The starting pitching situation - part II: the targets

As I indicated earlier, the Twins need a fifth starter to supplement Slowey, Baker, Liriano and Blackburn in the rotation. There are several internal possibilities (Swarzak, Mulvey); however, I think that the Twins need to reach outside the organization for a proven starter, keeping these 2 in AAA, in case of an emergency.

There are several big name high price free agents (Sabathia, Lowe, Shields) available, but they will be priced much higher than the Twins can (or should) spend. Peavy is also available in a trade; however, he is signed to a 3 year, $52 million contract, that does not reflect his ability.

Looking at the available pitchers, there are 2 intriguing and realistic possibilities, for the Twins to examine:

Pedro Martinez 37, RHP. Pedro had the most trying season of his career in 2009, coming back from shoulder surgery, injuring his hamstring and having his father pass away.
He started 20 games and pitched 109 innings, compiling a record of 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA, 1.569 WHIP and 44 BB vs 87 K. Returning from the shoulder injury, his fastball velocity was higher than recent years but his location suspect, potentially due to mechanical changes made by the Mets' pitching coaches. However, Martinez made adjustments throwing more off-speed pitches (only 59% of his pitches were fastballs) and his curve, thrown 16% of the time, was practically unhittable (.175 BAA compared to .346 BAA for his fastball). His changeup, used 20% of the time resulted to a .262 BAA.

Why do I think that it would be a good signing for the Twins?

Fastball location takes time to return following surgery (see: Liriano, Fransisco). His curve has been extremely effective post surgery and it is an out pitch. With proper rest and rehabilitation and return of the fastball location, he could win 15 games and post a sub 4.00 ERA, surpassing Perkins' performance in 2008. A season close to his last in Boston (when he was a post season hero) delivering a 16-9 record with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP is not out of the question.

In addition to the tangible benefits, there are the intangible: He is a first ballot hall of famer and will provide a positive presence among the Twins' young pitching staff. He can help players like Baker, Blackburn and Slowey develop. He has guts, he pitched hurt, he pitched through pain and never implodes on the mount. Those are good attributes to learn by example. In addition, he is a personable guy and first class person who has been shown to take young players under his wing

Pedro would likely command a one year, $5-8 million, contract ladden with incentives and an optional second year that can be guaranteed if those incentives are met.

Jamie Moyer 47, LHP, is probably the most quiet 246 game winner in baseball. He is participating in his fourth postseason and his first world series. Last year he compiled a 16-7 record with a 3.71 ERA and 1.329 WHIP playing in an extremely hitter friendly park (park factor 105). He stared 33 games and pitched 196.3 innings. In away games he posted a 2.92 ERA and a 2.40 BAA. Opponents hit .276 off his fastball (thrown 58% of the time), .233 off his curveball (6%), .239% off his slider (.13%) and .241% off his changeup (23%). He was in the second year of a 2-year $11 million contract with the Phillies.

Why would he be a good singing for the Twins?

Even though he will be 47 by next spring training, he is in top shape and very effective. The 196.3 innings he pitched this year was his lowest total since 2000. He is very durable, has a great delivery and is not injury prone. He had publicly said that he wants to pitch until 50 and he is in shape to make it happen. A second lefty would be a good addition to the rotation. In addition to his on the field accomplishments, he is a model citizen (like Martinez).

Jamie would likely command an incentive ladden 2 year contract at $5-7 million per year.

Who would I pick, if I were Bill Smith? Pedro is the more risky bet, but the facts are that: a. well, he is Pedro Martinez and b. in addition to filling up the dome (and potentially Target Field) every time he pitches he has the higher potential upside. It is very hard to pass on a 3-time Cy Young winner, who knows how to pitch in the important games and has a world series ring to show. And he is Pedro Martinez.

Thus, my fourth move this post season, would be to sing Pedro Martinez to an one year $5 million contract that can reach up to $8 million with incentives and a vesting option for the second year based on innings pitched.

Next installment: bullpen

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