Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is the Real Deal Done?

The Twins seemingly entered spring training with the intention of giving 25-year-old right-hander J.D. Durbin every opportunity to make the big-league club. "The Real Deal" is out of options, meaning that if he doesn't make the team, the Twins will be forced to waive him and almost undoubtedly lose him to another team without compensation.

Sadly, Durbin has done nothing to earn a spot on the team this spring. After giving up four earned runs on five hits and a walk in one inning of work against the Orioles yesterday, Durbin now holds a ghastly 12.38 ERA to go along with a 2.63 WHIP over seven appearances.

I think most Twins fans were pulling for Durbin. A second-round selection in the 2000 draft, he became a highly rated prospect after cruising through the lower levels of the minor leagues, but he struggled in a couple stints at Triple-A in 2004 and 2005. Last year, when he finally seemed to find his own at Rochester, posting a 2.33 ERA through his first 16 starts, he suffered an elbow injury that ended his season and reportedly continues to bother him now.

Despite his live arm and good stuff, Durbin's lingering injury concerns and lack of command make it tough to justify giving him a roster spot, and I suspect that's something the Twins are feeling. A player simply needs to do more to earn a spot on a major-league roster than being out of options, and really that's all Durbin has going for him at this point. I'll be sorry to see a guy with Durbin's potential go, especially when he'd be failing to make the roster in favor of a bum like Carlos Silva, but unfortunately I'm starting to think it's the way things will go down.

If the Twins decide not to keep Durbin, they have two options: they can either try and trade him before the start of the season, or -- as I mentioned above -- they can expose him to waivers. I have to imagine that Durbin's trade value is extremely low at this point. In fact, I have to wonder whether any team would be willing to part with anything of value for him knowing that he'll be probably be hitting waivers soon. Simply put, if the Twins attempt to deal Durbin, they won't have much leverage.

Now we come to this question: if Durbin does not make the team, who will claim that 25th spot on the roster? I continue to believe that the Twins will go north with 12 pitchers, so I do believe it will be a member of the bullpen. Mike Venafro seems like a natural option, as he has yet to allow a run in 10 innings of work this spring and Ron Gardenhire has expressed a desire to bring an additional lefty to complement Dennys Reyes in the 'pen. Gardy has also entertained the notion of bringing Matt Garza north as a long reliever, in an effort to stretch him out and eventually insert him into the rotation (somewhat similar to Francisco Liriano last year). Garza has pitched well this spring, but has not pitched more than three innings in a game, so it's tough to see him starting the season in the Twins' rotation. However, I'd rather see him begin the season starting games in Rochester than working out of the Twins' bullpen.

With six days remaining before the season opener, Gardenhire and the rest of his staff will probably be making some major roster decisions within the next few days. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Durbin and that 25th spot on the roster.

15 comments:

Corey Ettinger said...

The "Real Deal," appears to have been dealt, and its a deuce-eight off suit.

I feel bad saying that of course because I never want to feel like I'm enjoying mocking someone who may very well be without a job in the near future. That being said, the baseball God's gave him talent, and made me 5'8" 130 with three left feet (that way I can trip over myself more ways than one, simultaneously), so I don't feel that bad.

Best wishes to him, though I can't envision him in a Twins uniform once Machado returns. Then again, it is preseason and he wouldn't be the first ball player to have a miserable spring and turn it around in the regular season...

It's not over for him yet. Is it?

Anonymous said...

You say that you can't imagine the Twins getting anything of value for Durbin at this point. That is probably true. But, if they can even get a low-level prospect for him at this point, they might as well. Better than getting nothing for him.

Depending on how many teams would even want him and would put in a waiver claim for him, the Twins may be able to get something minor for him. But, teams no that he'll be available to them on the waiver wire soon, so they may not want to trade anything at all to get him either.

SethSpeaks.net

Anonymous said...

Twins Management are showing their low IQ. Gee lets not take a guy with a O.OO ERA(Mike Venafro), His ERA is just a little too low. If they were smart they would have traded Venafro for an infielder. Is there any reliever in the league who has pitched 10 innings with a 0.00 ERA? They are going to loose Venafro. I am really upset with Twins management. They have made a poor decision here.

Tony said...

I agree. Venafro should have been kept. I am sure he will find another team as AAA is not place for a 0.00 era. Its tough to see him go.

the Dragon said...

