Twins Courting Pitchers, Falvey Claims

AP Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast

After a 99-day lockout, baseball is finally coming back. The news came Thursday afternoon, after the MLB and MLBPA found common ground on a previously sour collective bargaining process that lasted 99-days too long.

Minnesota Twins players will arrive in Fort Myers throughout the weekend and all are expected to be in town by Sunday. Opening Day will be April 7 at Target Field. This is a pro baseball team, however, that’s far from being ready to compete in just 27 days.

Pitching Please

Yes, the Twins could use a starting-caliber shortstop. Neither Jorge Polanco nor Nick Gordon are answers for the game’s most difficult defensive position (outside of catcher). Reeling in a nice DH and/or backup centerfielder would be welcomed, as well. But what the Twins NEED, if they hope to compete in the AL Central, is pitching. Mostly, high quality, front line starting pitchers. At least two of them.

Outside of their latest reclamation project, Dylan Bundy, the Twins don’t have a starting pitcher on roster with more than 126 MLB innings under his belt (baseball-reference.com). If forced to list five guys in order, I guess it’d be:

  1. Joe Ryan – 26.2 IP
  2. Bailey Ober – 92.1 IP
  3. Dylan Bundy – 770.2 IP
  4. Randy Dobnak – 125.2 IP
  5. Lewis Thorpe – 59.1 IP

Falvey’s Pitching Promise

Shortly after baseball’s return was announced, Twins’ President of Baseball Operations, Derek Falvey, told media that he and the front office are determined to address their extreme need for proven arms.

Pitching is the top priority, as usual. The Twins have been impressed, during two weeks of minor league camp, by their pitching prospects, some of whom could reach Target Field this year. But with a rotation that currently includes righthanders Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan, who have thrown 118 major league innings combined, plus reclamation project Dylan Bundy and Randy Dobnak each coming off the worst year of their career, it’s too risky to count on the kids.

“We need some veteran presence too, so that’s going to be a focus of ours here,” Falvey said. “We’re going to contact as many teams and agents as possible to work that market.”

Derek Falvey (via Star Tribune)

Better Late Than Never?

Mr. Falvey conveniently forgot to mention one important point when he spoke on Thursday. This same front office has already passed up multiple opportunities to address their pitching problems pre-lockout. Instead, the Minnesota Twins sat on their hands and watched while much of the league was making trades and signing free agents back in November, in preparation for the December 2 lockout.

Oh, Byron Buxton handed them an extension deal on a silver platter. That saved pitchfork nation from running the Pohlads out of town. Apparently, that was all the offseason energy the organization could muster before baseball was frozen in time.

Walk The Walk, For Once.

And now, all of the best free agent pitching options are gone. So, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are left mostly to a trade market that they have been hesitant to dive into since arriving in Minneapolis a half-decade ago. Consider me skeptical until a legitimate insider announces a deal that sends a #1 or #2 starting pitcher to the Minnesota Twins.

If Falvine can’t find multiple top-end starters in the next week or two, their promise to compete for a playoff spot in 2022 will ring even more hollow than all of the countless number of times they’ve promised to find more pitching.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan