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Terry Ryan: 2nd Offseason Priority Is The Bullpen

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#21 Nick Nelson

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 09:40 PM

If they truly are trying to compete next year, upgrading the bullpen is probably necessary.

Eh, I don't see it as a big priority. Perkins and Burton are a very good back-end combo, Duensing is one of the better lefty specialists in the league, and Fien made a believer out of me this year (not that I necessarily believe he'll repeat his performance, but he's solid). Swarzak is a fine long man. That leaves you with one or two spots. Burnett will probably fill one and I'm not necessarily a fan but there are a handful of other intriguing guys within the org who could step in. I'll be following Michael Tonkin with great interest next year.

I can certainly see the wisdom in bringing in a few extra relievers to solidify depth for that unit, but to view it as the biggest problem spot after the rotation? Yeah, that's pretty surprising.

#22 Physics Guy

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 10:42 PM

I have to think those comments do not bode well for Slama. I just don't get it. Did Slama piss off Gardy at Spring Training? Why is he not in the mix. Let the poor guy go if you are not going to give him a chance.

#23 kab21

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:49 PM

While I'm not sure if I agree that the bullpen is the 2nd priority I agree that it could be awful next season. Just one injury and things could fall apart. However I'm not sure if FA is where you fix bullpens. Of course Ryan didn't say FA so that's good but bullpens seem to more often be fixed by castoffs acquired in little trades, small FA pickups or converted starters that sucked.

#24 Shane Wahl

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 12:28 AM

Other than MI, what other contenders are there for second priority? Swarzak is a joke, Fien is not a guaranteed repeat, Robertson has some questions, and Burnett is never going to be so lucky again. Sounds like there are legitimate question marks there.

#25 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 05:55 AM


If they truly are trying to compete next year, upgrading the bullpen is probably necessary.

Eh, I don't see it as a big priority. Perkins and Burton are a very good back-end combo, Duensing is one of the better lefty specialists in the league, and Fien made a believer out of me this year (not that I necessarily believe he'll repeat his performance, but he's solid). Swarzak is a fine long man. That leaves you with one or two spots. Burnett will probably fill one and I'm not necessarily a fan but there are a handful of other intriguing guys within the org who could step in. I'll be following Michael Tonkin with great interest next year.

I can certainly see the wisdom in bringing in a few extra relievers to solidify depth for that unit, but to view it as the biggest problem spot after the rotation? Yeah, that's pretty surprising.


Agreed. If you have even a mediocre rotation, the bullpen isn't nearly as exposed. Those guys you listed are quality guys at the back of the pen. If your rotation isn't awful, you don't have to worry so much about the "soft underbelly" of the pen.

I'm not against shoring up the bullpen but I am surprised that it's the #2 concern. I'd think the middle infield wins that title easily.

#26 Ultima Ratio

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 09:41 PM

Must have an offseason trade in the works involving the departures of Perkins and Burton in order to get a solid starting pitcher. This trade would boost the bullpen to a #2 concern. Am I reading between the lines correctly, or reading the invisible-ink-annotated margins?
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#27 greengoblinrulz

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 09:51 PM

I can definately see the pen implode next year outside of Perkins.
Burton had his first solid year & history shows how up & down setup guys can be.
Fien came out of nowhere to have a solid half-season. Neither to me is a sure thing.
The sure thing to me is Duensing....only if he's used correctly & by knowing Gardy/Andy, that wont happen.
Gardy/Andy praise Burnett for his ERA while every other stat shows how mediocre he is & has been the 2 yrs previous.
Robertson's numbers weren't good but he did dominate lefties & there can be a place for someone like that.
Swarzak is a dime a dozen & will battle Deduno for the spot.
I cant say it enough, MN needs to find some strikeout pitchers for the pen...preferebly righties. I would love to check out JBroxton, JGrilli and ODotel (who will prob go to a contender). MN wil have to pay for these guys tho.

#28 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:28 PM

Agreed. If you have even a mediocre rotation, the bullpen isn't nearly as exposed. Those guys you listed are quality guys at the back of the pen. If your rotation isn't awful, you don't have to worry so much about the "soft underbelly" of the pen.

I'm not against shoring up the bullpen but I am surprised that it's the #2 concern. I'd think the middle infield wins that title easily.


