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Article: Twins Preparing To Make Their Pitch


Nick Nelson
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The annual MLB Winter Meetings kick off in San Diego on Monday, launching what should be a very active week for signings and trades around the league.

 

By all accounts, Terry Ryan has one clear focus heading into this important offseason stretch: pitching.As discussed on Friday, the Twins have no fewer than seven starters in the mix who arguably deserve a shot, creating an interesting dynamic as they seek to address the club's most problematic unit.

 

La Velle E. Neal III reports that the team has interest in bringing back Francisco Liriano, who is returning to free agency after an excellent two-year run in Pittsburgh.

 

That's a reunion I could get behind, in principle. He's a strikeout machine, something that this absurdly contact-heavy rotation could sorely use. He's always got that front-end potential and has displayed it frequently over these last couple of seasons.

 

But even as a huge Liriano backer, I'd be a little squeamish about giving up a second-round draft pick in addition to guaranteeing him big money on a multi-year deal. The Twins are as familiar as anyone with the lefty's talent, but they're also all too familiar with what happens when he goes off the rails.

 

Are they really willing to take that plunge one year after getting burned on the Ricky Nolasco signing? I just can't see it. But I'm a lot more intrigued by another pitcher who is represented by the same agency.

 

According to Neal, the Twins are meeting with Brett Anderson's agent on Monday. To me, he's the most perfect fit on the market. He won't require a long commitment, and he's got huge ability. Plus, he's only 26, so if he can turn a corner with his health, maybe they can find a way to work him into the long-term plans.

 

Meanwhile, Charley Walters wrote in the Pioneer Press that the Twins are interested in Justin Masterson, and that they'll make their push for him this week. Walters suggests that the team sees Masterson -- who's coming off a rough season -- in the same light they did Phil Hughes a year ago. That's a parallel that's been drawn here before, as well.

 

Masterson makes a lot of sense as a target. He'll probably only require a one-year deal, and he's more reliable to deliver innings than someone like Anderson. His peripherals hint that fast improvement is in store after an ugly 2014 campaign.

 

But on that note, it's a little hard to sell a guy who posted a 5.88 ERA last year as a shiny rotation upgrade, and signing Masterson would likely push the Twins' payroll close to $100 million.

 

For what it's worth, Darren Wolfson tweeted this weekend that "every sign has Masterson landing elsewhere," adding that the Twins have no meetings set up with him at the Winter Meetings.

 

Stay tuned this week and we'll keep you apprised on any developments relating to these story lines, as well as any others that emerge.

 

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Whoever signs Liriano will spend the year saying wow, if he hadn't gotten hurt he would have had a great season.

 

Career high in innings was 191, back in 2010.  Next highest was 162.  Tantalizing but unreliable.

 

I say spend big or stay home.  We have enough 3/4/5s to sort through.

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There is still one thing, or should I say one answer missing in this off season puzzle. Is our vaunted minor league system not really that vaunted? Are the Twins as an orginasation philosophically opposed to taking an "unforced" chance on young talent? Or is TR completely misconstructing the roster? Every move made is of the bland vannilla variety!

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None of these guys are a lock to put up better numbers than May or Meyer.  And they are not consistent and/or healthy to hand a long term contract if they have a good year.

 

I see a lose-lose.  Get a clear upgrade or let the young kids play.

 

Sure, it is possible that we could get a good outcome.  The guys pitch well and are flipped, or we get a pick when they leave.  But that potential outcome is not worth seeing May or Meyer in AAA.  They are 25 now.

Edited by tobi0040
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Of the FA pitchers, I'd be ok with Masterson.  I'd rather go with May, Meyer, Milone than the others.  No way should Liriano come back.  He's the crazy ex-girlfriend.  You broke up for a reason, don't forget that. 

 

Ryan could also make a trade or two to add to the pitching depth (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the Twins added Cody Martin in the rule v draft and gave him every opportunity to win the 5th spot).  

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Love to have Liriano back. Love to see him healthy, grown up, head on straight, throwing strikes, getting SO's, winning games and living up to at least some of the vast potential he has owned and flashed.

 

But he is not only the ex-girlfriend, he's the bi-polar ex-girlfriend who quit taking her meds because she felt better.

 

Liriano washed out in Chicago in one season, so it wasn't just the Twins. For whatever reason, the NL, right place at right time, the one pitching coach in all the world he'd listen to or that "got him", he's found some success. I have serious doubts his recent success would follow him back to Minnesota.

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Whoever signs Liriano will spend the year saying wow, if he hadn't gotten hurt he would have had a great season.

 

Career high in innings was 191, back in 2010.  Next highest was 162.  Tantalizing but unreliable.

 

I say spend big or stay home.  We have enough 3/4/5s to sort through.

