Ladies and gentlemen … they got the ‘stache.
The Minnesota Twins agreed to a two-year, $16.5 million contract with startng pitcher Carl Pavano on Wednesday. His return gives the Twins a stable, veteran starting pitcher on a rotation that has quite a bit of instability and youth.
I like this move from the Twins perspective. Makes a lot more financial sense than giving Matt Capps a deal that pays him more than $7 million to pitch 60 or 70 innings when they could have afforded to keep both Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain with that money, but we’ll leave it there.
Let’s take a look at the roster:
- Starting pitching: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Brian Duensing are probably in. Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn battle for final spot, with loser probably ending up as Twins long reliever. Kyle Gibson will be waiting in the minors if anyone fails.
- Bullpen: Joe Nathan will close if he’s healthy, with Matt Capps and Jose Mijares serving as primary set-up men. Loser of Blackburn/Slowey rotation battle will end up in bullpen. Eric Hacker was given a surprising big league contract and could make the team. Pat Neshek is still in the fold. Scott Diamond – a lefty – is a Rule 5 pick. Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama … hard to predict who will all end up here. Did I forget anyone? Eddie Guardado, anyone? I have to believe the Twins will sign a cheap veteran or two to add to this group. Makes my stomach turn just typing the relievers’ names.
- Everyday lineup: My prediction is CF Denard Span, 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka, C Joe Mauer, 1B Justin Morneau (assuming he’s ready to go, which is a bit of an assumption), LF Delmon Young, DH Jim Thome, RF Michael Cuddyer, 3B Danny Valencia and SS Alexi Casilla. I really think the Twins are better off bumping Nishioka to the 8 spot and sliding everyone – including Mauer – up a spot. But plenty of studies have shown batting order doesn’t matter much, so it’s not a huge deal.
- Bench: Jason Kubel ends up here, although he’ll get plenty of playing time. Drew Butera is also a lock to back up Mauer. Jason Repko would also appear to be a safe bet as a defensive replacement in the outfield for the slow-footed Young and Cuddyer. Trevor Plouffe and Matt Tolbert should get good looks as backup infielders, though there’s a good chance there will be only four bench players if the Twins opt to carry 12 relievers. I have to assume they will. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire generally prefers that, and considering the uncertainty in the bullpen, they could probably use the extra arm.