Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An old pitching staff

Jared Burton is 33
years old.
The Twins pitching problem is a old story. Literally.

I was poking about in Baseball Reference on Monday morning looking for something new to say about the Twins lineup and noticed that, by BR's formula, the Twins have the third youngest lineup in the American League, with an average age of 27.8.

Then I checked out the pitching staff ages. Guess what: as BR reckons such things, the Twins have the third oldest staff in the league,at 29.5 years.

That shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. The Twins did, after all, base their 2014 starting rotation on four free agent signees (Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey) and base their bullpen on four 30-somethings (Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing and Casey Fien.)

Even when Pelfrey went down, the rotation didn't really get younger. The man with the fifth most starts for the Twins this year, Yohan Pino, may be a rookie, but he's a 30-year-old rookie. The man with the sixth most starts, the departed Sam Deduno, is 30.

The youngest staff in the American League, according to Baseball Reference, is Cleveland's, 2,2 years younger than the Twins. Even Detroit, with the aged Joe Nathan closing and a veteran starting rotation, is a full year younger on average than the Twins.

This ties in, obviously, to my Monday post about the futility of building the rotation out of free agents and the failure of the Twins to find pitchers out of the drafts of 2008-2011.

And it strongly suggests that improvement will require different arms. A staff that averages almost 30 years of age is not one with its future ahead of it.

The Twins have so much invested in several of the veterans, particularly the starters, that it may be a challenge to make room for new blood. Still, that's a challenge that must be met. It's not just the rotation that needs a makeover; as the bullpen's debacle over the weekend against the Angels suggested, the relief corps needs a shakeup also.

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