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Front Page: Starting Pitching Plan B: Snatching Lottery Tickets in Bulk


With all of the potential “impact” starters off the board with Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu now signed, Minnesota needs to get creative to fill the rotation. Trading for a starter is a definite possibility, but far from a certainty. Might the Twins be best served by snapping up a lottery ticket or three?While the crop of free-agent pitchers has been pretty well picked through, Minnesota might come closest to obtaining impact pitching by taking on a trifecta of often-injured but high-upside starters. Specifically, Taijuan Walker, Alex Wood, and Rich Hill.

 

This might sound a bit crazy, but hear me out. Yes, the Twins already have all but two of their 40-man spots filled in and they are likely to add a corner infielder as well. Yes, Walker, Wood, and Hill combined to pitch all of 95 1/3 innings in 2019. But solving the 40-man issue could be as easy as saying goodbye to Ryne Harper and Matt Wisler. And although there is high risk with the aforementioned trio, there is also plenty of upside.

 

Let’s start with Walker. He is a former top 100 prospect with the Seattle Mariners and was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks where he pitched very well in 2017 (157.1 IP, 3.49 ERA, 4.04 FIP). Unfortunately, he has pitched just 14 innings since then while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The good news is that he is just 27-years-old, has pretty good stuff and velocity, and it would be intriguing to see what he could become under Wes Johnson tutelage. He should come fairly cheap on a one or two-year deal.

 

Like Walker, Alex Wood has struggled with injuries, but is still fairly young (he will turn 29 in January) and has been good in the past. He’s had four seasons of over 150 IP with ERA’s of 2.78, 3.84, 2.72, and 3.69. After pitching well for the Dodgers in 2018, 2019 was an injury-filled affair the Cincinnati Reds (35 2/3 IP, 5.80 ERA). He’s not far removed from success and if healthy would be a solid addition to the rotation.

 

Unlike Walker and Wood, Rich Hill is not young. Like yours truly, he will turn 40 before the season starts. But when he’s been on the field, he’s thrown really well. In 2019 he pitched to a 2.45 ERA with just over 11 K/9 in just 58.2 innings. Prior to that, he threw for over 130 innings in both 2017 and 2018 with good numbers, but that would be a lot to expect at this point. However, he would make sense as an opener or in a role that wouldn’t require him to pitch deep into games. Plus, his curve ball is a thing of beauty.

 

The beauty of this plan is in the depth and flexibility it would bring to Minnesota’s rotation. Assuming all three make it through spring training in good health, the rotation would be filled until Michael Pineda’s return. If one or more of the trio is injured or ineffective before Pineda’s return, the Twins can turn to any of Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smetzler, or even Brusdar Graterol (who the Twins could piggy back with Hill to limit both pitcher’s innings). Of course, if all three all pitching well when Pineda returns, we can thank the heavens and potentially move Hill to the bullpen where he would seem a good fit.

 

Obviously, the odds of all three pitchers (or the rest of the rotation for that matter) making it through the whole season injury free are very low. But again, Minnesota has plenty of young pitchers who would slot in nicely, and would have the luxury of calling up the hot hand. In addition to last year’s rookies, prospects such as Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, or even Cole Sands could emerge later in the season.

 

The rotation would be pretty stuffed for 2020 but none of the three targeted pitchers would likely command more than a year or two at most, so any young arms that emerge would likely have a slot to land in in 2021 if not sooner.

 

Obviously, this isn’t the type of plan that Minnesota set out with, nor is it a plan that the fan base would be particularly thrilled with, but it might be crazy enough to work. While none of the three currently fit the “impact” mold, they at least have some potential to do so. And the Twins would still have the potential to land the coveted “impact pitcher” prior to the trade deadline.

 

What do you think? Is this plan too crazy to succeed? Would it be preferable to go the trade route or stick with the in-house options? Please leave your comments below.

 

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Hill is already injured from what I recall so he will not be ready to start the season. Only way I sign him is on a league minimum contract with appearance incentives. If that can't be done then I pass.

 

Walker and Wood I'm all for. Both have high upside and would give us some good potential depth along with Dobnak, etc. Maybe a similiar type of deal that Peraz got last winter would work on both Wood and Walker? Toussaint is also my other desired acquisition.

