Saturday, January 9, 2010

No such thing as too much pitching

After posting on the folly of offering Jarrod Washburn $5 million, I did some more thinking about it, and decided ... it's still folly.

Still, there is a rationale behind it.

Here is a reasonable projection of the Twins starting rotation for 2010 at this point. One can quibble with the order, but the first four are clearly the first four, and the next three are the primary current candidates for the fifth spot, and the rest can be expected to open the season in Rochester, New Britain or lower levels of the farm system.

1) Scott Baker
2) Kevin Slowey
3) Nick Blackburn
4) Carl Pavano
5) Francisco Liriano

Plan B: Brian Duensing
Plan C: Glen Perkins
Plan D: Jeff Manship
Plan E: Anthony Swarzak
Plan F, etc: Mike Maroth, Jason Jones, Carlos Guterriez, Kyle Gibson...

Now ... Baker, Slowey and Perkins all spent time on the disabled list last year. Pavano didn't, but he's spent more time on the DL than active the past five seasons combined. Liriano had an ERA of 5.80 last season. Perkins feuded with the organization and is reportedly being made available in trade talks.

If the Twins could be sure their projected rotation would hold together, or close to it, a spare $5 million would be better aimed at other needs. But they can't be sure. Pitchers get hurt. It's a fact of baseball life.

Let's say just one of the four "sure things" gets hurt. Say it's Pavano. Let's say, also, that Liriano continues to struggle with his command.

Now it's Baker, Slowey, Blackburn, Duensing and Perkins -- and that's assuming that Perkins isn't traded -- with Manship the first guy to get the call if needed. Yikes.

I'm not convinced the Twins would be better off with Washburn than with Perkins or Duensing. But I do see a need for more depth in the rotation. And I particularly see a need for somebody at the front end of the rotation. The Twins won't find that in a $5 million free agent. The guy who might fit that description is Liriano. But, at least on paper, signing Washburn blocks Liriano.

At least until an injury occurs.

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