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Tag:Erik Bedard
Posted on: November 22, 2012 1:23 pm
 

What Might Be, But Never Will

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have A’s season tickets, and to have been through a magical season.

About once a year, I beg the front office of my childhood favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, to do something aggressive. You would think I would’ve learned by now. But I haven’t.

Here I go again. This week, I was seriously disheartened to witness the Twins filling their 40-man roster. Naturally, this wasn’t because the Twins added Kyle Gibson, Aaron Hicks, Danny Santana and other future big leaguers. No. I was disturbed because someone in the front office sees this roster as somehow complete, albeit temporarily, with such potential All-Ordinaries like Pedro Florimon, Casey Fien and Josh Roenicke. I was disturbed because this apparently precludes use of that favored Johan Santana-Scott Diamond vehicle, the Rule 5 Draft.

The Twins have acknowledged that Scott Diamond is in the rotation for 2013. And that’s it. There are four openings. Let’s say for the sake of argument that three starting additions would be necessary to create a competition for the fifth spot. Kyle Gibson and others would theoretically compete for that fifth spot if the prior three were filled by established big leaguers.

Between the Rule 5 Draft and free agency, even given the usual Minnesota constraints, humble approach, and strike-throwing requirements, there are abundant possibilities. No one wants to see the Twins pay Carl Pavano a salary of $8 million again. No one wants to see the Twins fork out $25 non-sense millions to Jeremy Guthrie.

Let’s start with the desire for a front-end stud, in the almost unthinkable event of a playoff appearance. The Twins are not stacked up to make a deep run in the playoffs because their pitching is barely major league in caliber. It just so happens that some unique combinations are available.

The Twins assert that $25 million or so. I’m going to spend it now.

Dan Haren is going to come with an injury discount at some rate significantly less than his $15 million option. Let’s say the medical reports come in on his back that he’s a risk worth taking. That may already be out of the question. If he were medically sound, I’m offering him $10 million, willing to go to $12, for the one-year deal to re-establish himself. Even better if this is an incentive-laden offer, heavily focused on innings, starts, quality starts, and similar benchmarks of his previous durability.

Ryan Dempster is a character. He’s goofy, light, and known around the National League as a clubhouse Blyleven. I’m offering him the last contract of his baseball life, two years with a third year option, at an average annual value of $8 million, with bonuses for all kinds of things including returning to his strikeout-per-nine rate over 8.0, making 28 starts, and so forth. Dempster ends his nicely above average career as a Twin, and the team gets a tremendous influence on the pitching staff.

Next, I want some subprime talent looking for a shot. I want Jonathan Sanchez, who is truly out of control at times. Or Erik Bedard, who is maybe a little mercurial. Or Rich Harden, who will break down after 6 weeks. Or Scott Feldman, who will be motivated to prove himself – but who doesn’t look like these others in that he stands very little chance of missing 150+ bats. Or Shawn Marcum, who is an overachiever in the mold of Brad Radke. Unfortunately, Marcum likely breaks the bank for this plan. These moves would be out of character for the Twins front office.

Now for this commercial message: Dear Twins front office, your pitching approach has not been successful. Dare I say, it has been an outright failure. Where is Shooter Hunt now? How about that Carlos Gutierrez? It’s high time to consider a mix of approaches, so that all five starters don’t resemble the cloned, high-80s heat of a gopherball strike thrower. And how did that Jason Marquis signing pan out? Or even the front end approach with Pavano? For an organization holistically geared to strike throwing, where are the strikeouts? I do understand and agree with Crash Davis’ truism: ground balls are more democratic. But that approach would require pitchers to successfully throw more outs. That doesn’t seem to be happening.

Back to our approach. The combination of Haren, Dempster and Sanchez has a chance at producing more than 550 strikeouts, and is veteran enough not to require years of development. Swap out Sanchez for the injury risks of Bedard or Harden and you have different clubhouse risks. The personality of Bedard, and the seemingly recovered prima donna of Harden. Either way, you still run out to the mound with a shot at 175 Ks. Switch those with Feldman or Marcum, and you are more likely aiming for 500 strikeouts, but with a notably more mature rotation that allows Diamond, Gibson and Company to continue on their normal development path, won’t have to count on rookies in slots 3-5, and makes a statement to fans that will sell more tickets.

