While their current roster is clearly not working, the 14-27 Minnesota Twins should be looking to make a few mid-season moves in 2012.
As their offense improves from poor to so-so and defense remains solid, the Twins’ pitching has performed terribly this year, and is showing little signs of improvement.
So what’s happened to their pitching?
The Twins starters have pitched a league-worst 6.67 ERA, .319 BAA and 9-22 record through 213.1 innings. They also are the second-worst team in MLB for innings-per-outing, averaging around five.
On the other hand, Twins relievers are ranked 15th best for ERA (3.61), and ninth-best for BAA (.229) in MLB, holding a solid 5-5 record.
Statistically, the Twins’ greatest weakness is starting pitching, followed by offensive production.
This article examines potential moves the Twins should consider to improve their starting pitching and to jump-start their offensive production.
In 2009, the Twins acquired Carl Pavano to add depth to their starting rotation.
Since then, Pavano has pitched a 33-31 record, 4.19 ERA and .281 BBA in 571.2 innings. Overall, not bad.
This year, Pavano has pitched a 2-3 record, 4.91 ERA, .286 BBA, and six innings per outing. Once again, not bad. Yet not good.
A struggling team, whose pitching staff is ranked near the bottom in every stats column, is going nowhere with a $9 million ace whose pitching is mediocre at best.
At the very least, $9 million should give the Twins a starting pitcher who is above average and above .500.
It’s time to trade Pavano.
His 12-3 All-Star rookie year and 14-10 Comeback Player of Year performances are not even comparable to how Francisco Liriano has performed in his 2012 campaign.
During his stint as a starting pitcher this year, Liriano produced a record of 0-5, 9.45 ERA and .346 BAA in 26.2 innings, averaging just under 4.2 innings per start.
Since being shipped out to the bullpen, Liriano has pitched 0.00 ERA , allowed 2 H and .167 BAA in 3.2 innings. In his very short time as a reliever, Liriano is showing signs that he might have found his niche.
Once a sturdy first baseman with four All-Star games and one MVP to his name, the Twins' Justin Morneau has turned into an injury-plagued DH. This year, he has played in just 25 of Minnesota's 41 games due to injury.
Morneau is batting .231, 5 HR, and 15 RBI in 25 games. He's currently on pace to hit 20 HR and 59 RBI.
Still indicating that he has some power, a team looking for a 20 HR hitter might be the right match for Morneau.
However, not many teams would be willing to pick up his $14 million-a-year tab only to get 20 HR, limited time at 1B, and proneness to concussions.
The Twins could be stuck.
At age 30, Nick Blackburn’s best performances so far were back-to-back 11-11 seasons with a four-ish ERA (2008, 2009). In his so-called “best seasons”, he finished fourth for most hits allowed in 2008, and in 2009, allowed the most hits of any AL pitcher.
Fast forward to 2012.
Blackburn has pitched a record of 1-4, 8.37 ERA and .333 BAA in 33.1 innings. Not to mention he is currently on the 15-day DL.
Like most Twins starters this year, Blackburn's stats are not going to win him a spot on the All-Star team. And like other Twins starters, Blackburn averages well below five innings per start.
Known for his athletic plays and blazing speed, Alexi Casilla has helped fill the Twins' middle infield void for the past six seasons. However, during those years Casilla had spent about half of his time in the minors, yet the Twins pay him $1,382,500 a year.
Casilla's biggest downfall is his lack of offensive production (.235/.278/.284) and inability to consistently make fundamental plays on defense.
At the very least, $1+ million a year should give the Twins a middle infielder who can stay in The Bigs for an entire season.
Ron "Gardy" Gardenhire (left) and Joe Mauer.
In 2011, the Twins awarded him $23 million a year for his superb performances in 2006, 2008-2010. In return, Mauer thanked the Twins with .287 BA, 3 HR, and 30 RBI and spent nearly half of his 2011 season on the DL with bilateral leg weakness.
Realistically, the hometown hero will not be going anywhere, especially with his current contract.
Is it time for the Twins to say goodbye to the former Manager of the Year and six-time AL Central champion manager, Ron Gardenhire?
Despite making the playoffs in six out of nine seasons in the Gardenhire years, the Twins have little to show for it. Of course AL Central Champs banners look great at Target Field—however—American League Champs or World Series Champs would look a lot better.
Under Gardenhire, the Twins have a .222 record in the playoffs and have advanced past the divisional series once, to win only one of five games.
With his playoff history, horrendous 2011 season and potentially equally as embarrassing 2012 season, logically the Twins organization needs to consider finding new management.