Minnesota Twins Should Take a Chance on Joe Saunders: 4 Reasons
Despite the additions of Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden, the Minnesota Twins have done little to bolster their pitching depth through free agency.
In fact, they've done little to nothing besides their woeful pitching additions to address the current situation in Minnesota. To incite a little hope, I put together a small—yet cost-effective—list of free agents that could immediately help the Twins earlier this week.
Saunders could be a nice late grab for a Twins rotation in desperate need of help. He profiles pretty well as a No. 3 starter and could help pitch the Twins out of the bottom of the division.
Let's take a look at what Joe Saunders just might bring to Minnesota.
He's a Lefty
It sounds simple, but having another left-handed starter to take the ball somewhere behind Scott Diamond might entice the Twins front office.
Enter Joe Saunders—the best left-handed starter available on the free market.
Saunders is a bit of a lefty specialist on the mound. He held left-handed batters to a miserly .199 batting average in 2012, as opposed to .307 against righties.
His career splits make me think of a fully realized Brian Duensing. But Duensing finally found his home in the bullpen. Joe Saunders is a starter and will continue to be, regardless of his relative struggles against righties.
At the very least, he'll plug the hole that recently departed Francisco Liriano left on the other side of the rubber.
While Saunders is climbing in age for a pitcher (32), he's been very durable. His 28 starts in 2012 were the least he's completed since 2007 as a member of the Angels'. As such, he's been at or near the 200-inning plateau in the same time period.
Not only has be been durable, but it's been recent—which is a good sign. Saunders threw the most innings in a season in 2011, when he reached a total of 212. He established his career high in starts in '10 and '11 when he took the mound 33 times in both years.
If the Twins choose to roll the dice on Saunders, they can be pretty certain that they'll get at least 180 innings of good pitching.
Given their recent situation, that sounds phenomenal.
He Pitches the 'Twins Way'
Add and subtract. Mix and match. Throw in the 88-92 MPH fastball and it looks like we have the perfect blueprint for a Minnesota starter.
He doesn't miss many bats (5.1 K/9 career), but also doesn't allow many walks (2.7 BB/9 career).
He gives up 9.6 hits per nine innings through his career, but he's relatively staunch in giving up the long ball (1.1 per 9 innings).
His career ERA sits at a respectable 4.15 between the American and National Leagues, so a transition isn't anything to worry about—like I do with Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. Both have never thrown a pitch outside of the Senior Circuit.
Joe Saunders is a prototype Twins pitcher.
He Shows We're Getting Serious
The signing of Joe Saunders would make me think the Twins are beginning to get serious about contending in 2013.
He brings veteran leadership and a proven major league track record to an aching rotation. And with Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and this guy—we might just have a rotation to build around right now.
Guys like Alex Meyer, Trevor May and Kyle Gibson could be ready soon, but they're much more probable to find their way to Minnesota in 2014.
If Terry Ryan and the Twins are truly serious about contending now, they'll ink Saunders and continue hunting for the best possible fits as we inch our way into spring training.