 

This is the plan I expect to be taken as I honestly don't think our FO has the moxie to pull off a major trade.

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Let's not forget that we were a 101 win team in 2019. If we were a team like the Royals or Tigers who are trying to rebuild after disastrous seasons in 2019, maybe. Is this really what we want? Our offseason may have gone AWFULLY in the first 80 days of the offseason, but there are still 56 days left. Maybe we can use this plan as a last resort, but most definitely not the first thing we do. Nice thinking though...

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I’d be all for Walker and Wood as a flier (no thanks on Hill), at this point. There is, literally, no other option at somehow acquiring decent pitching (yeah, offseason isn’t over....they’re talking on trades....D’ohk. I’ll take all bettors on that one).

 

Ideally, for a serious franchise, you’d attempt something like that as a handcuff to a bigger acquisition. Real rotation depth/insurance for an injury, etc.

 

You’re just a silly clown pretender if you sign one of these guys as one of your primary rotation pieces and say you’re trying to win a championship.

 

And, no, the rotation would not be “stuffed” for 2020. We’d be left with 3 competent known commodities, at best (one injury/regression from Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda from a total disaster), a bunch of AAAA guys that are due to get shelled (Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe), a stalled out prospect with no history of carrying a starters workload (Graterol), a guy with potential that’s never been realized (Walker), and a guy who used to be OK years ago in the national league (Wood). That is about as un-stuffed as a rotation gets in the major leagues these days, especially for “contenders.”

 

What a joke that we’re left sitting here with these options. Total and unadulterated failure worthy of ridicule, boos, and rotten vegetables from fans. Any attempt to say otherwise is propaganda or delusion.

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Been banging the drum on Walker and Wood for some time now. Never thought about both of them as I still see a trade taking place. But honestly, why not both? What's the worst that could happen? Both turn out and you have surplus depth and value? Or one turns out and you look like geniuses?

 

No on Hill as he's hurt and his recent public embarrassment is something I want no part of. If you want a 3rd option, think about Nelson.

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Moderator warning: if you don’t want to address and talk about the subject presented, then don’t. If all you want to do is name call and generally grouse about what wasn’t done, start your own thread or, better yet, write your own blog. You can disagree with the writer, but present your own thoughts beyond penny pinching comments.

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They won't pay the rate for proven talent and they don't seem comfortable trading prospects. As a plan C this doesn't look bad. Sign all the damaged goods and hope that 1 or 2 pan out. We may still have a shot at contending for the central division title. This plan also maintains the organization's premier goal, "financial flexibility". 

 

We've learned this vaunted flexibility is far more likely to be diverted to the owner's bank accounts than used to add talent and wins, but that's the way ownership rolls. I expect they're still trying to recoup the small portion of the stadium that wasn't bankrolled by the taxpayers. 

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They won't pay the rate for proven talent and they don't seem comfortable trading prospects. As a plan C this doesn't look bad. Sign all the damaged goods and hope that 1 or 2 pan out. We may still have a shot at contending for the central division title. This plan also maintains the organization's premier goal, "financial flexibility". 

 

We've learned this vaunted flexibility is far more likely to be diverted to the owner's bank accounts than used to add talent and wins, but that's the way ownership rolls. I expect they're still trying to recoup the small portion of the stadium that wasn't bankrolled by the taxpayers.

 

Sorry, and with due respect for your opinion, I just can't agree here.

 

Thus FO has eaten payroll at times over the last couple of years to make trades, something never done before to my recollection.

 

While they have yet to trade top prospects, they have traded some prospects recently. Polacios (did I remember that right?) Was still a "decent" and young prospect traded for Odorizzi. How did that turn out? They traded a couple of decent prospects, though not top granted, to acquire Dyson and Romo last year. Turned out to be half right. Just because they haven't as of yet traded some of their top 10-20 prospects doesn't mean they won't. I mean, 3 years in, but going back to mid season last year, when has there really been a time that was right to do so? And even last year, they were in on Stroman before he went to the Mets and it was widely published they were rather P.O. because they felt they were in and would have offered a counter but weren't allowed to.

