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And Then There Were Five: Twins Sign Jason Marquis to Round Out Rotation

Minnesota has been attached to a number of starting pitchers over the last few weeks, but Jason Marquis is a new one. That doesn't mean he's any different than the others (at least, any of the other realistic targets). Let's take a quick look to see how our new starter stacks up against those other rumored targets.

Pitcher '11 Age ERA FIP xFIP WHIP K% BB% GB%
Jason Marquis 32 4.43 4.05 4.02 1.49 13.0 7.3 55.1
Joel Pineiro 32 5.13 4.43 4.38 1.51 9.8 6.0 48.3
Jeff Francis 30 4.82 4.10 4.29 1.44 11.3 4.9 47.1
Edwin Jackson 27 3.79 3.55 3.73 1.44 17.2 7.2 43.8
Jon Garland 31 4.33 4.66 4.86 1.39 12.2 8.7 39.1

Jackson, of course, doesn't quite fit the mold set by Marquis, Pineiro, Francis and Garland. But he was never really within the Twins' budget.

Analysis after the jump.

Looking across the numbers, it's easy to find the silver lining here. Not ony is the one-year, $3 million dollar contract very team-friendly (if Marquis accumulates one win above replacement, he'll have been more than worth his wages), but he's the best non-Jackson pitcher among free agent starters who crossed the Twins' crosshairs. He's also become the biggest ground ball pitcher in the rotation.

None of this means he's the pitcher the Twins actually needed. Minnesota wanted a number five, and they got one, but with limited resources (we're back to talking about a reduced payroll) Terry Ryan was handcuffed in terms of what kind of hurlers he was able to pick from. He was forced to choose from marginal, veteran pitchers whose upside is a number five starter, instead of being allowed to search for the number two or three guy who could have also been a realistic option.

Having Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano at the front of the rotation isn't a bad thing. They both come with risks but are also each capable of striking hitters out and being strong performers.

It's still the bottom half of the rotation that's an issue. Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Marquis are classic Twins "pitchability" types; guys about who front office executives might say "they know how to pitch" in an effort to spin something positive.

Marquis might be better than Brian Duensing or Anthony Swarzak, and he saves the Twins from having to take their long man and lefty specialist and put them in the rotation, but it's important to recognize this move for what it is: a holding pattern. He doesn't make the Twins contenders, but he may make them slightly less worse off. He allows Liam Hendriks to at least start the season in Rochester. And come October, whether he stuck all year or not, he'll enter the free agent market once again.

Signing Marquis isn't a move Twins fans should be mystified or upset about. As Aaron Gleeman stated a couple of hours ago, they should be more upset about what seems to be a $15 million slash in payroll. For the money, Marquis will be just fine.

He just wasn't what this team needed.