We have all formed and reformed our opinions on whether or not bringing back Carl Pavano is the right thing to do, for how long and at how much. If what we are told is true the Twins and the man with the million dollar mustache are close to an agreement. So, this may be an exercise in futility, but I’m going to take a minute to run down some starting pitching options that the Twins could consider if they decide to take a pass on Pavano.
Most of these names have been listed by you, me and my brother on this site in comments. Most of these guys are free agents with a history of injuries; some have upside, some are inning eaters, some young , some old. Here goes…
Ben Sheets (32 years of age)
This is the guy I want most. Mr. Sheets is a right handed pitcher with 9 seasons in the bigs. He has a career ERA of 3.79. More recently, he pitched 4.53 last year for OA’s in 20 starts before going down in July with a torn flexor. He didn’t pitch in 2009 due to surgery. He only pitched 104 innings in 2006 due to injury, are you starting to see the pattern? But, when he is pitching he is worthwhile, his average WAR (Baseball Reference) over 9 seasons is 2.7. He has considerable upside to offset his injuring history. Last season he was given 10million/1yr. This year he would be lucky to get a deal similar to Brandon Web 3 million with up to 8 in incentives. The Twins could offer him something less but similar. With Gibson waiting in the wings, if Sheets only pitches well for the first half the season the combination still has a good chance of putting up numbers similar to Pavano. And, Sheets is 3 years younger with a higher ceiling than Pavano. I would take him before Pavano.
Chris Young (32)
In 2010 he only pitched four games (but they were to the tune of a 0.90 ERA). He is my second choice behind Sheets and with a similar upside and a similar injury history. He has a 3.80 ERA in 7seasons. Like Sheets, Young is 3 years younger with a higher ceiling than Pavano. I would take him before Pavano.
Jarrod Washburn (36)
We all know the story. He’s good pitcher (feel free to disagree) with roots in Wisconsin. He has had some good years some bad but he has pitched over 140 innings every year (except last) since 2000. He was out of baseball last year because he was unwilling to sign for a discount. He could be a great fit if he is willing to pitch for cheaper than previously indicated (2-4 million +incentives). Washburn and Pavano are a wash. But, if Washburn would do a 1year contract for the above price, then sign him up.
All of the following, I would ONLY sign if Pavano wasn’t coming back and we couldn’t get one of the above.
Jeff Francis (29)
He’s a lefty. He has a career ERA of 4.77 in six seasons. But all of those were in hitter friendly Mile High stadium. And, he is known for his control, and placement and his pitch to contact style, which we could assume would be a good fit with Rich Anderson and Target field. He sat out all of 2009, undergoing surgery for his left shoulder. Offer; 2million +incentives.
A righty, who has pitched 7 seasons, 4.66 ERA with TOR and MIL. Bush pitched over 100 innings each year, except the first in which he pitch 97. The upside and downsides are equally low, but he would make good competition for the 5th spot at a low price He has similar numbers to Blackburn. Offer; 1mill + incentives.
Freddy Garcia (35)
A righty with 12seasons experience and a 4.13ERA. He has pitched less than 100 innings 3 times (07, 08 and 09). Offer; 2 million + incentives.
John Maine (30)
A righthander, who has pitched for Bal and NYM over 7seasons. He has a career 4.35 ERA. But, has only pitched over 100 innings twice (07 and 08). Offer; I’d him a minor league contract (500 thousand) and a chance to compete for 5th.
Kevin Millwood (36)
Righty. A pure innings eater, Millwood will pitch 190+ innings for someone next year. Probably with a 5.00+ ERA. I would pass. But, won’t blame them for looking, since our young guys were averaging 5.something innings pitched a game and our bullpen is a question mark. Offer; No.
Jeremy Bonderman (28)
Righty. An innings eater with a injury history (08 and 09). Pass. One thing to consider; he is on the right side of 30. But, that would matter more if there was evidence of a real upside. Offer; No.
I’ll admit the upside on the last two pitchers is low age combined with fact that they may be willing to sign for near the league minimum. I would pass on these guys (in a heartbeat) but added them for your consideration. I know, there is a lot of opinion and little analysis here. But, it's something to read.