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Finding an Ace


mk
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2 minutes ago, Richie the Rally Goat said:

Fair enough, he’s an ace

if the Twins were to sign him, would they get more (upside) from him than what we’ve seen? The same? Less (downside)?

My assumption is the same at best (still an ace) or injured. Injury is likely which is why he’s affordable for the Twins.

I'd guess they get the same out of him the the next 2-3 years, and a slow-ish decline after that. The years are far more of a concern to me than AAV. Can they get him for 4 or 5 years? I'd do that in a heartbeat to give the team a shot at a real ace while the majority of the team is on very cheap deals. If it takes 6 I'd be far more hesitant (and I think the Twins would refuse to go 6). If it's 7 years I'm flat out not signing him. But 4 or 5 years to me is an acceptable risk. Even if they lose a season to injury somewhere in there.

To me every starting pitcher is a huge injury risk so I'm never willing to go more than 4 or 5 years on them. But the Twins find themselves in what I feel is a perfect storm for taking a chance on an Ace right now. Prospects coming to cover for injuries, and a ton of payroll space. If they're not going to do it now they'll never do it. They've set themselves up to be able to make a splash. Now's the time to do it, in my opinion.

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5 hours ago, DJL44 said:

If Berrios didn't qualify as an ace then Rodon doesn't either. You're basically looking for a Hall of Fame level pitcher and the Twins have produced 3 of them in 100 years - Walter Johnson, Bert Blyleven and Johan Santana.

Jim Kaat is offended, but yes to your overall point. ?

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11 hours ago, Trov said:

Sometimes it is just the right fit for the right team too.  I mean look at Lance Lynn, he was terrible for us, most likely he was out of shape due to late signing, but it was the worst of his career between us and the Yankees in 2018.  Then he follows that up with 3 of his best years of his career, or at least back to his expected level.  This year not nearly as good.  Other guys have outlying years over time as well.

The issue is, pitching is super hard to predict long term future.  Injuries derail many careers, or guys fall off the cliff very quickly, after many years of success.   Only HOF level pitchers tend to be Ace level into their 30's, and they are very few and far between.  

I have said for years FA is the hardest way to get an Ace, at least for long term because normally they regress a ton into their 30's.  Sure you can point to Verlander, Scherzer and a few others, but for every one of them you can see several that failed in their 30's, at least compared to what they did pre free agency. 

I am not saying do not try to get one, but they are hard to project in draft.  I mean you mention Greene as a possible ace, which he has the overall stuff to develop into that, but his first year is not ace level outputs.  Gore did even worse.  Wright, now in 5th year pitching in majors had a 21 win season, but his numbers outside of that are fringe ace like.  

Overall my point is finding an reliable ace is very hard to do, and I cannot think of a single team that can always seem to find one. 

Agreed, maybe Dodgers have the midas touch of late, but thats a quibble. Elite guys are hard to find, harder still to sustain elite results over several seasons and by then they are outrageously expensive. All that said, Twins history says they have been poor at finding guys who can lead a staff ..the stopper you trust with the most critical games and moments. Morris '91, vintage Santana, Sweet Music at his prime....seems to be a combo of skill evaluating and developing, timing with trades or FA's, appetite for risk, and dumb luck.

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I'm one of those who has a narrow definition of 'ace.' I don't subscribe to the 'Well, he's the team's ace' as some did with Berríos. He always was a good #2, but I never classified him as an ace or even a #1 pitcher, even though he was the best we had and loved having him on the team. We just needed another of that calibre and a couple of other better options behind him. And, after having said that, I think aces are rare, not easy to come by and expensive, something this team will never sign because of the cost. And who knows if we will ever develop that, as I think it's a crapshoot. Santana was an ace. I'm not even sure I'd classify Morris or Viola as that, but they certainly provided the feel of that in 91 and 87/88 respectively. It's so difficult to have these discussions when there is no definitive definition. But, and again, that all said, if we had a staff of #2's and 3's and a shut down BP, I think that could work and it's what I've been ascribing to for this team for a bit now. Would it 'win the WS' work? Hard to say ... depends on who gets hot, when and if one of our pitchers is having an 'ace-like' season. I think that's our best hope.