 

Now, if they rest on laurels and do nothing but plan B or C, then they bad better be as smart as we all hope they are or some torches and pitchforks may come out.

 

Signing someone like Wood or Walker is exactly what they SHOULD do, regardless! These are guys who have live arms, healthy, and have even shown what they can do when healthy. Remember when Pineda was signed for $2M to rehab and had a 2nd year? How did that turn out? Even with some young arms on hand, these kinds of fliers on 27-28yo arms should be a must for anyone, especially a mid-market team.

 

And unless there is something financially going on I am not privy to, I don't see how the Twins spending $M's of dollars every year to update Target Field is in some way recouping any sort of debt.

 

I don't mean to sound argumentative or mean, we just don't agree here.

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I definitely don’t see them signing three SPs. I am skeptical that they would even sign two of these guys. However, it seems quite reasonable to expect them to sign one of them, likely either Walker or Wood (my preference, as stated on the Taijuan Walker thread, is Walker).

 

I also think that signing would go nicely with either a Donaldson signing or a trade for David Price.

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I don't see them doing this but who knows.  I still think they trade for a starter and I am starting to believe they believe they have the other starters they need in the system already.  Why not use Thorpe and Smeltzer as they are likely as good as most other number 5 starters out there.  Not sure if they want to depend on Graterol or not but if he comes in looking good this spring he looks like a decent option for a spot.  You still have Poppen and Duran that should be able to fill in as well.  They must believe those guys provide enough depth or they would have been more desperate to add Ryu than they were.  

 

 I really think for good or ill they want to use the farm to supplement what they have rather than risk future payroll flexibility.  I am sure they would also like to see if they can get a few more extensions done as well.

 

They were right last year when all of us were worried about the pen.  They believed in the guys they had and it worked out.  Maybe that is the same plan they have for the starters this year?

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All 3 could work depending on the price, and whether the initial contract takes up a roster spot. All could be great. All could stink. It is not what I asked for for Christmas, but am used to not getting what I want and moving on. I like both Walker and Wood. I think things could pretty much be flushed out in Spring Training. I don't, however, think they will sign a minor league contract with all the excalation clauses.

 

Excuses are made and forgiveness is found for Pineda, so I don't know why a man defending his wife from overzealous security, all over a fanny pack, is an embarrasment. There is a reason all charges were reduced by the people who counted, and clarity was restored, with a grand dropped to save face for the "security".  

 

"The charges were ultimately reduced to civil, non-criminal infractions, and the couple was fined a total of $1,000 during an appearance Monday in Wrentham District Court, according to Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey’s office." ...... "The couple’s lawyer, Francis O’Brien Jr., said the matter was “appropriately resolved” by prosecutors. “This was a terribly unfortunate event that should never have escalated beyond a routine encounter with stadium security,” he said in an emailed statement. “Commendably, the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office recognized this.”

 

https://www.boston.com/sports/mlb/2019/12/24/rich-hill-wife-arrested

 

Dave Hill is a great guy, beloved by his Dodger teammates, and a veteran leader with a competitive drive that would fit in great if he could only stay on the field, which is the only question about him that draws concern from me.

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Yes please to taijuan Walker.  Hill and Wood I don’t see the upside.  

Before the off season started the front office talked about targeting and bringing in “impact arms” Walker and in my opinion Aaron Sanchez are both potential impact arms.  They appear to have good to potential great stuff, with tweeks to delivery or pitch selection/sequence or mechanics to get more consistency. That’s coaching and scouting.  
 

I know we swung and missed on the high end tier 2 starters but I’m not sure that the best of that group isn’t still out there with the right situation and health concerns behind them.  
 

maybe I’m drinking to much Koolaid but if the Twins want impact starters coaching and identifying those who have it but have harnessed it maybe the best and only way we find it.  

 

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The problem with a bunch of lottery tickets is that the pitcher who makes the best impression in March probably isn't the best pitcher in July.

 

Isn't that how the Twins let Anibal Sanchez get away?

 

I don't exactly regret that move, as it seemed like the right thing at the time. But ST is difficult to assess a project/comeback-type player and you can only dedicate so many roster spots to that type of thing (as a contender).

