Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who is the Solution at Starting Pitcher?

Since trading Johan Santana, the Twins have been lacking something huge -- a top starter.

There are a few options in the free agent market for a top starter this year. The problem is the Twins will not spend highly for a player like Lackey or Randy Wolf, so the pitcher would either have to be someone had an off-year or got injured this year.

Let's take a look at a few of the options that are being talked about for the Twins in the free agent market, including a somewhat unusual choice.

Rich Harden (28) - Type B (Would not cost the Twins their draft pick)

Harden is a player that is amazing when healthy. But that's the thing, when he is healthy. Here is his innings pitched followed by his ERA from the last 5 years:

2005: 128 - 2.53
2006: 46.2 - 4.24
2007: 25.2 - 2.45
2008: 148 - 2.07
2009: 141 - 4.09

Look at the innings pitched. The reason his innings pitched are much lower than normal is because of injuries. It's expected each year that he will be injured with something, so you just can't expect him to come in and pitch 200 innings and carry the team. Though when healthy, he can be a dominating pitcher (see 2005, 2007, and 2008).

Harden would be a great option for the Twins who are generally willing to take a risk on a player's health, as shown by their signing or Joe Crede last year. He could probably be signed to a 1-2 year contract because of all the injuries. Maybe 2 years $14 million?

Erik Bedard (31) - Type B (Would not cost the Twins their draft pick)

Erik Bedard has the same issue as Harden. Bedard is amazing when healthy, though he just underwent shoulder surgery... Again... Bedard seems to have been very injury prone the last two years. Bedard threw only 81 innings in 2008, and 83 innings in 2009. Though before 2008, Bedard was considered much healthier.

Erik Bedard should be fairly inexpensive because of all the injuries, though he could be like winning the lottery if healthy next year. He could probably be had on a 1-2 year deal because of how injury prone he is. Maybe 2 years $14 million?

Jarrod Washburn (35) (Not a Type A or B free agent.)

Washburn was having a career year this year for Seattle. Though once he was traded to Detroit, it all seemed to go downhill. 2.64 ERA for Seattle in 20 starts, but then a 7.33 ERA for Detroit in 8 starts. To make things worse, Washburn was having knee problems toward the end of the year. The result of the knee problem was surgery.

The Twins shouldn't go anywhere near Jarrod Washburn. Before last year, his ERA was nothing special.

Ben Sheets (31) (Not a Type A or B free agent.)

Sheets hasn't been talked about a lot. It seems that people forget that this guy had a 3.09 ERA in 2008. Though he did have flexor tendon surgery and missed all of 2009. If he could be signed on a one-year deal with incentives, then he would be well worth the risk. If he does come back to form next year, then he could easily place himself toward the top of the Twins pitching staff. Maybe 1 year $4 million with up to $4 million in incentives?

Between those four pitchers, the Twins should have their top focus on Rich Harden. He has the best chance of the four to be that top pitcher for the Twins. If they cannot land Harden, they should go after ether Bedard or Sheets. They are both talented, and very injury prone, so either would be fine. They are both lottery picks though, as no one knows if they will do terrible, or great.

The Twins shouldn't even consider Washburn. Period. He is not the starter they should be looking to get. If the Twins wanted Washburn, they would of just held onto Livan Hernandez.

Who do you think should be the Twins top free agent target for starting pitcher?