How so? Wouldn't the better your rotation is, mean the more important the bullpen is? What's more important...holding onto a lead or tie, or coming into a game the starter has already lost? Nobody really cares all that much when Jeff Gray comes into a game the starter has already lost. If the Twins don't improve their starting pitching, then the bullpen isn't going to matter much. It'll lose games, but you can't finish lower than last.

In any case, no matter if your team is good or bad, or your starters are good or bad, your bullpen is going to be the deciding factor in a lot of games. Most major league baseball games end up close, it's the nature of the beast. Continually getting outpitched in the last 3 innings of a game matters too, just as does getting outpitched in the first 6.

You might argue that better starting pitching will throw more innings, and that's true, but the difference isn't as much as you'd think. Twins starters averaged 5.4 IP in 2012, worst in the AL. But the best only averaged 6.2, and half the teams were somewhere in the 5's, so most nights the Twins were asking their bullpen to get 1 or 2 more outs than their opponants. A good starting staff might eliminate those 1 or 2 outs, but every team in the league is asking their bullpen to pitch mulitiple innings almost evey night. You can't do that effectively with a 2 or 3 man bullpen.

I do agree that I don't know if the infield or the bullpen is a higher priority, but I'd argue both need to be addressed, although neither will likely matter much if they don't get better starting pitching.

#29 one_eyed_jack

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 10:36 PM

A bit surprising, but not totally shocking given the history. When the Twins were winning division titles in Ryan's first term, their bullpen was a huge strength. And in the era of pulling starters based on pitch counts, many games are won and lost on middle relief.

While I'd like to see the middle infield upgraded, the free agent market is pretty darn thin at those positions while there are some decent relievers available. So it would be easier to improve the bullpen without giving up anything of value.

Maybe Flormion and Dozier are the answer, I don't know. I hope so. It sure would be nice to see some continuity there. The Yankees have been able to start Jeter/Cano there in most games going back to the '05 season. How many combos have the Twins cycled through in that time?

#30 PseudoSABR

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:09 PM

Pitchers. Duh.

Chief is right, that the relievers in the past year (two years) haven't been battled tested. Throwing relievers out there in low pressure situations doesn't tell us much about their value as a reliever.

That said, we should be looking for Fiens and Burtons not Capps. There's nothing keeping the Twins from bringing in lots of minor league FA guys. Terry Ryan might be talking less in terms of dollars committed to the bullpen, so much as the time the Twins spend scouting/scouring the wire and free agency for arms. Each minor league signing is more than a whim, there's investment on the scouting/front office side. And frankly the gains made from mining the lower rungs FA are more likely to show up in the bullpen than anywhere else.

Put another way, the FO doesn't need to invest scouts/personnel into investigating whether Grieke or Marcum or Sanchez are good; those scouting/personnel assets are better used towards investigating players the team might have both questions and beliefs about/in.

#31 beckmt

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:37 PM

I do think that at this time the Twins have a 3 man bullpen to be counted on. Rest are spot pitchers after the game is lost, and many of the better outings from the pen where against the weaker hitting clubs. Most top of the line bullpens have pitchers with stuff, Twins do not, this needs to be addressed.

#32 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 06:49 AM

Agreed. If you have even a mediocre rotation, the bullpen isn't nearly as exposed. Those guys you listed are quality guys at the back of the pen. If your rotation isn't awful, you don't have to worry so much about the "soft underbelly" of the pen.

I'm not against shoring up the bullpen but I am surprised that it's the #2 concern. I'd think the middle infield wins that title easily.


How so? Wouldn't the better your rotation is, mean the more important the bullpen is? What's more important...holding onto a lead or tie, or coming into a game the starter has already lost? Nobody really cares all that much when Jeff Gray comes into a game the starter has already lost. If the Twins don't improve their starting pitching, then the bullpen isn't going to matter much. It'll lose games, but you can't finish lower than last.

In any case, no matter if your team is good or bad, or your starters are good or bad, your bullpen is going to be the deciding factor in a lot of games. Most major league baseball games end up close, it's the nature of the beast. Continually getting outpitched in the last 3 innings of a game matters too, just as does getting outpitched in the first 6.

