In the spirit of Halloween, the Twins are doing their best to horrify fans, as they announced this afternoon that they have picked up Carlos Silva's $4.35 option for 2007. Silva was downright painful to watch this season, posting numbers that ranked among baseball's worst in almost every major category. And now, for that performance, he will be receiving a raise of more than $1 million to come back next season.
It's difficult to be overly critical of Terry Ryan and the Twins for making this move, because their hand was forced to a great degree. If Francisco Liriano was healthy and locked in as a starter for next season, and if Brad Radke wasn't almost certain to retire, it's entirely possible the Twins would have parted ways with the 27-year-old Silva rather than grossly overpaying him for what will likely be another sub par season. The fact is that Johan Santana and Boof Bonser are the only sure things heading into the off-season; Scott Baker had a highly disappointing season in '06 and Matt Garza failed to prove himself as a bona fide member of the rotation. Even with Silva coming back, it's likely that the Twins will still be in the market for another veteran starter during the offseason so that they won't be forced to rely on two inexperienced and inconsistent youngsters at the bottom of the rotation.
Declaring Silva worthless might be a bit premature. We cannot forget that Silva was very good in 2005, posting a winning record and a very good 3.44 ERA. With that said, his 2006 season was an absolutely disaster and it's really difficult to see him returning to form after the way he struggled all year long. He's a pitcher that treads a dangerous line: a sinker-baller with almost no ability to strike out opposing batters, who must induce groundballs to have any success. As we saw this season, the ability to force opposing hitters to put the ball on the ground is a skill that comes and goes and if he doesn't have it, he's basically throwing BP.
The Twins' decision to pick up Silva's option is no treat, and sadly it's probably not a trick either. The team is simply low on arms in the rotation, and they have to go with the guy who has some experience. The fact that he'll be eating up almost $5 million in salary is disappointing, but that's just the way things work.