Twins management would prefer that Matt Garza, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey get additional seasoning early on.
FORT MYERS, FLA.
Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson raves about Carlos Silva's splitter, Sidney Ponson's demeanor, Ramon Ortiz's live arm. Manager Ron Gardenhire lauds the smiles on their faces, his favorite indicator of a ballplayer's passion.
GM Terry Ryan explains the realities of a free-agent market so irresponsible it makes you wonder if baseball owners are the kind of people who leave their kids in the car while they gamble at Mystic Lake.
Anderson, Gardenhire and Ryan are credible and accomplished, so their defense of their proposed 2007 rotation flows over you like a Sanibel Island breeze.
Until you see the names and numbers in black and white.
Then you wonder if they've spent too many nights at Potts, the nearby bar the Twins' staff has nicknamed "The Black Hole" because of its gravitational pull.
Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Boof Bonser, Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson. Right now, that rotation is in pencil. A realist would prefer invisible ink.
If the White Sox or Tigers were trying to win the AL Central with this rotation, the Twins would be holding gloves in front of their faces to hide their giggling.
Last year, Silva went 11-15 with a 5.94 ERA and pulled himself from a game in the pennant race because of indigestion. Bonser went 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA. Ortiz went 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA. Ponson hasn't posted a sub-5 ERA since 2003.
If all three excel this year, Anderson should spend next year running the Vikings and Timberwolves, then fixing the Middle East.
Remember, this is the organization that asked us to believe Tony Batista and Juan Castro could hold down the left side of the infield. At least their handling of Batista and Castro provides a model for managing this rotation. They'll need quick trigger fingers.
If Silva, Ponson and Ortiz struggle, the Twins need to be prepared to call up their kids.
And although you might not hear many public admissions this spring, the Twins braintrust knows that the young pitchers who might not make the team out of spring camp -- Matt Garza, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey, even a revamped Scott Baker -- will be the key to the season.
Saturday, for what it's worth, Garza and Perkins had veteran hitters shaking their heads during live batting practice, and there is little doubt that Garza has the best chance of the healthy pitchers in camp to become a true No. 2 starter behind Santana.
Ryan offered this defense of his proposed rotation: "I don't think it would be wise to come in with too many young guys that you're counting on," Ryan said. "That usually doesn't work out too well. Last year, we were relying on too many of them."
Didn't the Twins play their best when Bonser and Garza were in the rotation?
"That is correct," Ryan said. "And there is no question that if we had not brought up Matt Garza last year, with all of the things that he accomplished in the minors last year, he's a guy everybody would be salivating over."
Garza went from Class A to a pennant race in baseball's most competitive division last year, went from Fort Myers to Fenway Park while becoming the USA Today minor league player of the year.
|Baltimore - WP: F. Garcia||6||FINAL|
|Toronto - LP: R. Dickey||5|
|Cleveland - LP: V. Pestano||4||FINAL|
|Boston - WP: J. Tazawa||7|
|LA Angels - WP: B. Buckner||7||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: J. Guthrie||0|
|Colorado - LP: R. Betancourt||5||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: S. Romo||6|
|Minnesota - WP: P. Walters||3||FINAL|
|Detroit - LP: D. Fister||2|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood||2||FINAL|
|Cincinnati - WP: H. Bailey||5|
|Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke||5||FINAL|
|Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers||2|
|NY Yankees - WP: I. Nova||4||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - LP: J. Lueke||3|
|Atlanta - WP: A. Varvaro||7||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: B. Lyon||5|
|Philadelphia - WP: C. Durbin||5||FINAL|
|Washington - LP: D. Storen||3|
|St. Louis - LP: S. Maness||3||FINAL|
|Los Angeles - WP: P. Rodriguez||5|
|Miami - LP: R. Webb||1||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - WP: J. Peavy||2|
|Oakland - WP: A. Griffin||11||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: L. Harrell||5|
|Atlanta - WP: M. Minor||6||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: D. Gee||0|
|San Diego||9||Top 6th Inning|
|Texas||4||Top 6th Inning|
|Real Salt Lake||1|
Poll: Who should be the next Twins starting pitcher to lose his job?