 

While you never want your pitchers to get hurt, the Twins are in a position where they need quality innings, not a quantity of innings.  After all, if Liriano or Anderson can only get you 150 innings, doesn't that at least mean there are 50 extra innings available for Meyer? 

 

I'd much rather see 200 IP between Anderson and Meyer than 200 IP for Ryan Vogelsong or whoever is this year's version of Kevin Correia.

 

I like the idea of Liriano, but not the years.  I want one year deals, maybe with an option.

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". He's a strikeout machine, something that this absurdly contact-heavy rotation could sorely use."   Kind of depends doesn't it?    Nolasco, Hughes, Gibson, May and Meyer would probably average near 8 SO/9 which is better than the top 6 from Detroit.    Also consider that KC and San Fran both were in the lower third for strikeouts.   Again, contact heavy not always such a bad thing depending on how well you do it but also replacing Correia with Meyer and Pino with May immediately puts us at least average in strikeouts.

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[quote name="big dog" timestamp="1418043562"

 

I say spend big or stay home.  We have enough 3/4/5s to sort through.

 

Could Ryan make a big trade move for a top of the rotation SP under 30 with team or contract control for several years, yes. Do I think he will, no.

 

I believe Ryan, and I agree with this strategy, wants to hold on to all of his prospect cards for another year. It gives him a bigger deck to shuffle and deal from a year from now when so many of the youngsters will be up, or getting really close in some cases. It fills the roster better, and offers even greater trade value.

 

Masterson...maybe Santana...THATS IT in my book....or move on to a flyer on Anderson, Billingsley, or another of several quality arms coming off injury that offer high reward and little risk. NO 4th or 5th starters floundering around in place of prospects.

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Unless the Twins and Lirano are confident that he is going to do well I don't see Minnesota as a good spot for him.  There is already a history of disappointment and if he struggles his past will haunt him quickly in Minnesota not so if he goes elsewhere.

 

I too am not a fan of giving a high 2nd round pick even though it has been pointed out that several of those have not amounted to much.  At least not for the gamble that is Liriano.  

 

In this case I think it is better for both parties to look elsewhere.

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No thanks on Liriano - even with some good stretches the last two years he still had stretches where he was not good.

 

I was of the go big or go home camp but am now changing my mind.  I like going after Brett Anderson and only him, here's why: the question isn't quality.  If he is healthy (I know a huge if) he becomes possibly our best pitcher.

 

If he is not healthy, Meyer / May get more of an opportunity.

 

The next big pitching contract I would like to see is an extension for Hughes, provided he pitches well next year.

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I'd much rather see 200 IP between Anderson and Meyer than 200 IP for Ryan Vogelsong or whoever is this year's version of Kevin Correia.

 

At the tender age of 36, Ryan Vogelsong has yet to be sent to the mound to start an inning 200 times in a season. But maybe age 37 will be the year.

 

Note: could make the same observation about 30-year-old Francisco Liriano and his age-31 year.

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"Maybe he can pitch more innings if he doesn't have to wear himself out hitting so much," said no AL executive, ever.

 

The thing is that Vogelsong is not a bad pitcher. There are certainly teams that could upgrade the back of their rotation by adding him to mix. I just don't see how he helps the Twins in the short term or the long term. 

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Guess I'm the contrarian in the group on this.

 

Liriano is the one guy among those listed that I could reasonably see being a top of the rotation SP. Any concerns over alleged misuse or poor coaching are no longer relevant, given the manager/pitching coach changes.

 

I also don't like to give up a 2nd round pick for a FA signing, but even someone like me who loves minor leaguers has to admit that the odds of Liriano becoming a strong contributor to the Twins are better than pretty much anyone the Twins would draft in the 2nd round.

 

People act like getting "only" 150-170 innings from a guy with Liriano's talent wouldn't be worth it, but that's 150-170 more innings of high production than you're likely to get from anyone else on the current staff not named Hughes.

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Guess I'm the contrarian in the group on this.

 

Liriano is the one guy among those listed that I could reasonably see being a top of the rotation SP. Any concerns over alleged misuse or poor coaching are no longer relevant, given the manager/pitching coach changes.

 

I also don't like to give up a 2nd round pick for a FA signing, but even someone like me who loves minor leaguers has to admit that the odds of Liriano becoming a strong contributor to the Twins are better than pretty much anyone the Twins would draft in the 2nd round.

 

People act like getting "only" 150-170 innings from a guy with Liriano's talent wouldn't be worth it, but that's 150-170 more innings of high production than you're likely to get from anyone else on the current staff not named Hughes.

 

I don't really want Liriano back.  But could you imagine these boards if he came back here and stunk again? 

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The next big pitching contract I would like to see is an extension for Hughes, provided he pitches well next year.

 

If he pitches well next year, would he sign one?

