February 1, 2008

Twins interested in veteran pitching?

Good morning. Yesterday, I mentioned that the Twins would not surprise me if they decided to sign a free agent pitcher to come in here and eat up some innings. In particular, I mentioned Josh Fogg being a possible player of interest, and later both Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press and La Velle E. Neal III of the Start Tribune both suggested this as well. Neal also said that John Thompson is another possibility.

This (like I said yesterday) does not surprise me that they'd show interest in a veteran pitcher. Remember, we're going to be relying on two pitchers (Boof Bonser & Scott Baker) this season who've had 48 starts apiece in their careers. Kevin Slowey has only 11 career starts. Those three are all expected to be in the rotation come opening day. Who is going to fill out the rest of the rotation is anyones guess. There should be a healthy competition between these following players:

Glen Perkins, Phil Humber, Nick Blackburn, Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing

That is definitely a good group of young pitchers. I expect Liriano to make the rotation, however I would be more comfortable seeing him in the bullpen to begin the season. Thompson has been pretty unimpressive in his career. He's won only 43% of his 216 career games (212 starts) while posting a 4.68 ERA. He's an injury waiting to happen, so signing him to a guaranteed contract before he could earn a spot in Spring Training would be foolish. Fogg would likely be able to come in here and give us 170 innings next season, but with a career ERA of 4.90 I think I'd rather just see the Twins go with our young core of pitchers. And it looks like Ron Gardenhire feels the same way:

"There are some veterans out there coming off injuries and so forth that we could take a look at, but we've tried that route," Gardenhire said. "I would rather take my shot with some of these young guys than some of the guys coming off injuries.

"We really haven't seen people out there that are better than our young guys. We've got a young lineup and some young pitchers and there is no sense that they can't go together. We have to give some of those young guys a chance, and they can help us."

(Thanks to "Neckrolls" from Sense from Center for the quote)

That quote is encouraging, however it just doesn't seem right that the Twins won't go out and add a veteran starting pitcher to come in and compete. I also want to reiterate something I said yesterday as well, don't sleep on Zach Day in Spring Training. He has quite a few starts under his belt (60) and some could argue that his overall numbers in both the majors and minors are better than Josh Fogg's and he's signed to probably a fraction of what Fogg is looking at. Despite what Gardenhire said, he'll always prefer veterans over rookies and I just can't say that I'd be at all surprised if we either signed a free agent or a guy like Day makes the rotation out of Spring Training.

Have a good weekend. I might post something on Saturday or Sunday, but I'm hoping to post my "Top 50 Twins Prospects" list on Monday. (Keep your fingers crossed).