It can be hard to justify the actions of a front office that makes two moves of note over an entire winter, particularly when it's on behalf of a team that was on the verge of a playoff spot following four pretty terrible seasons. There are mitigating conditions, of course. After adding Byung Ho Park and John Ryan Murphy on the position player side the offense was more or less full (perhaps too full). Outside of a legitimate ace starting pitcher, there was no need to add another mid-level arm for the rotation considering the array of options already in-house.
That only leaves the bullpen. Mike Bates' criticism is accurate, but Ted softens the blow a bit. Both have good points and yet somehow the arguments sound familiar. It feels like we've had this discussion about Minnesota's roster construction philosophies, and resulting bullpen options, before.
And we have. Not just here, but in all corners of Twins Territory. When we went over the Twins' bullpen options 13+ months ago, one point was made that the Twins swapped out Jared Burton and Anthony Swarzak. It was to make room for young arms who had not yet arrived, to make room for that one starter who didn't make the rotation, and it was to make room for minor league signings. While Blaine Boyer was a fine stop gap solution, none of those options really worked out for Minnesota.
- The Twins committed all of 26 innings to young arms in the bullpen: 2.2 to Alex Meyer and 23.1 to Michael Tonkin. Nick Burdi and Jake Reed had false starts, Zack Jones wasn't able to properly develop his secondary pitches, and J.T. Chargois was still shaking off some rust.
- Mike Pelfrey was supposed to be in the bullpen out of spring training, but was forced into the rotation when Ervin Santana received his 80-game suspension. The team did put starter Trevor May into the bullpen, but that was out of desperation later in the season and not because he wasn't good enough for the starting five. We'll come back to that point in a moment.
- None of Minnesota's minor league signings made any lasting impact. Boyer pitched well enough, but not well enough to earn a multi-year role with the organization.