Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How does the rotation look?

I visited my brother for his birthday today, brought him some beer, some pizza, and he lamented the state of the Twins rotation. He was "sick of it" he said, in someone more colorful verbiage. I have long preferred a strong offense, because that means one has a deeper team. If you rely on pitching, injuries are much more problematic. This is why I I loved the Garza-Young trade at the time. Trading a pitching prospect for a hitting prospect. Too bad the Twins don't really develop hitters, pure hitters. Torii Hunter never would have had the chance to find his bat if he couldn't hit. Morneau and Mauer can play the field, otherwise they wouldn't be up. The Twins needed a right handed bat after Hunter left, but they couldn't put up with shaky fielding.
I am here to ask whether or not the Twins rotation is really all that bad. In my opinion, Scott Baker is an ace pitcher if he can pitch at Target Field. It's perfect for a flyball pitcher, and especially one that has Denard Span and Ben Revere playing every day.
Next is Carl Pavano. He's just... old. No, he's not bad, or wimpy or anything like he has been accused of before. He's just wearing down. If you look at his peripherals since he has arrived in Minnesota, his stats indicate that he should perform about the same as he did last year, and probably should have in 2010 as well. He doesn't strike anyone out, which will eventually come back to get him, and is becoming more of a ground ball pitcher, which, while typically good, isn't so great with the Twins.
The third stalwart is Francisco Liriano, who has been on a steady three year rotation. Awesome, injured, struggling with a comeback. Last year was "struggling". This year, he should be coming back with an awesome year. Healthy Liriano gets a lot of strikeouts, AND allows some fly balls. He is a more groundballing, higher strikeout version of Baker. Maybe not perfect, but certainly a more attractive pitcher to other teams than anyone else on the roster, if we are talking about trade candidates.
Nick Blackburn. Ugh. He doesn't strike anyone out, and last year, he started walking people. He get's a few ground balls, I guess, but is mostly a fly ball pitcher. It's just that in the past couple of years, his fly balls went really, really far. He can't possibly be as bad as he was in 2011. Or can he? I would rather see Duensing in the rotation.Well, maybe not quite that, but at least he's there.
Then, of course, there is Jason Marquis. Carl Pavano Jr.? No no, Jason Marquis. He is sort of a blend between Pavano and Blackburn, really. Groundballs, a few strikeouts. He won't be BAD, so long as we realize he is just the 5th starter. So, Marquis fits. The problem is the ground balls, of course.
That said, what if, on days Marquis was on the hill, we move the better defensive infielders into the lineup and maybe give Ben Revere an off day on those days? We'll probably need the help.
I guess, what I'm trying to get at is that the Twins rotation isn't a disaster. I think a lot of the Twins problems can be mitigated with the right defense depending on the pitcher. Is Ron Gardenhire smart enough to plan this way? We will certainly find out.

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