Minnesota Twins: Fixing the Bullpen

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer IJuly 10, 2008

My opinion on what Minnesota should do before this trade deadline is scattered everywhere in various posts.

The purpose of this blog entry is to detail exactly what I, posing as GM Bill Smith, would do to improve these Minnesota Twins if given the opportunity.

There are three main things I would want accomplished.   


1. Get Rid of Brian Bass/Upgrade Bullpen

First things first: Bass needs to go. He is clearly the worst reliever on this team, and he isn't helping Minnesota win ballgames. If he goes, however, there is then a huge hole in the bullpen. There are two ways the Twins can replace him: internally or externally.

If they go the internal route, it is really quite simple. Once Bass is demoted, you move Liriano up to the bullpen to be that eighth-inning guy everyone is complaining about. He isn't back to his 2006 form yet, but he has vastly improved from when he was first sent down to Rochester.

Actually, Liriano has pitched 84 innings over the course of 14 games. That is an average of six innings per start. He appears to have settled down and is able to go deep into games. From that standpoint, Liriano is set to return. His ERA of 4.07 though, is the biggest question mark.

I don't think such a big deal should be made of it. Hernandez has nine wins on the year, and he sports an ERA of 5.44. Albeit he is a starting pitcher and has more innings of run support, but Liriano should do just fine in a major league bullpen.

Should Minnesota choose to address the bullpen problem through their organization, only two steps are needed: demote/waive Bass, promote Liriano.    The other option would be to look outside the organization, at the reliever market.

There are plenty of great options when it comes to set-up men, but I think Kyle Farnsworth sticks out. Yes, he has a fairly hefty contract, and that might discourage Smith from making a move with the Yankees.

Another option I think would be great is Damaso Marte, currently with the Pirates. He too is fairly expensive, but would be worth it. He could help this team make the playoff push by shutting down batters in preparation for Nathan.

A third player I think would fit well in Minnesota is Vinnie Chulk. The reason he is being shopped by the Giants is because of his horrible inconsistency. He started the season by not allowing a run in his first six starts, but has since been just short of awful.

If worst comes to worst, I think Chulk could be a nice set-up man, though, because of the skilled Minnesota pitching coach, Rick Anderson. He could help Chulk tweak whatever it is he started doing wrong.

Of course, all trades require something in return. The ideal situation in my opinion would be to get rid of Livan Hernandez in the process of acquiring a set-up man.

That would greatly reduce the potential headaches on the Twin's part. The Yankees and Pirates could use a veteran presence in their rotation, but they might not want the 5.44 ERA that comes with the package.

If Minnesota cannot get a deal done involving both Hernandez and a set-up man, I would offer one of the Brian Duensing/Philip Humber/Kevin Mulvey trio and somebody else. Those three are gifted pitchers, but haven't blossomed in Minnesota's farm system. They might not get the best value this year, but Minnesota doesn't need the best set-up guy either.

With the current bullpen, I seriously doubt the Twins can make a major push in the division, much less make the postseason. A serious, blockbuster move would not hurt things, but a simple, lesser trade would also get things done.

Bottom line: something has to be done with this bullpen.


In the next edition I will take a look at the starting rotation.This will be published on my blog, Twins Fix. Please leave you feedback either below, or at the blog.