Twins Focused On Veteran Starters

One way or another
I'm gonna find ya
I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha

Blondie, playing Nostradamus, predicts that the Twins will get their man.  Be it necessary to drive past their house, or go to the mall...it seems like it's inevitable.

This is twice, in my memory, that the Twins have been tied to Doug Davis.  We already know that the Twins offered Jarrod Washburn $5 million just two weeks ago.  It seems the front office is determined to rely less on variables like Francisco Liriano or Anthony Swarzak in order to bank on inning-eating consistency.  Even if that consistency doesn't have much upside.

There are some easy places for the Twins to upgrade that are more likely to increase their win totals than others, and finding another starter to upgrade the back end of the rotation is one of those places.  Certainly there's something to be said for guys who can soak up 200 innings (Davis hit the mark four of the last six seasons and was within spitting distance a fifth, while Washburn...actually hasn't pitched 200 innings since 2003, he's averaged 173 since 2004), but are either of these guys worth the millions extra they'd be paid over their incumbants?

Name '09 Age '09 WAR '10 Age '10 WAR (Proj)
Doug Davis 33 1.7 34 1.4
Jarrod Washburn 34 2.1 35 1.8

Forgive me for not expecting either of these guys to improve.

Washburn is a flyball pitcher with a career 4.60 FIP.  He experienced one of the best seasons of his career last year.  Davis has spent the last six seasons in the National League, where he got to pitch to weaker offenses than he'd see in the American League, and has a career FIP of 4.41.  He has some control problems, and it leads to a lot of baserunners.

At the end of September we estimated Cisco would get $1.5 million in his first arbitration-eligible season.  Even if he doesn't improve his value at all next summer and, somehow, remains just 1.1 wins above replacement, that's preferrable than going after either Davis or Washburn.  Paying between two and four times more for either one of these pitchers, for the difference of less than one full win, is a waste of money.  And that's in a pessimistic projection for Liriano.

Felipe Lopez is likely to be a 2+ WAR player in 2010.  Orlando Hudson could be even better.  Third base (Joe Crede, Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert, Brian Buscher) was worth a combined 1.6 WAR for Minnesota in 2009.  If the Twins insist on spending another $5 million on the free agent market, there are better options out there.  I don't blame the organization for waiting for Hudson's price to come down, or for not signing someone because they don't believe they fit, but I don't understand throwing money at pitchers who will not make the team better.

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