Few topics I want to briefly cover today before the Twins face Baltimore at noon. First being Joe Nathan, second is the two prospects still in big league camp, third is Frasisco Liriano and finally how can you not have a blog post with out mentioning Joe Mauer.
To start. Their was a twitter post by a very respected writer today Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus speaking about the injury to Joe Nathan. Just to quote the tweet "@injuryexpert: Told that Joe Nathan has an incomplete tear of his UCL -- "25%, maybe a bit more, not in the worst location." #twins". If this is the case for Nathan it could mean either false hope or a chance that he will be able to pitch in 2010. I am still on the bandwagon that he will no pitch this year, but if he does you have to expect he would at least still begin the year on the DL to build up the muscles around the elbow and when he does come back he will be on a strict pitch count. No closing on back to back nights, and he will probably not exceed 60% to 65% of the 70 innings he threw in 2009.
Topic 2 revolves around 2 of the Twins prospects who have made it through first round of demotions and still remain with the big club. Those being catcher, Wilson Ramos and center fielder, Ben Revere. Both have shown why they are so highly regarded among the Twins system and why they will be in the majors sooner rather then later. But the ideas floating around to bring them to Minnesota out of camp are nuts. I understand the logic, people want to have the best 25 players possible on the roster. However in a modern MLB with arbitration and trading that simply is just not possible. Remember Wilson Ramos only played 60 games in AA New Britain last year and Revere was only in A+ Fort Myers. These "kids" still have a good amount to learn about the game and they NEED to play every day. Not be backups to Joe Mauer and Denard Span.
Topic 3 is Fransisco Liriano. Liriano had a mixed outing yesterday against the Florida Marlins. He went 3 innings, gave up 4 hits and 3 runs including a mammoth shot to number 3 prospect in all of baseball Mike Stanton. He also did not walk a batter and struck out 6 making some of the Marlins look silly. So far this spring the Twins are doing the right thing getting Liriano stretched out and keeping him in competition for the rotation because that is where he belongs. The rumor or Fransisco Liriano being the closer is just a fabrication the media created because they want to build up a stir. From what I have heard Liriano and the closer role has not been mentioned directly as a solution for the Twins, rather just an idea to was thrown around. I am sure it was the same way every relief pitcher is the system's name has been thrown around as well. The fact is no one knows who the Twins closer will be. Fransisco Liriano is a starter and he will be a starter. 2006 and 2008 are 2 prime reasons why he should be a starter. There is not one good reason someone can give me for him to close other then he has electric stuff. He has worked very hard for the past 5 months to get back into the starting rotation and help this team win a championship. Let him do it. So far this spring he has thrown a total of 7 innings. He has a respectable 3.86 ERA with 1 walk and 12 strikeouts.
Final topic no surprise is Joe Mauer Contract Distraction as Jack Steal puts it. There is more reason to believe that a deal is closer then we think. Mauer's eventual contract will be unique in the sense that it is the second time a team will try to give close to $200 million dollars to a player without having one of the top payrolls in baseball. The Texas Rangers tried this and failed miserably so Bill Smith and management are being very careful in how they allocate their costs to make sure that the team remains competitive for the future. A good sign of this is the contract extensions to Nick Blackburn and Denard Span. Both of these players are now locked up for the next 4 and 5 years respectfully with club options. Standard forecast models are used to predict what a principles situation will be like in the future. The best way to help get a true forecast model is to limit the variables possible in the formula. Bill Smith wants to know exactly what the year by year allocation of money to his team will be able to fully commit $20 million dollars per year to Joe Mauer. And locking up guys like Justin Morneau, Denard Span, Scott Baker and Nick Blacburn who are all big names on this team help Bill Smith get a better understanding of how his model will read and if it will be feasible.