On my way to Detroit for the Twins opener, and feeling like this team has gone from mildly promising to ominous since Ervin Santana's suspension was announced.
The suspension means that Terry Ryan's new plan to improve the Twins rotation has failed.
Time to go back to Plan A.
The pieces to Plan A are still in place. It's just that one of them isn't very impressive, and the other two are at best delayed.
Ryan's original plan to upgrade the Twins rotation was to trade cente rfielders for young pitching. He sent Ben Revere and Denard Span to the East Coast for Vance Worley, Trevor May and Alex Meyer. When Worley failed, he found himself signing Ricky Nolasco.
Worley was awful. Nolasco was awful. Now that Santana has been revealed as a cheat, Ryan needs the remaining two pieces in his original plan to succeed.
Meyer and May could be the key to the season.
A rotation featuring Tommy MIllone and Mike Pelfrey is not optimal. Given the unliklihood that both will be competent, Phil Hughes will repeat his breakout performance of last year, and Nolasco will be more than a fourth starter, eventually the Twins will probably have to turn to Meyer and May eventually to save their rotation.
That's fitting, in a way. Ryan correctly finds free agency to be a high-risk approach to team building. He built his reputation and the Twins roster from 1998-2007 with excellent trades. If Meyer and May produce, he will again have helped a bad team improve with astute trades.
If Meyer and May don't deliver, then this will be another lost season, and the Twins' wave of excellent position-playing prospects may arrive in the big leagues to find that the pitching isn't good enough to win, no matter how well they play.