Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More talk about pitchers

When the Twins announced the Jim Thome signing last week, Bill Smith (the general manager) indicated that  Carl Pavano was going to spend the weekend making his decision and that saga was likely to be concluded Monday or Tuesday.

Matt Capps: The $7.15 million set-up man
(if all goes well).
That's on hold, we are told now, because today (Tuesday) is the deadline to exchange arbitration numbers. That's a big day for all front offices as they deal with the likes of (in the Twins case) Matt Capps, Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano.

That Pavano can be put on a back burner suggests, again, that he's returning. If he had decided to sign elsewhere, no back-burner is needed.

In other pitching developments:

* Jon Rauch landed with the Toronto Blue Jays (one year, $3.75 million, with a 2012 option). Brian Fuentes signed with Oakland (two years, $10 million). That cleans out the four rated free-agent relievers from the 2010 season. Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Rauch and Fuentes combined for 45 percent of the Twins bullpen innings, according to Aaron Gleeman; I would have thought it more, but Fuentes hardly registers, and Rauch's workload was limited.

Matt Capps has been retained; his $7.15 million is probably more than the Twins had penciled in, but he's back. He closes if Joe Nathan isn't ready, he sets up if Nathan is ready.

The absence of a deep established bullpen brings to mind a story from the early days of the Civil War, when William Sherman heard Abraham Lincoln, after being briefed on the North's problems, say, "Well, I guess we'll manage to keep house." Sherman was not impressed by what he deemed a lack of urgency in Lincoln, but events proved Abe right. The Twins knew the four relievers were departing; we shall see if Ron Gardenhire, Rick Anderson and company can keep house without them. I suspect they can.

* That the A's forked out that kind of money for an overqualified LOOGY/underwhelming closer startled me. Billy Beane is known for trying to exploit market inefficiencies, and one of them has long been the tendency to overpay for saves. Beane has certainly constructed an imposing bullpen, with Andrew Bailey in the ninth and Brad Ziegler, Michael Wuertz, Fuentes and Craig Breslow available to mix and match.

* The Yankees are reported to be sniffing at the decaying corpses of Kevin Millwood and Freddy Garcia to fill out their starting rotation. Such a signing would be akin to the Twins past pattern of signing the likes of Ramon Ortiz or Sidney Ponson; the idea is to fill a gap for a few weeks while a prospect marinates a bit longer in the high minors or until a better option emerges on the trade market.

I find it hard to believe that the Yanks would rather go with a washed-up vet than give Joba Chamberlain a clean shot at the rotation.

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