With the new ballpark, the Twins face a new reality in the AL Central. They are no longer poor. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ billionaire owner is trying to grab that ring before his end of days. That’s the new reality. Winning will require a different approach. For the passing fan, the Twins simply haven’t shown the ability to break out of their terribly outdated business model.

Instead, we’ll wind up with Joe Saunders and some other Jason Marquis clones like John Maine.

I no longer wake up on Christmas morning hoping for something surprising under the tree in Minnesota. And that’s why I’m so thankful that I live in California now, with all the chances at winning that these teams present.

Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:59 am
 

My Personal Plea to Twins Management

Although I left Minnesota in 1989, I remain a part-time Twins fan. Call it KirbyPuckettitis. I was once rabid and have fallen back to your regular, ordinary buff. In reality, I truly and deeply love baseball, and the Twins are among the nearer objects of my affection - along with my poor, sad, adopted Oakland Athletics.

When I watch an offseason progress, I care not what four-letter networks report as breaking news in the Northeast. Neither does 90% of the American population, though, so I realize I'm not alone and do the best I can with what little I'm given (come back to the West, Pedro Gomez).

Among the many reasons that I love the Twins is that they are crafty chess players. They have become masters of the parlay. They sometimes get lucky (see AJ Pierzynski for Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan). Sometimes, they are just dead right about a player who doesn't fit. Matt Garza remains a player with a bad attitude. Rumor has it he'll get moved by the Rays partly because he still Cadillacs it between starts. Grow up, child.

More often, they convert over time player after player in a fashion that would require ages to reveal the genius. Here we note that three regulars in the 2010 Twins lineup were results of the Chuck Knoblauch trade in 1998. Possibly even more brilliant is that they've recently renewed that cycle to net a minor leaguer with years of forward potential still... from Chuck Knoblauch.

Here's how:

Chuck Knoblauch begat Eric Milton, Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, and Danny Mota. Eric Milton begat Carlos Silva and Nick Punto. Brian Buchanan begat Jason Barlett. Cristian Guzman, via free agency, gave the Twins pick 84 of the 2005 draft, resulting in Brian Duensing. Jason Barlett, with Matt Garza, begat Delmon Young, Jason Pridie, and Brendan Harris. Brendan Harris, with JJ Hardy, begat Brett Jacobsen and Jim Hoey.

Brian Duensing, Delmon Young, and Nick Punto all remained contributors on the 25-man roster throughout the 2010 season.

Genius.

Unfortunately, their recent playoff runs have not been so remarkable. The offense seems to be there. The starting pitching might be the single easiest thing to which a fan could point as a shortcoming. The Twins' rotation is full of contributors. But for a World Series contender, these typical number threes and fours would not be on the frontline, with the possible exception of a recuperated Francisco Liriano.

The Twins need an Ace. The current rotation of Liriano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, and Brian Duensing might cut it for 162 games, especially with Kyle Gibson waiting in the wings, but it won't mow down the wild card team in round one.

Rumor mills across the hot stove seem to have linked the Twins to Zack Greinke and Brandon Webb, current and former Aces. Here is my twist on this idea, Dearest Mr. Smith.

Get them all, and then some.

Trade Kevin Slowey, Aaron Hicks, and a third (and fourth?) player for Zack Greinke. Sign Brandon Webb to an injury-discounted contract. Push Blackburn back into the bullpen, ready to start at the first sign of a sore shoulder.

Even better, do all of the above and additionally trade with the Mariners for Erik Bedard in another injury-discounted deal.

The window is open. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and their supporting cast won't do this forever. Contending pressure from the White Sox and Tigers is sure to rise.

Take a shot at an Ace. Or three. Greinke, Liriano, Webb, Bedard, and Baker looks a heckuva lot scarier than Liriano and Co as they are today.

Please take the shot, Mr. Smith. I'll pay to see that rotation.
 
 
 
 
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