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You Are Joking Right?

by Dan Gunderson

The Minnesota Twins spent 9.5 million on two pitchers and traded one of their two starting center fielders for another during the 2012 off season. The reason was to try and bolster a retched 2012 pitching staff.

The Twins finished 28 out of 30 in the majors in pitching ERA, 29 in hits allowed, 28 in runs allowed, T-28 in home runs and dead last in strikeouts. In fact, they were in the only team in Major League Baseball last year to not even reach the 1,000 strikeout plateau as a pitching staff.

The moves were made out of necessity because the front office had to show it was doing something to improve now and not just building up the roster for 2014 and/or 2015. We are now halfway through the 2013 season and the pitching for the Twins might be worse than it was last year.

Through 86 games this year, the Twins are 29 in ERA, 29 in run allowed per game, 29 in hits allowed and again dead last in strikeouts. When it comes to quality starts, three runs or less allowed in six innings or more pitched, the Twins are dead last in that category as well.

With any problem, someone needs to carry the blame here. I believe that as an organization, the Twins have had the wrong approach to pitching for a long time. Since 2008, the Twins have ranked in the bottom 10 for total strikeouts as a pitching staff.

Not surprisingly, 2008 was the year after the club had traded their two-time Cy Young award winning pitcher Johan Santana. Santana, a special talent, had single-handily put the Twins in the top 10 for total strikeouts as a club twice, once in 2004 and again in 2006.

Since then, however, it has been a cavalcade of “pitch to contact” type pitchers. Think of the Twins opening day starters since 2008. Livan Hernandez, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Carl Pavano and Vance Worley. Not one of those pitchers make you think he’s going to rack up the strikeouts.

Maybe Liriano pre-surgery but post-surgery he was a shell of himself. It would appear that the organization as a whole holds “pitching to contact” in a higher regard than developing pitchers who can just strike a dude out.

I know the Twins don’t exactly have a horse on the mound that can throw 130 pitches in six innings, but it does get annoying when I see pitchers like Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn get praise because they gave up eight hits over six innings and only gave up four runs.

I would like to see the Twins develop the type of pitcher that can actually strike a batter out. In my opinion, this won’t happen while Rick Anderson is the pitching coach. Outside of Johan Santana, what pitcher has developed into a great talent under his guidance?

Liriano is all the sudden on fire in the National League. Kyle Loshe left the Twins, found himself in St. Louis and averaged 11 wins per year in five seasons with the Cardinals. Young guys who needed some guidance and Anderson didn’t have any to give to them.

So, before the Twins have pitchers like Trevor May or Alex Meyer make the big leagues, I hope they make sure and relieve Anderson of his duties before he destroys their big league careers by telling them the strikeout is worthless. You better pitch to contact.