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Well, That's $4.35MM We Can't Get Back...

Twins exercise 2007 option on right-handed sinker-baller.

On the surface this looks like a bit of a questionable decision.  In spite of the fact that Brad Radke will probably retire, the thought of spending $4,350,000 on what appears to be barely a back-end-of-the-rotation kind of guy is a bit sketchy at best.  After all, with talents like Matt Garza, Boof Bonser and Scott Baker on the threshold, why overpay for a guy whose numbers could probably be duplicated by any of the Twins' 76 pitching prospects?

Dig a little deeper however, and it doesn't look like such a bad deal.  In addition to the loss of longtime rotation mainstay Radke, Francisco Liriano is going to need some pretty hefty layoff time.  This would leave your starting rotation with one pitcher with any sort of experience, Johan Santana, and the three guys I mentioned earlier:  Garza, Bonser and Baker.  Between them they had enough innings in 2006 to match Santana's innings exactly.  A starting rotation short on experience, no matter how much talent, is a huge question mark.

Passing on Silva's option, then, would have tied Minnesota's hands as to where their free agent money would need to be spent.  They would need to find a veteran starter.  Being that starting pitching, as always, will be a premium in the offseason, and with agents knowing what situation the Twins would be in, you know they'd be asking us to break the bank on what would probably be a mid-level talent.  While Jason Schmidt, Greg Maddux or Barry Zito wouldn't look too shabby donning Minnesota jerseys, it's just not in the cards.

What likely has happened is that the Twins have overpaid for Carlos Silva, to the tune of $4MM, instead of overpaying for the likes of Woody Williams, to the tune of $6MM.

Of course, this is all merely conjecture.  I've been wrong once before.

Year     IP  GS   ERA  WHIP   K/9   G:A   OPS
2002   84.0   0  3.21  1.31  4.93  2.81  .726
2003   87.1   1  4.43  1.48  4.95  1.83  .779
2004  203.0  33  4.21  1.43  3.37  1.58  .801
2005  188.1  27  3.44  1.17  3.39  1.55  .740
2006  180.1  31  5.94  1.54  3.49  1.29  .889

If something happens over the winter that helps Silva regain his once commanding sinker, if he puts up 2005 type numbers his option is going to look like a steal.  Playing the odds, even if it means saving money against a free agent starter, well...sometimes you have to bite the bullet.

Should Silva faulter, the Twins will have in-house options available in addition to the low-end veteran starting pitcher they'll probably acquire.  After Johan, there's Garza, Bonser, Baker, Perkins, Slowey and even Guerrier.  Those seven, plus Silva and the TBA FA SP (figure that one out!), will give the Twins at least nine men to compete for the five rotation slots.

Of the major areas in need of attention for the Twins in winter, we were given a direct view of our team's direction for one of them on Tuesday.  Picking up Silva's option speaks volumes about our expectations for not just Silva, but for the free agent market and our ability to reel in talent at a reasonable price.

We still have a fistful of dollars to spend this offseason.  It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens next.