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I propose plan Z: the Twins physically send an intern to the closest Powerball retailer and buy 30 million actual lottery tickets. The cash out for Saturday's drawing is $134.3 MM, providing our Twins with the needed financial flexibility to trade for an impact starter.

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I may be in panic mode, but dang, I am looking at the TV and my phone constantly to see who the Twins are going to get, only to see others getting people. So I am getting a tad bit impatient. However, I know everyone wants the Twins to trade for an elite starting pitcher, but when your team seems to be a non free agent destination, or a lower tear destination, you know, not the first choice then realistically you need to hold on to your athletes that you are producing. It's the only way to win, for the Twins. So I really don't see any big trades happening this winter. I could see a big trade in July, if the Twins are in 1st place etc... Just because at that time the end is close and if we are in the driver's seat then I could see the Twins risking their future at that time, but not right now. So yes I think Walker, Wood, Hill, and a few other guys out there could solidify the rotation enough to get them to July. I just want them to get some **** done soon, so they are ready to go into spring training and ready to attempt to come back and produce. I am getting impatient, I'd like to see something get done soon.

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If the Twins did sign two of these guys, my guess is the third would balk at choosing to sign with a team that appeared to have a full rotation. Signing two of them definitely sounds interesting, though.

Agreed.

 

Although pitchers in this class may not prioritize signing with a contender either -- they might actually want the longer leash afforded by a less competitive team. So even two at the level of Walker and Wood might be hard to get, if they are truly in demand.

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They need to move on Walker as priority #1 in this scenario ASAP. He would be my #4 to start the season and fill Pineda’s initial missed starts and then see what you have. I would give him 2years at $12-$15 (but $15 only if tied to team option for third year at $7.5MM). I would also sign Wood if we cannot trade for a pitcher that is really a fit and at reasonable prospect cost (no top two player or top two pitchers, unless exceptional return: load up a lot of 5-20, as we will need to begin to clean up our 40 man for future years soon) and see what we have with these two running 3 and 4 to start the year, and possibly move the underperformer at trade deadline (adding our prospects in a separate trade for a better pitcher, or a call-up of an overperforming youngster who isn’t already in our #5spot or in relief). I would likely look to give Wood a similar deal (maybe $1-2MM lighter, as he is from NL, and lacks the same stuff as Walker). That way, you fill a void of Pineda and non or failed trade, and are able to make room for a youngster that is on the climb with pretty cheap and controllable deals for Walker and Wood (who are still young) if they have something left to offer us in 2020 and beyond or not.

 

I, too, believe a better trade prospect will be available at trade deadline when teams cut bait on season and rebuild. Now is not really the best time to leverage a trade when most are optimistic about new season and an overpay is necessary. You will also have a better idea as to Balazovic, Duran, and Sands progress by that point - which may change your view on the need to trade for a long-term answer at SP (I am going to assume Graterol is the #5 or #6 on Twins, as he has little to gain by dominating AAA, and I am not of the belief that Smeltzer, Dobnak, or Thorpe beats him out). it may also change the age SP you are looking for based upon team record and young pitcher progress (or lack of progress).

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I propose plan Z: the Twins physically send an intern to the closest Powerball retailer and buy 30 million actual lottery tickets. The cash out for Saturday's drawing is $134.3 MM, providing our Twins with the needed financial flexibility to trade for an impact starter.

 

Just to clarify, that number is before federal and state taxes. The actual "cash" is closer to $80 million.

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Hill is already injured from what I recall so he will not be ready to start the season. Only way I sign him is on a league minimum contract with appearance incentives. If that can't be done then I pass.

 

Walker and Wood I'm all for. Both have high upside and would give us some good potential depth along with Dobnak, etc. Maybe a similiar type of deal that Peraz got last winter would work on both Wood and Walker? Toussaint is also my other desired acquisition.

 

This is the plan I expect to be taken as I honestly don't think our FO has the moxie to pull off a major trade.

...or the desire to part with prospects

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I'm all for any of these bounce back options.  Walker, Wood, Sanchez and Nelson all fit the bill.  I'd prefer deals with options.  Rich Hill is fine too, as long as he isn't the only one.  Stash him on the IL. Let him mend.  Again, I would want a 2021 option. 

