|Nick Blackburn: 2013|
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:
- Nick Blackburn. He's under contract.
- Liam Hendriks. He should get at least a few months of seasoning in the upper minors this year.
- Swarzak. The most likely of the use-or-lose trio to be on the 2012 roster.
- Maloney or Doyle.
- Scott Diamond.
|Expect Liam Hendriks|
in the Minnesota
rotation by 2013
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.