January 19, 2009

Twins closing in on a reliever?

The Twins bullpen was tied for 17th in baseball with 27 loses last season, including 23 blown saves which was tied for 16th in baseball.According to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he was told by a "source" that the Minnesota Twins and Eric Gagne are close to a deal that would bring Gagne to the Twins as a setup man. Another source debunked that rumor and said that the Twins were close with a "handful of relievers" and that nothing with Gagne nor his agent were close.

Gagne, 33, has spent time with 4 different organizations in the last 3 seasons. At one time, Gagne was the best closer in baseball and even won the 2003 National League Cy Young Award. Following his second Tommy John Surgery of his career in 2005, Gagne has had a hard time re-gaining his old form. He has shown flashes of great pitching, but nothing substantial enough to warrant enough optimism that he'll really ever regain it.

He has been putrid in the last year-and-a-half with both the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, although he did have a good second half with the Brewers. He had a 1.00 WHIP and a .205 BAA to go along with a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings after the All-Star Break.

In December of 2007, Gagne's name came up in the infamous "Mitchel Report." In it, he was accused of using Human Growth Hormone. His numbers with the Dodgers sure could back that up, but it's hard to say after he underwent a second Tommy John Surgery within the last 10 years.

The Twins are probably interested in a $3-4 million deal, which one could argue is a huge mistake or a very good low-risk, high-reward kind of deal. I'll leave that decision up to you. I personally can understand both sides of the argument.

The Twins have also been linked to former Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Brandon Lyon as well. However, La Velle E. Neal doesn't believe that the Twins are one of the teams that have reportedly made him an offer worth $9 million over 2 years. That deal makes a little more sense in that Lyon's numbers have been much more stable in the past couple years than Gagne's, but with relievers like Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama presumely one a year away from making it to the majors, signing a guy for 2-years when we should be trying to re-sign other players, makes a little less sense.

But really, the Twins need to do something. Of course we can try counting on Matt Guerrier having a better season and seeing an improvement from Jesse Crain and/or Boof Bonser, but the Twins need to reassure that the bullpen does not become their achilles heal in 2009 like it was for them in 2008. Luckily the Twins have a lot of in-house options. As long as they're better than last season, I don't care who's in the bullpen.