Thursday, January 04, 2007

An Inadequate Answer

On Tuesday I wrote on this blog about the dilemma the Twins have found themselves in, badly needing a starting pitcher with just six weeks remaining until players report to Ft. Myers for spring training. One day after I wrote this article, the Twins made news by signing Sidney Ponson to an incentive-laden one-year contract that could be worth up to $3 million.

In the article I wrote Tuesday, I brought up Ponson as a possible signing for the Twins and said the following:
Ponson has intrigued scouts because he can throw hard and he had a few solid years with the Orioles. Ponson is still only [30], but he has poor control and his numbers over the past three seasons have been exceptionally ugly. At this point, it's unrealistic to expect him to put up better numbers than Silva did last year.
It is an unfortunate truth. No doubt there will be optimists who look at Ponson's 2003 campaign (216 IP, 17-12 record, 3.75 ERA, 134 K/66 BB) and see no reason why he can't return to that form with a fresh start in Minnesota, especially with a pitching coach in Rick Anderson who has proven himself as a magician time and time again. Sadly, that simply isn't very likely. Ponson has had just one good season outside of his '03 campaign (that one coming in 2002) and he has shown steady decline in his numbers over the past three years.

On top of his poor on-the-field performance, Ponson has struggled with alcohol and legal issues for the past several years. He has been arrested for driving under the influence on multiple occasions and in 2004 was arrested in Aruba for assaulting a judge.

The contract that Ponson signed was a minor-league deal, meaning there is no promise of a major-league roster spot. This is potentially good news, because it indicates that Terry Ryan is keeping his options open. The question now is whether Ryan signed Ponson as a backup plan in case one of the young guys (or another signing or trade) doesn't pan out, or as a legitimate member of the 2007 rotation. My guess is that much will depend on what Ponson looks like in spring training, and if he looks as bad as he did last year, he won't make the roster.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ponson is not what the Twins need. Neither is Silva. What the Twins need is a solid starting pitcher who can eat up some innings, and have a winning record. Right now, the Twins have Santana and question marks. If Liriano or Radke were pitching this season, you'd have one - or two - fewer question marks. But they're not. I was hoping the team would go out and get a Randy Johnson or one of several other quality pitchers. They haven't yet.
The picture actually looks better for 2008. One or two of the Twins' youngsters will likely make a positive impact and will have another year of experience; Liriano and Santana will likely be back.
But unless Bonser and Company can make an early positive impact with the Twins, 2007 is likely going to be a challenging year.

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