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TwinsCentric: Pitching Central

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: January 3, 2013 - 9:05 AM

A new year is upon us, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine the Twins' resolution for 2013: Get better. After consecutive putrid seasons that were essentially over by the All-Star break, the club is aiming to field a more competitive group in the coming campaign and beyond.

Certainly they've made some nice moves to address the "beyond" part, but what about the short-term? As I discussed with Aaron on the Gleeman and the Geek podcast over the weekend, there's a sizable difference between striving to compete and actually contending. For Minnesota, the latter is highly unlikely this year but the former should be expected.

As the Twins work to escape the AL Central cellar, they need to concentrate on making up ground against divisional opponents, most importantly in the pitching department. So let's take a look at all of the arms that have been added to the Central thus far, and see how the Twins' acquisitions stack up.

Below, I've listed all the major-league starting pitchers who've been signed, re-signed or traded for by teams within the Central, ranked by my subjective assessment of quality. If I missed anyone, please feel free to add names in the comments section.

1. James Shields (Royals)
2. Anibal Sanchez (Tigers)
3. Jake Peavy (White Sox)
4. Trevor Bauer (Indians)
5. Ervin Santana (Royals)
6. Jeremy Guthrie (Royals)
7. Wade Davis (Royals)
8. Vance Worley (Twins)
9. Brett Myers (Indians)
10. Kevin Correia (Twins)
11. Mike Pelfrey (Twins)

You can quibble a bit with the rankings, but looking over this list one thing becomes clear: every other team in the division has sought and landed higher quality on the pitching market than Minnesota. The Twins had a more urgent need for rotation help than perhaps any other team in baseball, and although they've been aggressive in the sense that they've added several players, the ones they've brought in compare poorly against those acquired by opponents. That's not even touching on the other side of the ball, where other clubs have been making additions (e.g. Torii Hunter, Nick Swisher, Mike Reynolds and Jeff Kepinger) while the Twins have been making only subtractions.

Minnesota was the worst team in the Central last year and the rest of the division seems to be only widening that gap this winter. Simply unacceptable.

The potentially good news is that there are still a few names on the market that would rank respectably on the list above and would considerably improve the grade of the Twins' offseason. These include Shaun Marcum, Kyle Lohse and Joe Saunders, but the crop is dwindling.

It's unclear whether Terry Ryan is interested in legitimately pursuing any of these players. If he doesn't, it will be difficult to look at his offseason as anything short of a failure.

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