Bullpen Target: Brad Lidge?

30 Nov

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

TWINS BLOG SPOTTING – at the end of today’s blog, you will find links to several Twins-related blog postings.

There has been a lot of talk of late about who the Twins closer for 2012 will be. Since Joe Nathan signed last week with the Rangers, the question has continued to be asked. Yesterday, the Royals signed Jonathan Broxton to a one year, $4 million deal that includes another million dollars in incentives. Broxton was an interesting name for the Twins because he had late-season surgery last year and was said to be looking for a one year, make good type of deal. There is really little risk in any one year deal, even with an injury risk like Broxton.

So who else is out there as a possible closer for the Twins? Heath Bell will make too much money for too many years. That will likely be the case for both Ryan Madsen and Francisco Rodriguez. Frank Francisco could be an option. Francisco Cordero is coming off four years as the Reds closer, but he saw his strikeout rate plummet to Matt Capps-like depths. Speaking of Capps, his name continues to be brought up as someone the Twins are talking to about coming back. As I blogged a couple of weeks ago, I think he is a solid, seventh inning reliever at $2 million, but he will certainly get more than that. However, the Twins got a gift with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement when it was determined that the Twins would get a supplemental first-round pick for Capps even without offering him arbitration. Easy choice… let him go and take the pick!

I think that it makes a ton of sense to at least partake in discussions with the agent of Brad Lidge. Terry Ryan mentioned that he preferred someone with closing experience. Lidge has been a closer since 2004 and has racked up 223 career saves. Remember when he first came up to the big leagues with the Astros and they had a back end of their bullpen with Lidge and Octavio Dotel (who hopefully the Twins are talking to also) were setting up Billy Wagner and all three were sitting over 95 mph? In 2004, 2005 and 2006 with the Astros, he had over 100 strikeouts, which is incredible for a reliever. He recorded 42 saves in 2005. Then in 2008, his first year with the Phillies, he was a perfect 48-for-48 in save opportunities in the regular season and through the World Series championship. Of course, the following year, he went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA  and a 1.81 WHIP.

In 2010, he was back to posting a 2.96 ERA in 50 games before an elbow injury ended his season and cost him much of the 2011 season as well. He returned in late July and was used very cautiously. However, in 25 games, and 19.1 innings, he posted a 1.40 ERA and struck out 23 batters. Of course, that’s more than a little misleading. He also walked 13 batters in 19.1 innings and posted a 1.50 WHIP. The 6.1 walks per nine innings was well above the 4.2 walks per nine rate for his career. He was not used as the Phillies closer when he came back last year. Ryan Madsen was. In fact, Lidge pitched mostly in the 7th and 8th innings.

Although Lidge had not been as consistent over his career as Joe Nathan, he has been very good for a long time. They both faced similar 2010 and 2011 seasons. One similarity is that both of them were much improved late in the season (although Lidge was better). Joe Nathan got two years and $14.5 million from the Rangers. Broxton got one year and $4 million with incentives. Lidge is three years younger than Nathan and seven years older than Broxton. Lidge was healthy the final two months of the 2011 season, whereas Broxton didn’t have surgery until September. So, what will Lidge get?

Would it be worth a flyer on Lidge (who has never averaged less than a strikeout an inning in any of his ten big league seasons) at 1 year and $5 million with incentives that bring the deal to $6 million? Would a $6 million base be too much? Would you consider making two offers to Lidge? Offer #1 would be one year and $5 million plus incentives. Offer #2 could be two years and $8 million and let him decide? I would think Lidge would prefer the one year, make good deal.

I’d be comfortable with Lidge at one year and $5 million.

Twins Bullpen Options as of Today:

Left-handed relief options: Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Jose Mijares, Phil Dumatrait, Matt Maloney, Tyler Robertson.

Right-handed relief options: Anthony Swarzak, Alex Burnett, Lester Oliveros, Esmerling Vasquez, Jeff Gray, Jason Bulger, Kyle Waldrop, Jim Hoey, Jeff Manship, Anthony Slama, Carlos Gutierrez, Jared Burton, Brendan Wise, Samuel Deduno, Luis Perdomo, Deolis Guerra, Cole DeVries.

I mention Liriano as a closer option because it was mentioned two years ago and in a recent NoDak Twins Fan blog. There’s no way I would move him out of the rotation, but you never know. I think Duensing should move to the bullpen because of his splits, but he may be a starter. Mijares can be so good, but he could also be non-tendered. Perkins is the one reliever who really stepped up in 2011 and made himself a trusted arm out of the bullpen. Maloney is out of options. Dumatrait was OK at best with the Twins last year. Robertson was just added to the 40 man roster and likely will go to Rochester. Swarzak came on and did a great job in his role as a long reliever/spot starter. Burnett has so much talent and stuff. He was just pushed too quickly to the big leagues. Lester Oliveros has a chance to be very good. Since he’s just 23, he has a chance to improve his control and be more than just a hard thrower. There are plenty of really good arms in this list, guys that can throw in the mid-to-upper 90s but have had trouble with control in their careers. Vasquez, Gray, Hoey, Deduno and Perdomo fit that category. Bulger has had big league success with the Angels. Kyle Waldrop and Carlos Gutierrez both have the ability to be ground ball machines. They rely on their defense. Waldrop throws strikes which has been Gutierrez’s problem. Jared Burton is very intriguing to me as a sleeper closer option thanks to a tremendous cutter. Jeff Manship was going to be a key bullpen contributor in 2011, but he was hurt the entire season. Anthony Slama has nothing more to prove in AAA. He was removed from the 40 man roster, but he remains someone who can get swings and misses and deserves an opportunity in the big leagues with someone. Deolis Guerra stepped up last year once he was moved to the bullpen. The starter/reliever splits are almost unbelievable. Hopefully he can continue to improve. 2012 will be his final option season. Remember that he is still the youngest player on the 40 man roster. Cole DeVries is worth mentioning because based on his 2011 season in AA, AAA and the AFL, he deserves an opportunity.

