Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Friday, November 17, 2006

Jason Jennings on the Horizon?

The Star Tribune is reporting that the Twins and Rockies are discussing a deal that would bring SP Jason Jennings to the Twins, likely in exchange for some young pitching. Let's take a look at the deal for a little bit.

First, Jennings is not a bad pitcher, he just plays one on TV. Last year, he went just 9-15, but he was pitching for the Rockies. His ERA of 3.78 was solid, and he struck out significantly more batters than he walked. But . . . if you look at his three-year averages, his ERA is a significantly higher 4.71 - he posted a 5.02 in 2005, and a 5.51 in 2004. The question for the Twins, then, is whether Jennings as a Twin would be more like the pitcher who was pretty solid last year, or the pitcher who has been a bit erratic over the majority of his career. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt here - Jennings is just 28 years old, meaning he's young enough that it's very possible something finally clicked. I still expect that his 3.78 ERA was an outlier, but if the Twins could get an ERA of around 4.00 from him, they'd probably be something close to satisfied. He would cost $5.5 million and be a free agent at the end of 2007.

So, does it make sense to do a deal? Let's start by looking at the alternatives. With Jennings, the Twins rotation would probably look something like this:

1.) Johan Santana
2.) Jason Jennings
3.) Boof Bonser
4.) Carlos Silva
5.) Glen Perkins/Matt Garza

I'm just guessing here, but I think that Perkins would beat out Garza in spring training for the fifth spot, since he's a lefty. And the Twins might decide to use him as the #4 starter to keep the two lefties in the rotation from going on back-to-back days. But, this rotation looks fairly deep, and while Silva would worry me a little bit, I'd be pretty comfortable with the top 3 guys on the list. Now, without Jennings:

1.) Johan Santana
2.) Boof Bonser
3.) Carlos Silva
4.) Glen Perkins
5.) Matt Garza/Scott Baker

Now I get a little more worried. I like everybody on that list, but there are question marks at 3-5, and as good as Bonser was late last year, he's not exactly a proven commodity yet.

The point is that it probably makes sense for the Twins to do something, and adding Jennings for the relatively low price of $5.5 million (especially in this off-season market, which is turning absolutely ridiculous very, very quickly) for just a one-year commitment is probably a good way to go.

But what to give up? The Strib article mentions that the Rockies want young pitching, and throws out the names Bonser, Garza, Perkins, and Baker. Well, some of that is just ridiculous. The Twins won't be parting with Bonser - he's already clearly part of the plan for the rotation, so the Twins wouldn't be shoring up the rotation at all - just exchanging one pitcher for another. I also don't see the Twins dealing Garza - they refused to include him in any packages that would have brought them an impact bat for the playoff run last year, so why would they include him for a starter now? As for Perkins - at one point I thought he might be tradeable - he seemed less on the radar than the other young guns moving through the system, so there seemed to be at least a chance that he would be on his way out. But he was very impressive when he came up late last year, and it seems unlikely now that the Twins would be interested in moving him. As for Baker? If I were the Rockies, I wouldn't take Baker - he's on the verge of losing his status as a prospect, so he's expendable for the Twins, but he also hasn't shown that he's a Major League caliber pitcher just yet. In other words, the Rockies are going to have to settle for one of the Twins younger, less-ready prospect pitchers if this deal is going to be done, and I'm not sure if they'll be willing to do that. Either that, or the Twins will have to suck it up and part with someone (most likely Perkins) that they really don't want to give up.

I'd say there's a 33% chance that this thing gets done. We should find out fairly soon, because the Rockies want to move Jennings and the Twins probably don't want to wait for someone else to grab him.


  • At Sat Nov 18, 08:47:00 PM , Blogger Twins Territory said...

    I'm hoping they get Jennings. I have also heard Gil Meche. I think if they get both of these players they will have a good rotation.


    What do you think?

  • At Sun Nov 19, 07:44:00 AM , Blogger JST said...

    I don't think they will get both Jennings and Meche. Jennings will cost $5.5 million next year, and as a free agent in a market low on pitching, Meche is liable to cost more than that. Picking up both would cost the Twins significantly more than they can afford to spend. Additionally, I think it unlikely that the Twins will want to sign a pitcher like Meche to a multi-year deal, because the cost of the young guys (Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, etc.) will continue to rise year-to-year, and so money will have to be freed up.

    I think the Twins will get Jennings or another pitcher who they can trade for, but I doubt that they are going to sign any starters through free agency. The cost this year is just too high, and the benefits just not substantial enough.


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