Saturday, August 29, 2009
Reshaping the pitching staff
It's a rather un-Twinslike flurry of activity.
First it was Jon Rauch, acquired from Arizona Friday.
Then it was Ron Mahay, whose signing is to be announced today. Armando Gabino has already been returned to Triple A Rochester to make room for the veteran lefty reliever.
And in the next day or so, the Twins will find out if they landed Brad Penny or Rich Harden.
Harden (above) is the biggest name and the biggest risk. I'm surprised he cleared waivers in the National League, but the most recent informed speculation has the Twins winning the claim on him.
If so — waiver claims are supposed to be confidential, and there's generally a lot more smoke than visible flame — now comes a day or two of high-stakes poker. Harden figures to be a Type-A free agent, meaning that the Cubs would argue that they can hang on to him and get two high draft picks should he sign elsewhere this winter.
But that assumes that (a) they're willing to offer arbitration to the brittle but talented right-handed starter and (b) that Cubs don't suffer the same fate that befell the Toronto Blue Jays last winter. They lost Type-A free agent A.J. Burnett to the Yankees and only got a third-round pick in compensation, because the Yankees' first-rounder went to Anaheim for Mark Teixiera and their second-rounder to Milwaukee for CC Sabathia.
So there are risks involved for the Cubs in holding on to Harden, although in his case arbitration is probably less risky than a multi-year deal, and the odds of such a triple-strike signing of Type A's recurring are rather slim.
For their part, the Twins are unlikely to be willing to surrender somebody like Ben Revere for a five-week rental, and his lengthy injury history argues against a multi-year deal.
My guess is that nothing will happen on this front. One Internet piece of speculation says the Twins have already dropped their interest in Harden because Friday's Scott Kazmir deal set the prospect price too high. Which may be true, or may be imaginary. It may be imaginary now and be true by the time Monday's deadline arrives.
Meanwhile, Brian Duensing is making the need for another starter a bit less acute. That's three starts, totalling 17 innings, with a 2.65 ERA. Of course, there's really no reason to believe he's actually that good.