Baker Named Fifth Starter; Slowey Trade Rumors Sizzle


MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins announced their starting pitching rotations for Opening Day which is a mere week away. The big debate was who would be that fifth starter and who would start the season in the bullpen.

Well it looks like that guy going to the ‘pen won’t be Scott Baker; the Twins announced him as their fifth starter today.

There has been some question as to how healthy Baker’s arm is, but he is trying to vanquish any doubts about his winning the fifth position.

“Once I get loose and get the blood moving, I feel pretty good,” Baker said. “So, I don’t know, I think that’s just part of it.”

The more important news in this is that Kevin Slowey will be starting the season in the bullpen which doesn’t help to extinguish the raging fire that is the trade rumor revolving around Slowey. It has been reported by multiple sources over the course of this month that Kevin Slowey, not Fransisco Liriano, will be on the move by the time Opening Day rolls around. Now the likelihood Slowey does move before Opening Day is pretty slim based on the short amount of time between now and then, but more amazing feats have been accomplished. Plus with the Mariners and Brewers reportedly heavily interested in acquiring the Twins pitcher, the front office may get the urge to feed prospect junkie habit.

FoxSports reported earlier  this week that the Twins aren’t clouding any trade rumors involving Slowey, in fact they are making it well known he is available going as far as saying what they would want in return, and that’s relief pitching. This is laughable as the Twins made no real efforts to retain Jessie ‘Crain Wreck’ Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch or Pat Neshek who will all be suiting up for new teams this year; Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto and San Diego respectively.

The Twins may also be jumping to conclusions about their starting pitching; each year they claim to have the best young starting five in all of baseball, but they haven’t made it past the ALDS since early last decade. The Twins have some depth at starting pitching, but

there is absolutely no evidence that this rotation warrants the confidence to trade away that depth for relief pitching.

Carl Pavano and Fransisco Liriano are really the only two pitchers that Twins fans can have confidence in. The rest are really wild cards at this point. Brian Duensing is still young and really hasn’t won a big game yet. He has lost both times he pitched in the playoffs. Nick Blackburn is so hot and cold he is about to run Icy Hot out of business. He will pitch a complete game shutout one night against the Angels then get lit up for 8 runs in the first against the Royals. Plus the fact he spent time in the minors last year to try and regain control of his game doesn’t sit well at all.

And then there is Baker, who is starting to become one of the worst long term contracts the Twins have given out in a while.  Baker is a classic example of the Twins trying to catch lightning in a bottle and failing. Baker has had one solid year as a Twins pitcher, the others have been a sub-par disaster.

The question then becomes if not Baker, then who?

There is Slowey, who had a no-hitter going last year before he was pulled for being on a pitch count. But Slowey, although a better option than Baker, is still erratic at times and lends no more stability to the rotation than Baker. There is also Glen Perkins or Kyle Gibson but Perkins is an implosion machine, going as far as almost quitting the team last year. And Gibson has no major league experience.

So when it comes down to it, if the Twins do decide to trade away Slowey for relief help, they are really giving up what they have for what they have. This is because Slowey is in the bullpen, and he’s got starting pitching quality. If Slowey’s greatest strenght is to pitch 3-4 solid innings, why would you trade that away for a guy who can pitch 3-4 solid innings but just so happens to have the title of reliever? The chance to trade starting pitching away for a run at the championship was last year when the Twins should have packaged Baker and prospects for Cliff Lee. And there may be a scenario like that which makes itself present this year. But the bottom line is now is not the time to trade Kevin Slowey.

But then again, I don’t run the Twins, i just write about them.