La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Twins might not be done looking at pitchers, plus plenty of other notes

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 26, 2012 - 3:02 PM


After adding Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey to the starting rotation, and signing Rich Harden to a minor league deal with hopes he can contribute in 2013, the Twins appear to be done shopping for pitchers.

Not so fast.

"I wouldn't say we're done," assistant General Manager Rob Antony said. "I wouldn't say were pushing hard. We have our feelers out there. If the situation is right, we could do something else. If not, we're O.K. too.''

Indications are that they are not going to hand out the two-year deal for $14-15 million that has become the rage this offseason (see Brandon McCarthy, Joe Blanton and Francisco Liriano).  They will let Joe Saunders walk if that is the case. Same for Brett Myers and Shawn Marcum (there are health issues with Marcum too).

But if the offseason continues and the those pitchers remain unsigned, the Twins will take a harder look at them if they lower their demands. Despite having money to spend (they could open the season with a payroll in the low $80M range) they are not going to pay what they think is too much for average pitching.

Let's see how this plays out.

Here are some other notes on the day after Christmas:

THE TWINS' THINKING ON PITCHING

I'm not asserting that the Twins made a good move or not, but their approach to Kevin Correia is their classic move.

The Twins see value in Correia making at least 26 starts in each of the previous four seasons. They feel he was on his way to 190-plus innings last season when the Pirates dealt for Wandy Rodriguez for the stretch drive and bumped Correia to the bullpen. To them, $5 million a year for a back of a rotation guy is reasonable.

Now, Correia has to prove he can pitch in this league and in a park that's not as pitcher-friendly as PNC Park. The Jason Marquis experiment was a disaster last season, so there's concerns about Correia attempting to make a similar jump. But the Twins believe that Correia has a little bulldog in him and will go at hitters and get them to put the ball in play.

Based on their thinking, giving McCarthy $15 million over two years isn't wise. McCarthy has not thrown more than 170 innings in a season and has had injuries (not counting the line drive off his noggin last year).

So let's watch how Correia and McCarthy fare in 2013. McCarthy has the potential to be very good. Correia has been reliable. Who will have the better season?

My take: If you want to stick to your guns and not pay McCarthy because of health concerns or not pay Edwin Jackson because $13 million a year is too much for a career .500 pitcher, that's fine. But keep in mind that if all the cool kids are doing it and you don't take a chance once in awhile, you'll be stuck on an island alone with your principles when it's time to dance.

One of these years, the Twins have to take the plunge.

PACKED CAMP

I need to clarify that the Twins have 34 pitchers coming to camp in February.

They have 22 pitchers on their 40-man roster who automatically get to report with the major leaguers. Last week, the Twins signed Harden and announced that righthanders Bryan Augenstein, Nick Blackburn, Deolis Guerra, Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros and Anthony Slama were being invited to camp.

But there's more. Over a month ago, the Twins announced that right-handed pitchers Samuel Deduno, Shairon Martis, Luis Perdomo, Esmerling Vasquez and P.J. Walters were invited to camp as well. That's what I failed to mention last week.

So the Twins will have a record 34 pitchers in camp in February, one more than last spring.

WINTER LEAGUE UPDATES

Miguel Sano is batting .265 with 4 homers and 14 RBI for Estrellas of the Dominican Winter League. Not great numbers - and he's not playing every day - but the Twins are pleased. "Any time you can get playing time at age 19 in a league like that, it's a good thing," Twins GM Terry Ryan said last week. "He's holding his own down there."

Eddie Rosario is balling in Puerto Rico. He went 3-for-5 with a home run on Saturday and was a triple shy of the cycle. His .349 batting average is second in the league to go with his four homers and 15 RBI. He's playing the outfield in winter ball but the Twins intend to keep him at second base, where his bat could really be an asset.

Chris Colabello spent seven seasons in independent ball before signing with Class AA New Britain last season, going .284-19-98. He's gone nuts in the Mexican League, going .332-17-44 in 57 games. He's third in batting, tied for third in home runs and first in slugging percentage. Remember, this is the Mexican League. And Colabello is 29 and hasn't played above Class AA.

I have a friend who reads the Latin papers for winter ball news. Drew Butera had to leave Estrellas because of bronchitis but returned to the club a few weeks later. My friend said the papers made a big deal about about Butera returning to help the cause.

You can look up stats of every Twins player in an offseason league here.

Etc.

The Twins, as of now, have 66 players scheduled to report to camp. That's 34 pitchers and 32 position players. Add 22 coaches and that's 88 people in uniform - close to a numbers crunch.

The Twins will hand out 88 uniform numbers but have eight retired numbers. That's 96. There will be some 93's 94's and 95's handed out this spring.

Ryan Doumit will take over Steve Liddle's old No. 9.

Oliveros will be at camp but will be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery he had in August.

One more thing. With Pelfrey, Diamond and Correia all being ground ball pitchers, the Twins' need to make sure they have reliable fielders behind them.


 

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