Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Imagining the 2013 rotation

Monday's post examined the very real possibility that one or more 2012 Twins bullpen jobs would be filled by candidates for the 2013 rotation.

Nick Blackburn: 2013
rotation cornerstone?
Let's, today, try to envision what that rotation might consist of.

Obviously, such an exercise is unlikely to be accurate. We don't know in March 2012 what trades might occur before April 2013. We don't know who's going to be injured between now and then, or how injury recoveries will fare, or what minor league starter is suddenly going to discover a great change-up in a different grip.

But looking into the crystal ball might give us some glimmering of the choices confronting Terry Ryan and the rest of the Minnesota front office.

Let's make the following assumptions, in full awareness that it is impossible that all will be accurate and perhaps unlikely that any individual one will:

  • None of the four free-agents-to-be (Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Jason Marquis and Carl Pavano) will return.
  • Neither Kyle Gibson (2009 first-round pick now rehabbing from Tommy John surgery) nor Alex Wimmers (2010 first round pick who essentially lost 2011 to a case of the yips) will be on the Opening Day roster.
  • Brian Duensing is in the bullpen and is not a rotation candidate.
  • There are no further injuries to potential starters in the organization.
  • The Twins retain two of the Anthony Swarzak/Terry Doyle/Matt Maloney use-or-lose trio.
  • The Twins acquire (and lose) no rotation candidates other than those already mentioned.

This is a very conservative set of assumptions. It's possible that Gibson will pitch this year and be ready for a rotation berth in 2013; it's possible that the Twins will re-sign one or more of the veterans. Duensing could re-emerge as a starter, particularly if he finds a way to get righties out. It's almost inevitable that somebody will get hurt; that's in the nature of pitching. Certainly the roster is not going to be frozen.

Let's work with it anyway:

  1. Nick Blackburn. He's under contract.
  2. Liam Hendriks. He should get at least a few months of seasoning in the upper minors this year.
  3. Swarzak. The most likely of the use-or-lose trio to be on the 2012 roster.
  4. Maloney or Doyle.
  5. Scott Diamond.

Expect Liam Hendriks
in the Minnesota
rotation by 2013

That looks disturbingly like last September's rotation, with Blackburn replacing Pavano in the veteran anchor's role and the survivor of Maloney and Doyle taking Kevin Slowey's slot. Remember, though, this is a pretty restrictive list, made up only of pitchers both on the Twins roster now and under team control for 2013, and excluding two prime prospects. This is close to worst-case-scenario stuff.

More likely: Blackburn and Hendriks, yes. One of the free-agents-to-be returns; that makes three. One of the Swarzak/Doyle/Maloney/Diamond group gets a slot; that makes four. And a disposable veteran arm gets added to fill out the rotation, with Gibson's entry anticipated by mid-season.


  1. I think Baker is back unless injured, severely.

    The rest all depends on how they perform... I see them trying to bring Pavano back. I don't see them signing a significant FA, just filler.

    Here's to hoping they draft a lot of pitchers who have a high probability of getting to the bigs and being effective quickly.

  2. That rotation Hendriks/Gibson/Blackburn/Swarzak/Maloney/Diamond will not strike fear to the Houston Astros.

    I think that the magic number is $24 Million, as the money that the Twins will save from the departures of Pavano, Liriano, Baker and Marquis. This can buy 2 $12M a year pitchers, which will put the rotation as:

    New Guy/New Guy/Hendriks/Gibson/Blackburn

    I can live with that

  3. I also wouldn't count on or expect that Gibson or Wimmers will be ready for the majors at the beginning of 2013. There is at least some chance that one of Bromberg, Salcedo, Holbrooks, and couple of guys beginning this year at New Britian or Fort Myers, could be close by next spring as well. It is also possible that a couple of guys out of the 2011 draft(such as Boer) could move quickly through the system.

    But yes, I think the Twins will likely keep Baker if he stays healthy and effective this year. Unless some prospects really jump up, the Twins could be a player for a semi-major free agent next year. I don't think that is real likely, but they could have some money for one.

  4. this is going to be a team filled with scrap heap players and Mauer with his contract.