Or...he follows the Reyes path and comes up in a month or two, once several other roster issues are sorted...

Nick M. said...

Venafro getting cut is a little strange. But, it might just mean the Twins decided that they don't need another lefty. That's fine, but why not try and trade Venafro then? Nobody could just guess the Twins were going to cut him and lots of teams need lefties, so you could maybe get a low-level prospect.

Nonetheless, the move sets up a potentially bad situation. More and more points to us watching Carlos Silva give up BP to opposing hitters for the first few weeks of the season. Ugh.

Nick N. said...

Let's not make Venafro out to be something he's not here. Ten innings of good spring training performance isn't going to lead me to believe he'll be pulling a Dennys Reyes this year.

Corey Ettinger said...

One of Gardy's strengths is certainly his ability to run a bullpen, in that everyone has a clearly defined role, and he always puts people in a position to be successful. I'm under no illusions that, despite the great year Reyes had last year, he was a career middle of the road guy who fell into the perfect situation and thrived. Whats to say Venafro couldn't duplicate (though obviously to a lesser degree) the increased level of success Reyes achieved?

Over seven professional seasons spanning 253.3 innings, he has an ERA of 4.09 and a K/9 of 4.65

Reyes coming into last year had pitched 519.66 innings with a career ERA of 4.79 although an admittedly higher K/9 of nearly 8.21.

I see no reason why the Twins would let Venafro walk, especially when he is heading into the season with perhaps the most shaky rotation in all of baseball sans Johan Santana.

Le sigh.

Jason said...

"Twins Management are showing their low IQ. Gee lets not take a guy with a O.OO ERA(Mike Venafro)"

Ok, that's a bit ridiculous...

First, let us address the "low IQ" part of the argument. Despite the fact that the management have made a couple bad moves in the distant past, I think the fact that half, if not more than half of the team's former prospects/current starters are result of trades made by management would tend to show that they have a decently high IQ.

Second, I agree with the Spring Training argument, this was only 10 innings during spring training, during which he generally came in late in the games, when the players he was facing were not exactly major-league starters generally. Should he have been cut? I don't think so....however, I also don't think we should have enormous faith in a guy with a career ERA over 4.0 that he's magically turning his career around in 10 spring training games.

Nick N. said...

Over seven professional seasons spanning 253.3 innings, he has an ERA of 4.09 and a K/9 of 4.65

Reyes coming into last year had pitched 519.66 innings with a career ERA of 4.79 although an admittedly higher K/9 of nearly 8.21.


That's the key point. Reyes has always shown the ability to miss bats, which made him a coachable project for Rick Anderson. Venafro has struck out only 131 batters in over 250 career innings, with 94 walks.

I think people are getting too worked up about this. There's no assurance he'll reject the assignment in the first place. According to La Velle, "he said he feels comfortable with the organization and may decide to go to Rochester."

Seeing how well that worked out for Reyes last year, I don't think it's too much of a stretch.

Corey Ettinger said...

Mr. Nelson,

There's something from the comments section a couple of posts ago that I still haven't quite gotten over. And that is the Twins moving Torii Hunter. I know that you believe a move will be made, but you also posited that they may keep Torii and take the compensation picks they'd receive. But some part of that idea smacks of trading a Porsche for a Ferrari concept car.
Sure it COULD be nice, but it's going to take years to develope the engine, chassis, and transmission.

When instead you could trade the Porsche for at least a couple nice Merecedes.

This is especially true in the Twins case when it must be assumed that next year will likely be their last with Johan Santana. Once he's gone, that window for a championship gets a lot tighter to squeeze through.

Kris said...

I'm not trying to make Venafro out be a great pitcher, but I'm left wondering why he was even invited to camp? Other than mass injuries, was there any circumstance in which the guy could've made the club?

Nick N. said...

Kris, sometimes teams will invite numerous non-roster invitees to camp that don't have a serious shot at making the club. Do you think that Matt LeCroy or Ken Harvey would have made the club with big springs? I think the Twins just wanted to keep their options open.

Corey, I'm not saying they shouldn't trade Hunter, I just don't think it's a foregone conclusion that they will. I feel that Ryan might see dealing him in the middle of the season -- particularly if they are in a playoff hunt -- to be a sign of surrender that would upset the fans.

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