 

Look for extension talks with Hughes leading up to the trading deadline. If it appears that he's chasing the big $$$ I wouldn't be surprised if he's dealt before August (assuming the Twins are out of the race).  There are advantages to dealing Hughes this year as opposed to waiting till 2016. Think Samardzija & D Price.

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If he pitches well next year, would he sign one?

Good question - one that we will (hopefully) have to ask!  He obviously thrived last year in his new environment so I am guessing that would mean something.  And, since he signed here once, I am assuming he would sign again given a fair contract.

 

Regarding Liriano, I just don't get all the love.  We couldn't get him out of town fast enough the last time he was here.

Edited by Linus
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Regarding Liriano, I just don't get all the love.  We couldn't get him out of town fast enough the last time he was here.

First, I think you have to acknowledge that he's had considerable success since leaving the Twins. In addition, one of the reasons some (including me) were ready to see him go is that he didn't seem to be getting any better and was about to start getting more expensive. The Twins were going to have to commit to him for more money and more years and, based on the performance levels at the time, it made more sense to get something for him. It appeared that, regardless of who's fault it was, the Twins' coaches and Liriano were not likely to find any kind of magic together that would allow him to live up to his potential.

 

I don't know if it's true the Pirates coaches "fixed" something with Liriano or not, but I think you have to allow that it's a distinct possibility.

 

I wouldn't suggest bringing him back if it would be a reuniting with Rick Anderson and Ron Gardenhire, but that is not the case.

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First, I think you have to acknowledge that he's had considerable success since leaving the Twins. In addition, one of the reasons some (including me) were ready to see him go is that he didn't seem to be getting any better and was about to start getting more expensive. The Twins were going to have to commit to him for more money and more years and, based on the performance levels at the time, it made more sense to get something for him. It appeared that, regardless of who's fault it was, the Twins' coaches and Liriano were not likely to find any kind of magic together that would allow him to live up to his potential.

 

I don't know if it's true the Pirates coaches "fixed" something with Liriano or not, but I think you have to allow that it's a distinct possibility.

 

I wouldn't suggest bringing him back if it would be a reuniting with Rick Anderson and Ron Gardenhire, but that is not the case.

 

I will first say that the predictions are often wrong.  Think Stephen Drew, Ervin Santana a few years in a row now.  But I heard a price tag of 3 and $40M for Liriano somewhere.  With the Pirates balking at a 4th year.   No reason to give Liriano anything like that.

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Could the Twins swap Nolasco for CJ Wilson straight up. Both players are coming off sub-par years and Wilson only has two years left on his deal while Wilson has three. Wilson is older and has more tread on his arm than Nolasco but they throw about the same level fastball. Would both be rejuvinated by a change of scenery? Wilson would mean Twin are taking on some more salary but he is left handed? If none of the free agent guys happen is this a last gasp effort to add by subtraction and add a starter?

 

You would wonder why they would do that.  CJ Wilson has way more upside.  Career ERA + of 112 versus 91.

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". He's a strikeout machine, something that this absurdly contact-heavy rotation could sorely use."   Kind of depends doesn't it?    Nolasco, Hughes, Gibson, May and Meyer would probably average near 8 SO/9 which is better than the top 6 from Detroit.    Also consider that KC and San Fran both were in the lower third for strikeouts.   Again, contact heavy not always such a bad thing depending on how well you do it but also replacing Correia with Meyer and Pino with May immediately puts us at least average in strikeouts.

 

Contact brings the element of chance into play every time.  Strikeouts prevent sac flies, moving runners over, errors, seeing-eye-singles, Texas Leaguers, hit-and-runs and your all too common brain farts that are a favorite of Twins outfielders.

 

Hopefully May and Meyer will miss a bunch of bats, but Gibson doesn't look like he will.  His sinker looks like it's made to induce a lot of contact.  Hopefully Hughes stays a strong strikeout option, but it was a career year for him in that department (and basically every department) so we'll have to see how that plays out. Nolasco was 8.0 K/9 or better twice, in his mid 20's in the NL.  He's not a strikeout pitcher any more. 

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 Wilson is older and has more tread on his arm than Nolasco but they throw about the same level fastball. Would both be rejuvinated by a change of scenery?

 

Wilson is older, but he actually has less tread on his arm as he spent his first 5 years in the bullpen.

 

I'd guess the Angels would have no interest in taking on the longer contract, especially since Wilson was far less of a disaster last year.

 

Also, while a change of scenery may do both good, both are California boys and playing in Minnesota would probably at best have a neutral effect on their mental states.

 

Fun side note though; when Joe Nathan went down with TJ surgery in the spring of 2010, the rumor was that the Twins and Rangers had at least some casual discussion of a getting Wilson to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Slowey.  I believe it was the Twins who balked as a promising young arm like Slowey was more valuable than a 29-year-old set up man.  Of course had the Twins gotten Wilson, they likely wouldn't have had the foresight or need to convert him to a starter. 

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