March 20, 2007

Starting Rotation Decisions

Coming into Spring Training, the team's biggest question mark was it's starting pitching. Now weeks into Spring Training, it has been their biggest surprise. However, there is still one lingering question still unanswered. Who will be the team's fifth starter?

When Spring Training started, the only thing that was for sure about the rotation was that Johan Santana would be it's ace. But after a few games, the club tentatively announced that the rotation would also include veterans Ramon Ortiz and Carlos Silva. After Boof Bonser's last start, Gardenhire mentioned that he felt that Bonser was a lock for the rotation as well. This means that four rotation spots are gone and the rest of the starting pitchers left in camp would be fighting for that one last spot.

In recent days, the Twins have indicated that they will go with Sidney Ponson as the fifth starter if all goes according to plan. Also, based on their pitching schedule, it seems as if Perkins, not Garza, would be next in line if one of the pitchers fails to impress.

If the decision was up to me, I'd have the following rotation:

1) Santana
2) Ortiz
3) Bonser
4) Garza
5) Perkins\Ponson\Silva

That's exactly right, I'd make Ortiz, Garza and Bonser all locks for the rotation along with Santana. I'd let Silva know that his job is not safe because, after all, he has pitched poorly this spring including his most recent performance against minor leaguers. This to me would show how serious he is about being in the rotation. If he is serious he would respond and work hard to win the spot. However, if he wasn't, he would lose out to one of the other two guys. I'd also give Ponson a chance, because I think it would be unfair to just let him go to give the spot to a younger guy. Perkins would also have a chance at winning the job.

This method would give the young guys that have pitched well, Garza and Bonser, a spot in the rotation and give other young guys a chance to win jobs. I personally think Silva or Ponson would respond and win the job sending Perkins to minors for more experience. But if they didn't respond and win the remaining spot, we would get to see another great young pitcher in Glen Perkins.

Gardenhire recently had the following comment on the rotation which I hope means that they will not call Silva a lock until he proves what he can do.

"Nothing is a lock after Santana," he said. "We like Ortiz. He's close to the next lock. Silva, he's close to a lock. We still want to see a little more out of him."

I think if the Twins are serious about winning, they will leave Silva off the roster if he pitches poorly. After all, we don't want to go through another rough start like we did last season. Last season, the reason we started poorly was because we didn't make the right rotation moves and left Liriano in the bullpen. Hopefully this season we wont have to go through that again.

With all of my opinions, I must say that I think the Twins already see Santana, Silva, Bonser, and Ortiz all as locks for the rotation. I also think they will go with the veteran in Ponson unless he pitches poorly in the next few weeks.

However, no matter what happens with the starting rotation this season, we can definitely say that our future as far as the starting rotation goes looks pretty bright...

* Santana * Bonser * Garza * Perkins * Liriano * Baker * Slowey *