In the spirit of the Pioneer Press' Tom Powers' idea that the "Minnesota Twins need more useful players, not stars" if the Twins want to make substantial improvement next year, I present an article addressing the Twins' biggest need this offseason: starting pitching.
Having one of the worst starting rotations in MLB this season, the Twins need to pick up a few new starters this winter. The following article reviews five useful starting pitchers who the Twins should consider signing for their 2013 starting rotation.
Note: All players were listed as Free Agents when this article was written, via BaseballReference.com and MLBTradeRumors.com.
2012 Stats: 16-7, 3.62 ERA, .248 BAA, 28 GS through 179.0 IP.
Career Stats: 197-107, 3.42 ERA, .248 BAA, 405 GS through 2,682.1 IP
Overview: With the presumable departure of Carl Pavano as the Twins "sturdy" veteran, they need to find a proven starter. Enter Tim Hudson.
In Hudson's 14 years in MLB, he has earned double-digit wins 13 times and a winning percentage of .615 or better 13 times as well. Hudson perhaps isn't the superstar that Zack Greinke or Jake Peavy might be, but does that matter?
The Twins need useful starting pitchers. A 36-year-old Hudson who is actually worth $9 million a year? Who would have thought?
(Cough). Carl Pavano. (Cough).
2012 Stats: 15-10, 3.42 ERA, .239 BAA, 33 GS through 227.2 IP.
Career Stats: 87-73, 3.89 ERA, .257 BAA, 217 GS through 1,454.2 IP
Overview: James Shields would be bring a more youthful consistency to the Twins starting rotation than Pavano has. At 30 years old, Shields has played seven full season at the major league level.
In his career, Shields has won 11-plus games six times, recorded an ERA under 4.00 four times and started 30-plus games six times. Shields isn't a top-tier pitcher like Zack Greinke, but he'd be a great addition to the Twins rotation.
Next season, Shields has a $9 million club option with a $1.5 million buyout. If the Twins are lucky, the Rays will buy out his contract to pay for David Price's upcoming and potentially big contract.
2012 Stats: 7-4, 3.70 ERA, .245 BAA, 21 GS through 124.0 IP.
Career Stats: 57-36, 3.76 ERA, .241 BAA, 149 GS through 916.2 IP
Overview: Like Shields, Shaun Marcum is just 30 years old and a pretty consistent starter. Though Marcum has never won more than 13 games in his six seasons as a major leaguer, he has only had one losing season and two seasons of an ERA of higher than 4.00.
Marcum earned $7.725 million in 2012, but with the potential departure of Carl Pavano and Scott Baker, the Twins definitely have the money and the room.
2012 Stats: 12-11, 4.21 ERA, .267 BAA, 28 GS through 171.0 IP.
Career Stats: 60-65, 4.54 ERA, .272 BAA, 159 GS through 1,066.0 IP
Overview: Kevin Correia would be another fairly young pitcher who could add some consistency to the Twins rotation.
The 32-year-old has been a full-time starter for the last four seasons at the major league level, where he went 46-43 with a 4.51 ERA. Correia isn't going to be a superstar ace for the Twins, but he could bring a consistency similar to Nick Blackburn had in 2008 and 2009 (a .500ish record with 4.00ish ERA).
Correia earned $3 million in 2012, and with the Pirates potentially making some moves of their own, the Twins can afford him and might have a good chance at picking him up.
2012 Stats: 12-8, 3.38 ERA, .237 BAA, 28 GS through 173.0 IP.
Career Stats: 116-107, 4.11 ERA, .258 BAA, 322 GS through 1,986.0 IP
Overview: Similar to Tim Hudson, the 35-year-old Ryan Dempster could potentially replace Carl Pavano as the veteran starter on the Twins.
Dempster has been a starter for 11 of his 15 seasons in MLB. In seasons that Dempster started 30 or more games, he averaged a 13-11 record, 4.08 ERA and .251 BAA. Not bad. However, the Cubs paid Dempster a whopping $14 million in 2012. If the Twins want to sign him, they shouldn't pay anywhere near that.