 

I do agree with spycake though.  I don't think you will get more than Hill and one other of these guys to sign.  You may not get the options either.  These guys will want to get a lot of opportunity to showcase that they are back and effective.  In return, they will probably be willing to take a couple games on the chin with a team like Florida or Detroit.

 

I don't care about the Hill incident.  He was just standing up for his wife and has already acknowledged that he was out of line and had an emotional reaction. It would be pretty hard for me to pass judgement on him due to that incident alone. I know I've behaved worse in my lifetime.

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I am fine with Walker or Wood. Either can be used for bottom of the rotation spots. I think it is almost imperative we sign at least one FA in that range(4-5 starter types) and trade for another. 

 

After that, I think you try your best to get someone that profiles as a #1-2-ish starter. Be prepared to give up highly rated prospects. 

 

What I don't want them to do is to get suckered into giving up any of our top 4-5 prospects for someone that isn't really top end. We don't need Robbie Ray or someone of that ilk if it takes those types of players.

 

If we are going to use these types of players in trades, they need to be used for real top end starters. Even if it takes packaging a couple up, I think it's worth it, rather than dumping one of them for a guy that is on about the same level as Odorizi.  Example - I'd rather give up Lewis and Graterol for Syndergaard, than I would give up just Kiriloff for Robbie Ray. 

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Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, and Devin Smetzler are just placeholders waiting for Graterol, Jhoan Duran, and Jordan Balazovic to arrive. Then we should use Dobnak, Thorpe and Smelzler as trade bait once they have another year of seasoning in the majors. In fact, I would trade all three right now to Arizona for Ray if they would take the deal and then sign Walker and Wood. 

 

Berios, Odorizzi, Ray, Walker and Wood would be a pretty powerful starting group  with Penida coming back and replacing Walker or Wood. Penida would also be insurance against either Walker or Wood getting injured or not returning to form. 

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Sorry, and with due respect for your opinion, I just can't agree here. Thus FO has eaten payroll at times over the last couple of years to make trades, something never done before to my recollection. While they have yet to trade top prospects, they have traded some prospects recently. Polacios (did I remember that right?) Was still a "decent" and young prospect traded for Odorizzi. How did that turn out? They traded a couple of decent prospects, though not top granted, to acquire Dyson and Romo last year. Turned out to be half right. Just because they haven't as of yet traded some of their top 10-20 prospects doesn't mean they won't. I mean, 3 years in, but going back to mid season last year, when has there really been a time that was right to do so? And even last year, they were in on Stroman before he went to the Mets and it was widely published they were rather P.O. because they felt they were in and would have offered a counter but weren't allowed to. Now, if they rest on laurels and do nothing but plan B or C, then they bad better be as smart as we all hope they are or some torches and pitchforks may come out. Signing someone like Wood or Walker is exactly what they SHOULD do, regardless! These are guys who have live arms, healthy, and have even shown what they can do when healthy. Remember when Pineda was signed for $2M to rehab and had a 2nd year? How did that turn out? Even with some young arms on hand, these kinds of fliers on 27-28yo arms should be a must for anyone, especially a mid-market team. And unless there is something financially going on I am not privy to, I don't see how the Twins spending $M's of dollars every year to update Target Field is in some way recouping any sort of debt. I don't mean to sound argumentative or mean, we just don't agree here.

They also sold a 2nd round pick rather than pay dead money to Phil Hughes. Payroll was lower last season than it was in 18', and likely would've been closer to 100M had Sano not been injured to start the year. The FO has been willing to take on small amounts of $$ and dabble in smaller trades. I don't see anything in either their spending or trade history to suggest there's a strong willingness to pull the trigger on the type of deal that'd be required to bring in a front line starter. They've played it safe, and it has improved the team in the margins, but they need to do better than that. The clock to acquire better starting pitching didn't start at the deadline last year. They've had three years to make moves in that regard, and they've been content to pad the middle/back end of the rotation and sign guys to short term deals. I don't have any sympathy for a FO that put themselves in this position. There isn't a magical "right time," to sign an impact player.  

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