|Jason Marquis has a career record of 104-98.|
On the face of it, this signing doesn't thrill me. Jason Marquis is 33, he has a career ERA of 4.55, he has a low strikeout rate and, despite Terry Ryan's description of him as throwing the ball over the plate, his walk rate is mediocre.
As a matter of basic principle, I would rather see the Twins open the fifth spot to competition from pitchers who haven't established themselves, not hand it to somebody who has established himself as a mediocrity.
The Twins will now pay Marquis some $300,000 more than Colorado will pay Kevin Slowey. I'd rather have Slowey.
And yet, I see why the Twins wanted to add a veteran starter. They came into Thursday with a projected rotation of Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and an unknown. Nobody really knows what to expect from Liriano, Baker has yet to survive a full season in the rotation, and Blackburn has had elbow surgeries each of the past two winters. It's one thing to have one rotation opening for the likes of Anthony Swarzak, Scott Diamond, Matt Maloney, Terry Doyle and Liam Hendricks to fight over; it's another thing to have multiple holes to fill.
Marquis is the pitcher the Twins appear to think Blackburn is: a sinkerballer who eats up innings. (Marquis, like Blackburn, has not finished the past two seasons; he had elbow surgery after 2010, and suffered a broken fibula off a line drive last August). Marquis actually does get a lot of ground balls. I'm not sure the Twins infield is going to be much help to such a pitcher.
The importation of Marquis is yet another clear indication that Brian Duensing is ticketed for the bullpen. So was the non-tender of Jose Mijares. So was the claiming of Maloney, a left-handed starter who has done quite well in Triple A but never got a clean shot with Cincinnati.
The more I look at Maloney's minor league stats -- and at his walk and strikeout rates in the majors -- I more I like what I see. The problem for him is that the Twins are now paying five veteran starters at least $3 million. Somebody's going to have to get hurt for him to get a shot.