Through free agent signings and trades, the Twins have added three names to their 2013 starting pitching mix, along with a couple prospects who can help down the line.
As we assess the progress of this rebuilding unit, can we say with assurance that the three MLB pitchers they've added – Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey – are significantly better than the three that just exited as free agents – Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano and Scott Baker? I don't know that we can, and that is troubling.
Here's a look at how the best-case starting five would shake out if everything stayed the same:
1. Scott Diamond
2. Vance Worley
3. Kevin Correia
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. Kyle Gibson
It's got the makings of a below-average rotation, with a chance to be respectable but a greater chance to blow up, especially with flimsy defensive support. Keep in mind that the last two on the list won't necessarily be ready to pitch in the majors right off the bat.
Behind these five names, the depth chart is an assortment of major question marks, including Liam Hendriks, Nick Blackburn, Sam Deduno, Cole De Vries and Brian Duensing. It was quite clear last year that none of those players had what it took to start in the majors, so it'd be somewhat surprising if any (save for perhaps Hendriks) suddenly turned a corner and became an adequate piece.
Long story short, the Twins' immediate starting pitching outlook remains dreary. At this point, the addition of even one established quality starter would go a long way toward improving the unit's overall chances at staying afloat next season, but it's unclear Terry Ryan intends to do that.
As things stand, it's impossible for me to believe he could look at his current group and feel confident that they're likely to perform a whole lot better than last year's.