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23 hours ago, DJL44 said:

If Berrios didn't qualify as an ace then Rodon doesn't either. You're basically looking for a Hall of Fame level pitcher and the Twins have produced 3 of them in 100 years - Walter Johnson, Bert Blyleven and Johan Santana.

Yep. And to be accurate the Twins didn't produce Santana as he was acquired from another team.

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Thoughts:

First, everything comes down to scouting. Whether it's the draft, a trade, or free agency, acquiring good players is dependent on accurate evaluation.

Second, this discussion is inextricably tied to the philosophy behind in-game management of pitchers. I understand the thinking that a fresh bullpen pitcher is more likely to get outs than a starter going through the opposing lineup for the third time. As Original_JB said, if that's how the staff will be managed then having an "ace" is not as important. Getting serviceable starters who can reliably get through the fifth inning is satisfactory. Of course, this makes the bullpen highly important, which in turn makes this discussion inextricably tied to the acquisition of top-notch relievers.

Third, everything comes down to scouting. Have I heard that before somewhere?

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18 hours ago, Richie the Rally Goat said:

Fair enough, he’s an ace

if the Twins were to sign him, would they get more (upside) from him than what we’ve seen? The same? Less (downside)?

My assumption is the same at best (still an ace) or injured. Injury is likely which is why he’s affordable for the Twins.

But we don't know what Rodon's price will be.  The last years he has proved himself worthy of some dollars.  But then again so did Strausburg in Wash.  He had the incredible run in the post season that year.  Since then, it's starting to look like he may be done.  Which is very unfortunate for Wash and SS.

I'd like to see the Twins do is go for it.  Acknowledge the risk, we have depth, and go after a true #1 starter.  You want someone that can shut the other team down on a given night vs a guy who can give you 5-7 innings while being average.  I liked The Machine and would gladly have a pitcher like that on my team but not as my #1.

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After thinking about this for a while and reading all of the interesting perspectives, I'm more convinced than ever that having an Ace is more about luck than anything else. 

That being said, the teams that have the best luck seem to put themselves in that position. Development seems to be the way most teams have acquired their top pitchers. It's also the least risky. Off the top of my head, the Guardians, Brewers and Marlins come to mind as programs to imitate.

I think this is the path the Twins decided to take when they hired the current FO. Overall I think it's still a work in progress and we've seen a lot of good, not great. In 2023, I'm hoping for a little bit of luck to see one (or two) of the good pitchers become great.   

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On 10/28/2022 at 3:17 PM, mk said:

After thinking about this for a while and reading all of the interesting perspectives, I'm more convinced than ever that having an Ace is more about luck than anything else. 

The Twins are overdue for some good luck. I think Joe Ryan has the potential to improve to Ace level, so maybe that's where luck can turn in our direction.

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On 10/27/2022 at 4:28 PM, DJL44 said:

I don't see a reduced injury risk pitching Duran out of the bullpen. Relievers get injured all the time. If he's pitching there's an injury risk. Might as well get as many innings as possible while he's healthy.

60-70 innings in high leverage situations vs. 28 starts & 150 innings in games where you may not score much or get the lead at any time. Less risk for health problems and best value to help WIN GAMES. If that’s not obvious logically, not sure what to say.

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On 10/27/2022 at 4:28 PM, DJL44 said:

I don't see a reduced injury risk pitching Duran out of the bullpen. Relievers get injured all the time. If he's pitching there's an injury risk. Might as well get as many innings as possible while he's healthy.

 

3 hours ago, JD-TWINS said:

60-70 innings in high leverage situations vs. 28 starts & 150 innings in games where you may not score much or get the lead at any time. Less risk for health problems and best value to help WIN GAMES. If that’s not obvious logically, not sure what to say.

I think the relative injury risk varies greatly from one pitcher to another. Some pitchers are sprinters (relievers), and some pitchers are distance runners (starters). For some, pitching short intense stretches with short rest works better than pitching long, more measured stretches with long rest. For some it's the other way around. And in this case what's best for the individual will wind up being best for the team. We just need to identify which pitchers are which and have the right mix of pitchers to cover the innings that need to be covered.

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