You might argue that better starting pitching will throw more innings, and that's true, but the difference isn't as much as you'd think. Twins starters averaged 5.4 IP in 2012, worst in the AL. But the best only averaged 6.2, and half the teams were somewhere in the 5's, so most nights the Twins were asking their bullpen to get 1 or 2 more outs than their opponants. A good starting staff might eliminate those 1 or 2 outs, but every team in the league is asking their bullpen to pitch mulitiple innings almost evey night. You can't do that effectively with a 2 or 3 man bullpen.

I do agree that I don't know if the infield or the bullpen is a higher priority, but I'd argue both need to be addressed, although neither will likely matter much if they don't get better starting pitching.


The Twins have a decent pen already. Duensing, Burton, Duensing, and *maybe* Fien make up for a pretty solid 7-9 innings. Sure, the Twins could probably use another seventh inning guy but if you have four (maybe three) pitchers who can pitch, you're going to hold on to a lot of leads.

The main problem was the rotation. If you didn't have guys like Blackburn folding after four innings, followed by Deduno pitching five good innings, followed by De Vries throwing another 4.2 innings, your good relievers wouldn't be so taxed and we wouldn't be forced to watch Jeff Gray pitch the seventh or eighth inning over and over and over again. Sure, a half inning doesn't seem like much but over the course of a season, that's an extra 80 innings your bullpen has to throw and most of those innings aren't going to the Duensings, Burtons, and Perkins of the team. They're going to the scrubs, the replacement guys. And as we saw with many Deduno/Liriano starts, going five innings or less doesn't automatically mean the game is a blowout. Many of those games were close but Gardy had to come up with four innings from the pen. Not an easy task in a close game, doubly so if the opposing starter goes seven innings and you only have to face the best of their bullpen because of it.

Also, a better rotation means that Duensing actually get to pitch from the bullpen instead of being thrown into a starting role where he flounders. As I said, the Twins could use another guy in the pen but considering that their MI options are Escobar, Florimon, Carroll, and Dozier, I'm surprised that's not the #2 priority for the team. It seems to me that the most gains could be found by finding a shortstop or second baseman who isn't really bad at baseball.

#33 Riverbrian

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:28 AM

[quote name='Brock Beauchamp'][quote name='USAFChief'][quote name='Brock Beauchamp']Agreed. If you have even a mediocre rotation, the bullpen isn't nearly as exposed. Those guys you listed are quality guys at the back of the pen. If your rotation isn't awful, you don't have to worry so much about the "soft underbelly" of the pen.

I'm not against shoring up the bullpen but I am surprised that it's the #2 concern. I'd think the middle infield wins that title easily.[/QUOTE]

How so? Wouldn't the better your rotation is, mean the more important the bullpen is? What's more important...holding onto a lead or tie, or coming into a game the starter has already lost? Nobody really cares all that much when Jeff Gray comes into a game the starter has already lost. If the Twins don't improve their starting pitching, then the bullpen isn't going to matter much. It'll lose games, but you can't finish lower than last.

In any case, no matter if your team is good or bad, or your starters are good or bad, your bullpen is going to be the deciding factor in a lot of games. Most major league baseball games end up close, it's the nature of the beast. Continually getting outpitched in the last 3 innings of a game matters too, just as does getting outpitched in the first 6.

You might argue that better starting pitching will throw more innings, and that's true, but the difference isn't as much as you'd think. Twins starters averaged 5.4 IP in 2012, worst in the AL. But the best only averaged 6.2, and half the teams were somewhere in the 5's, so most nights the Twins were asking their bullpen to get 1 or 2 more outs than their opponants. A good starting staff might eliminate those 1 or 2 outs, but every team in the league is asking their bullpen to pitch mulitiple innings almost evey night. You can't do that effectively with a 2 or 3 man bullpen.

I do agree that I don't know if the infield or the bullpen is a higher priority, but I'd argue both need to be addressed, although neither will likely matter much if they don't get better starting pitching.[/QUOTE]

The Twins have a decent pen already. Duensing, Burton, Duensing, and *maybe* Fien make up for a pretty solid 7-9 innings. Sure, the Twins could probably use another seventh inning guy but if you have four (maybe three) pitchers who can pitch, you're going to hold on to a lot of leads.

