Well, 2007 is upon us and of course everyone knows what that means. Only two more months until basball’s offseason is officially over with the start of spring training. While many organizations have spent this offseason blowing significant amounts of their payrole "improving" their teams, the Twins have been noticably, if not predictably, quiet. The problem, as the offseason starts to wind down, is that they still have very sizable holes in their Lineup and Rotation. The Lineup is not as much of a problem because they already have a very talented core in Mauer, Cuddyer, Morneau, and Hunter and surround them with guys who are fast and know how to put the ball in play and get on base. Plus, at this stage, there are not too many options out there that, offensively, would be worth spending money on when they have a very deep farm system at their disposal. A little more veteran leadership would be nice, but hey, maybe thats why they resigned White for another year.
The rotation on the other hand is not in as good of shape. With the loss of Radke, they are noticably lacking a good, consistant, veteran pitcher to help anchor the rotation. With the loss of Liriano, they lose a good lefthander to compliment Santana. They do have more young fireballers waiting in the wings but many lack any significant experiance. Bonser probably has the most experiance and will most likely have a very good breakout season this year after his impressive performance against the Athletics in last year’s playoffs. Silva will be coming off of a down year but he is entering his prime and will bounce back. Garza is very good but has some control issues (23 BB 50 IP) and Baker just needs to get more comfortable and realize his potential. Those two will most likely take turns holding down the fifth spot with Perkins getting a couple spot starts now and then. That leaves a large blank spot in the middle of the rotation.
The Twins obviously do not have $126mil over seven years to give away so they have to look for more economical options. They had their eye on Joel Piniero of the Mariners but it would have been a major mistake to sign him and wouldnt help the team much at all. Pineiro had a great start to his career going 30-18 (14 wins in ’02 and 16 wins in’03) giving up less than 100 runs with an ERA in the mid 3.00’s while pitching around 200 innings in 2002 and 2003. But his ERA, WHIP, R, H, and Opp. BA have all steadily risen over the past three seasons. Last season he finished with a 6.36 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 117 ER, and a .311 Opp. BA. Keep in mind he is also pitching in SAFECO field which is one of the best pitcher’s parks in the league. The hitter-friendly Metrodome would not necessarily be the best place for him to stop his slide. Now they are looking at Ramone Ortiz of the Nationals. I don’t even see why he is a prospect because he has never had a good year. Only once in his career has he had an ERA under 4.30 and opponents have batted .273 against him. Plus, He would be another right hander on a staff full of righthanders.
Going down the list of available pitchers left on the market it is very hard to find anyone with very much upside. The one exception to this, and maybe the best option for the Twins, is a familiar face: Mark Redman. Redman came up with the Twins in 1999 but had his first good year with them in 2000 going 12-9 with a 4.76 ERA and 117 k’s. He pitched half of the 2001 season with Minnesota before being traded to DET. He has been by no means a great pitcher but he has been consistant where ever he goes, posting a mid 4.00’s ERA and logging 170-200 IP over the last five seasons. Last year he showed a bit of a jump in ERA but he was also pitching for a Royals team that gave up 899 ER’s. The Twins gave up almost 250 less. He also has pitched moderately well at the ‘dome. In ’06 he posted a 1.56 ERA and a .89 WHIP allowing only 3 ER in 2 starts (17 IP). He has 34 starts there and has a career 4.61 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP and .244 opp. BA in 195 IP. Not incredibly awsome but solid. At 32 years old he is just coming out of what many consider a pitcher’s prime age but He is also a traveled veteran who has a lot of experiance in pitching for both the very worst and very best teams. He was on the 2002 Detroit Tigers which lost 106 games and the next year was on the World Champion Florida Marlins. He has been a victim throughout his career of playing on horrible teams (’01 & ’02 Tigers, ’05 Pirates and ’06 Royals) but has thrived when pitching for good teams. He is also a lefthander. This would mean the Twins could have Santana (L) as their Ace, plug either Bonser(preferrably) or Silva (both R) in the second spot, then follow with Redman (L) in the three spot. He would also probably cost less money than Pineiro who is 28 and still in his "prime". But even if he is a little pricier he has some good upside and the twins would really only need to sign him for a couple years until their young arms get some good experiance. So it is not like they are locked into something.
Given their recent FA moves this would seem a relatively wise and low-risk signing. They wouldnt be taking as big of a chance as some of the other pick-ups of the past year (cough, White, cough, Batista, cough) and compared to the rest of the market he is the best option available for the Twins needs. So, as the 2007 season inches closer and mediocre players are gobbled up by over paying teams, it would behoove Ryan to look at the facts and make a decision before it is too late.