Jimmy Souhan, sports columnist for the Star Tribune has been talking to the Brain Trust of The Minnesota Twins, and he's decided that they are being way too optimistic about some of the free-agent pitching signings they've made.
Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Boof Bonser, Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson. Right now, that rotation is in pencil. A realist would prefer invisible ink.
If the White Sox or Tigers were trying to win the AL Central with this rotation, the Twins would be holding gloves in front of their faces to hide their giggling.
Last year, Silva went 11-15 with a 5.94 ERA and pulled himself from a game in the pennant race because of indigestion. Bonser went 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA. Ortiz went 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA. Ponson hasn't posted a sub-5 ERA since 2003.
Souhan's central point of the column is that the Twins have some young guns that will start the year in the minors--Garza, Perkins, et al that will end up being in the majors sooner than later, and why delay the inevitable.
Which I think is fair enough, and it sounds like the Twins agree with him. However, I still Souhan is a bit unfair at times. Everyone will agree I think that Silva had an awful year last year, but the year before, his splitter was sick, and no one could hit him. Souhan quotes pitching quote Rick Anderson that Silva's splitter is back. If that is true, than he becomes a very credible 2nd or 3rd starter.
Bonser was a rookie pitcher last year. Drawing conclusions based on his year last is just patently unfair. Don't Dare To Question the Power of Boof Bonser! He went 7-6; for an unheralded rookie, that's pretty good. We like Boof, and think it isn't crazy to think he might win 12 games this year.
Ramon and Sidney? Well that is tough to defend, admittedly. But, Souhan is wrong to compare the Twins pitching staff to the rest of the Twins Staff:
Remember, this is the organization that asked us to believe Tony Batista and Juan Castro could hold down the left side of the infield. At least their handling of Batista and Castro provides a model for managing this rotation. They'll need quick trigger fingers.
That's a cheap shot, Jim. Rich Anderson has a history of developing pitchers, and pitchers who leave the Twins have a history of not doing as well as they did in Minnesota (Hawkins, Guardado, etc). Hitters are not Anderson's purview. We'd like to think he pushed for keeping David Ortiz.
Regardless, this is a feared rotation, because it's got Santana at the top of it, and Liriano waiting in the wings, and Garza, and Slowey. Rookies overperformed for the Twins last year. And, not to be silly, or anything, but isn't this squad also returning Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, Joe Maurer, And Michael Cuddyer? If this team was hitting at the beginning of the season like they were at the end, each pitcher would have probably had two more wins.
All of that said, I still like Souhan more than the other columnists at the Star Tribune--for example, Great-Grandpa Dementia.