The main problem was the rotation. If you didn't have guys like Blackburn folding after four innings, followed by Deduno pitching five good innings, followed by De Vries throwing another 4.2 innings, your good relievers wouldn't be so taxed and we wouldn't be forced to watch Jeff Gray pitch the seventh or eighth inning over and over and over again. Sure, a half inning doesn't seem like much but over the course of a season, that's an extra 80 innings your bullpen has to throw and most of those innings aren't going to the Duensings, Burtons, and Perkins of the team. They're going to the scrubs, the replacement guys. And as we saw with many Deduno/Liriano starts, going five innings or less doesn't automatically mean the game is a blowout. Many of those games were close but Gardy had to come up with four innings from the pen. Not an easy task in a close game, doubly so if the opposing starter goes seven innings and you only have to face the best of their bullpen because of it.

Also, a better rotation means that Duensing actually get to pitch from the bullpen instead of being thrown into a starting role where he flounders. As I said, the Twins could use another guy in the pen but considering that their MI options are Escobar, Florimon, Carroll, and Dozier, I'm surprised that's not the #2 priority for the team. It seems to me that the most gains could be found by finding a shortstop or second baseman who isn't really bad at baseball.[/QUOTE]

Brock I apologize for this but... Everything you typed here is just a bunch of words.

A good rotation needs a bullpen... A bad rotation needs a bullpen. Your post seems to be a little A + B = C.

Bullpen is fine therefore with better SP we don't need to improve the bullpen? Yeah... That's an easy concept to understand but terribly wrong.

Runs can be scored in any inning. A bullpen pitching with a lead will be a different kind of important as opposed to last years staff that had to log serious innings down on the scoreboard.

If the pitching isn't going to improve in 2013... I agree with you... Our bullpen is just fine. If the pitching improves and we have some leads to play with... You better keep an eye on who is available for bullpen help otherwise you risk giving up your gains.

Goblin is right... We could use some flamethrowers.

#34 J-Dog Dungan

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 08:50 AM

The real problem is is that the MI FA situation is the worst in a LOOOONNNG time. There are exactly 0 MI FA that anyone would want to give a major contract this offseason.

#35 kab21

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 09:04 AM

The real problem is is that the MI FA situation is the worst in a LOOOONNNG time. There are exactly 0 MI FA that anyone would want to give a major contract this offseason.


It's always terrible. The Twins aren't in a position to give a MI a big contract so imo this is actually a GOOD year for MI'ers in FA. Scutaro, Drew, and Keppinger are affordable and solid while Yunel Escobar is likely to be dumped by the Jays.

#36 Rick Niedermann

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 09:20 AM

Well if Terry Ryan is/was truly concerned upgrading the bullpen then why didn't he give Slama a chance in September? But I do like the idea if for no other reason then I do not trust Burnett, Robertson. I don't think Anthony Swarzak is very good either. But for some reason most bloggers think he is great. We certainly don't need to keep rotating washouts like Jeff Manship, Esmerling Vasquez, Luis Perdomo and Matt Maloneys of the world. I'd bring back Capps at a say 1.5 million before I wouldn't use a 40 man spot on another bunch of AAAA type pitchers.

Edited by Rick Niedermann, 26 October 2012 - 07:46 PM.


#37 kab21

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 09:36 AM

Regardless if the bullpen is a big concern or not you don't address it by spending a lot of money on it in FA. Bullpens get fixed by picking up failed starters or by dumb luck to be honest. Target more guys like Burton and Fien and you could pick up another cheap reliever that is far better than shelling out a 3/12 contract for a mediocre RP'er.

#38 sorney

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:30 AM

I thought the whole idea of drafting all those college power arms last year was that some of them would turn into relievers very quickly,while some would turn into starters. With the volatile nature of relievers, I'm not sure the #2 priority should be finding relievers. Relievers should just be a checkbox item that is done every offseason.

#39 Boom Boom

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:35 AM

I disagree with TR. My 2nd priority would be upgrading at shortstop.

#40 Linus

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Posted 26 October 2012 - 10:43 AM

I think what TR is really saying is that we have to dramatically increase the number of quality innings pitched regardless of whether or not it comes from the starters or the bullpen. He probably feels the task is so difficult that he is going to have make an all out effort to improve both starters and relievers significantly - and it still might not be enough.

As far as MI, my guess is that he feels that at least he has some young players to choose from that may get better and solve the problem acceptably. This logic holds some water when you consider the FA options are not great and you would have to overpay to get them (I would like Scutaro however). He knows he has no realistic bullpen options in the system, other than the ones that are already there.

So, I agree with the approach.