I posted much of this over at Zellar's blog, but thought I would repost/add some things to get a conversation started here.
As to the rotation, it appears they are going to go with the utterly predictable veterans uber alles approach. It does give me an uncontrollable twitch that the 1-4 in Rochester will be markedly better than the 2-5 in Minny, but the fans in upstate New York need a little love too, I guess.
What really gets me is that they are going to compound the problem by using Bonser, probably the second best guy, as the 5th guy who gets skipped early in the year. That detail won't mean a ton in the standings, but philosophically it chaps my hide when established bad pitchers, two of whom you owe no loyalty to, will be striding regularly to the mound in the early going.
It seems clear that everyone is worried about Silva, which is warranted, and Ponson has been no great shakes this Spring either, and appears to have been given a job based for reasons that escape my understanding for an NRI, but what I really fail to understand is the sedative effect of a few good spring innings from Ramon Ortiz on observers who should know better.
Ortiz had an OK year as a swing man. In 2004. He was a reasonably effective starting pitcher. In 2002. He's been absolutely horrendous otherwise. I don't need to document all the stats, but 2.2 homers/9 over the past 2 years, while pitching in RFK with no DH. He's always been homer prone; he had a little success by supressing his hit rate in 2002. But now his K rate has eroded to the point where there are just too many balls in play for that to work anymore. Guys on base+home runs is not a winning formula.
The rotation is going to be ugly in April and May. There is really very little upside to Silva, Ponson, and Ortiz. I understand that the market was beyond the means of the Twins self-imposed budgetary constraints this off-season, and I further understand that there is a reason not to show up at spring training with a plan to go with Santana and 4 rookies or near rookies, but this rotation is clearly an untenable solution. I just hope they are quicker on the trigger than they were with Batista and Castro last year.
I've seen the thought expressed that Rick Anderson will have a pallative effect on these guys, but I think that's a very dangerous approach. I don't think we can reasonably evaluate coaches, especially as outsiders. There just isn't enough evidence, and there is way too much noise; I wouldn't even know where to begin to judge coaches.
This isn't to suggest that Rick Anderson isn't a good coach; realistically I have no idea, but he seems to do a pretty good job. He's certainly presided over a consistently excellent bullpen, even as the names have changed. That's a plus. But look at the starters. I don't know if he should get any credit for Santana, but I'm willing to give him a little. And he got a couple of good result seasons from Silva before last year's implosion. On the other hand, Lohse didn't advance one inch under him, and he didn't make any discernable progress helping Baker. Radke was doing his thing before Anderson arrived, and kept doing it. Who else? Joe Mays got hurt.
I don't know. I don't want to make this a thread about Anderson, as I said, I don't think we know enough. But I don't think we can really count on some sort of Anderson magic to turn around guys like Ponson and Ortiz (and Silva).