There’s a little bit about each of the names currently vying for a bullpen spot. There are quite a few pitchers on this list that have the ability to step up and be very good big league relievers. That’s one side of the story. The other side of the story is that there are only two guys on the list that you really feel like you can count on with any certainty.

I would like to see the Twins bring in three pitchers. I’d love to see two new starting pitchers brought in that can be counted on, but that costs a lot of money. I think a more realistic option would be to sign someone like Lidge for $5 million plus incentives. Sign a good, veteran reliever like LaTroy Hawkins or Octavio Dotel for $3 million, and then see if you can bring in someone like Aaron Harang for $4-5 million (this number is likely low). There is $12-13 million added for three veterans that are reliable. If you want a starting pitcher who is better than Harang, they will either be $10 million-plus for three years like Edwin Jackson (who I like) or they have to be young and still have ace-like upside, which will take a huge prospect package to acquire. I’m not against trading prospects to bring in high-level talent. I just don’t think that this team is a playoff caliber team unless the high-impact, former MVPs are healthy most of the year and Span is as well, and Liriano and Baker step up and Pavano continues to be solid for 220 innings. That’s a lot of Ifs, and if things don’t get well, the plan has to be to develop and acquire young players for 2013 and 2014, so I’d hate to give up too much for any short-term fix.

Terry Ryan has his work cut out for him this offseason. He’s made solid moves so far with the acquisition of Jamey Carroll, who cleans up the shortstop position, and Ryan Doumit, who can catch, play 1B, RF, DH, and pinch hit. He’s brought in some very interesting and intriguing minor league pitchers with live arms and big league experience. What direction will he go with the pitching staff?


Feel free to comment.


10 Responses to “Bullpen Target: Brad Lidge?”

  1. ScottyB November 30, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Two names that intrigue me that I haven’t seen mentioned are Chad Qualls and Joel Zumaya. I wouldn’t make Qualls my closer, but he would be a solid addition to the bullpen (with his 3.51 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 22 holds this year) and only made $1.5M in 2011. Zumaya has been out since he injured himself at Target Field in 2010, but even if his fastball is down 5 MPH from 2 years ago, it would still be faster than most Twins at 95 MPH. Offer him a minor league deal with an invite to ST or better yet, an incentive laden major league contract to try to come back. The Tigers may offer the first option. This could be high risk, high reward. He can’t be any worse than a Jim Hoey. Zumaya made $1.4M in 2011.

    • Seth November 30, 2011 at 9:17 am #

      I wrote about Zumaya as a minor league signing in the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, adn there’s no such thing as a bad minor league signing. He’s intriguing.

      Qualls does nothing for me. He is Matt Capps, so sure, $1.5M is fine.

    • Crapshoot November 30, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      who are some of the players we did not select? guys we passed up 5 different times in one draft? Yovanni Gallardo, Dustin Pedroia, Hunter Pence, Wade Davis, Adam Lind….to name a few

      • Crapshoot November 30, 2011 at 9:53 am #

        sorry…wrong site. Meant to post this on a different site in response to question as to who we could have selected in 2004, but did not.

  2. DH in Philly November 30, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Normally I wouldn’t post a disagreement without providing an alternative. I don’t have one here, but I just don’t like the risk/reward of Brad Lidge @ $5M.

  3. mike wants wins November 30, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Given the likelihood this team is good in the next two years….and the lack of obvious help in AAA right now…..I’m good with most any contracts that are 1 year in nature, as I’d want to see health and luck before committing to anyone for more than a year at this time (unless they decide to go after a player in his prime that is good, but that seems unlikely).

  4. mike wants wins December 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    KLAW mentions Ben Revere as an honorable mention for top 50 under 25, no longer eligible for ROY….in his chat today he says he really likes his defense.

  5. Shane Wahl December 3, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    This was a good post and the podcast was interesting. It has actually changed my view of things. I had become fed up and just wanted the Twins to give the closer role to Gutierrez and spend 3.5 million or so on Dotel as the backup. But instead of that pickup, if Lidge can be had for $5 million and ONE year, then it works for me.

    They are still talking about Capps . . . . that seems insane to me.

    Last year I claimed that Twins fans shouldn’t freak out about losing those bullpen arms because it was “clear” that 3 or 4 of their AAA and new signings would come through and Nathan would eventually come around. Only Perkins came through out of those 3-4. I won’t learn from history and I will repeat what I said last year. I think they should sign one guy (Lidge or Dotel) and then–barring Blackburn moving to the ‘pen, which would be ideal–they have Swarzak as the long man, Duensing as the LOOGY, and Perkins as the setup lefty. Through April and maybe the beginning of May, I assume the Twins will have 12 pitchers, so there are 3 spots left if Lidge is signed to close. An open competition between like 15 guys is fine with me! I sorta like Burton, Oliveros, and Waldrop/Slama to win out, but that’s just me.

    • scot December 3, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

      Blackburn is not cut out to be as reliever just as Slowey wasn’t either.


  1. Friday Links-N-Thinks | Minnesota Sports Zone - December 2, 2011

    […] Seth Stohs wrote about the Twins bullpen situation and wondered if Brad Lidge will be in the mix. […]

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