Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wednesday Tidbits

Happy Wednesday everyone. Before I get into Twins-related stuff today, one bit of housekeeping. I am switching e-mail addresses, from my former University of Minnesota address (nels2807@umn.edu) to a new Google Mail address (nels2807@gmail.com). I figure that since we're closing in on a year since my graduation it's probably time to move on from my school address. So if you'd like to contact me in the future, please keep this change in mind. Moving on...

The latest rumor to pop up around the Twins media-scape is that the team has once again been showing interest in Seattle left-hander Jarrod Washburn. This same rumor emerged around the middle of last season, and it makes as little sense now as it did then. One of the Twins' biggest advantages compared to other teams around the league is how little they are spending to field a pitching rotation that is potentially solid one-through-five. The presence of guys like Boof Bonser, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey provides the Twins with enough depth to absorb injuries or performance issues, so really there is no reason whatsoever to be targeting an expensive mediocre 34-year-old like Washburn.

In breaking down this rumor (one which also strangely suggests the Twins might be interested in acquiring catcher Jeff Clement), Joe Christensen opined that the Twins' pursuit of Washburn "makes sense." Clearly I'd disagree with that, but in explaining his viewpoint Christensen noted that the addition of Washburn "would give the Twins one veteran in their starting pitching staff," and that while the team's five starters all did well last year, "it’s overly optimistic to think they’ll all be that healthy and good again in 2009." That's a fair point, but the Twins have decent rotation depth and adding an overpriced player with minimal upside solely because he comes with the "veteran" label is not likely to augment this pitching staff in any meaningful way. One would think that taking failed gambles on Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson and Livan Hernandez over the past two years, the Twins would have learned something about misguidedly investing in sub par veteran arms solely because they have experience when more talented youngsters are on hand. I don't know if Christensen was speaking from his own point of view or from what he assumes to be the organization's point of view, but I hope it's the latter.

Thankfully, it appears that the Twins have pulled the plug on Washburn talks.  Hopefully these rumors were based on empty speculation by Seattle's beat writers rather than any actual truth. 

If the Twins really wanted to take a shot at upgrading their rotation, they could do something creative like signing Ben Sheets, sliding Glen Perkins to the bullpen and starting Jose Mijares in the minors. Sheets is a major injury risk and he'd be expensive, but he'd likely accept a short-term deal at this point and his upside is huge. The Twins would be in better position to assume the risk associated with Sheets than most teams, since they'd have a somewhat proven backup option in Perkins waiting in the bullpen along with Humber/Bonser, plus Mulvey and a few others in Triple-A.

I'm not saying there's any chance of that happening, and I'm not even saying it's a move I'd necessarily advocate (Sheets' elbow scares the heck out of me). But, my point is that if the Twins really want to make some improvements here late in the offseason, it would make far more sense to take advantage of the opportunity provided by a bizarrely inactive free agent market that still contains a lot of quality players looking for work than wasting resources on trading for a player like Washburn who almost certainly won't provide an upgrade.

That is, as long as the free agent they're targeting isn't Joe Crede.

6 comments:

lookatthosetwins said...

"Wednesday Tidbits". And here I thought it was still Tuesday night. I guess it's time for me to go to bed.

Upside is a good word to use when talking about Jarrod Washburn. At first, I really didn't think he belonged with Livan, Sidney and co... and I was probably right. The main difference is that you know what you are going to get from Washburn. He's been very consistent. Look at his FIP's the last 6 years after his great 2002: 4.97 4.52 4.35 4.78 4.77 4.72. I don't think people realize how long it's been since he's been any good. At least with Ponson, there was an erratic history which made it unclear what he could bring to the table. Why this consistent mediocrity is attractive to the Twins is beyond me. Maybe Perkins will suck. Maybe Liriano will get hurt. This isn't a great scenario, but having Washburn around doesn't really help the matter because we have 3 guys who project to pitch similarly to him in Perkins, Bonser, and Mulvey. CHONE, Bill James, and Marcel all actually project Bonser to be significantly better than Washburn, with Mulvey and Perkins slightly worse. These projection systems probably aren't that accurate for young pitchers, but they do show that we have options, and signing an "innings eater" to eat innings poorly just doesn't make sense.

thrylos98 said...

Sheets will also cost the Twins a first rounder and he has never pitched in the AL. I'd take the risk, but BS will not surround that draft pick. I think that the Twins should have a very hard look at Pedro Martinez who is actually healthy now and probably has a year or two of great pitching left

Nick N. said...

LATT: Great comment. I fully agree.

Thrylos: I had actually considered mentioning Martinez in this post, but I'm not as convinced he's got anything left in the tank, even if he can stay healthy.

Scott Reisenbigler said...

I am glad to hear that Washburn is out of the picture. No way did I want him here. Sheets would be great, but BS would never do anything like that. Signing Sheets is not Twins Baseball. But i am pumped that Spring Training is right around the corner

http://www.bucarant.blogspot.com/

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