Taylor's Twins Talk

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

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Twins Take a Chance on Ponson

I suggested a couple days ago that if the Twins signed anybody else this off-season, it would be a veteran starting pitcher to compete for a spot in the rotation. While Tomo Ohka had been mentioned as a possibility, and would have been a solid pickup, the Twins went in a cheaper direction and signed Sidney Ponson, last seen self-destructing for the Cardinals and Yankees last season, and before that throwing away his promising career by abusing alcohol and food. Normally speaking, I don't think he would the kind of guy, character-wise, that the Twins would have pursued; however, Terry Ryan almost certainly did his homework on Ponson, and ESPN says that Ryan is "satisfied that Ponson has put his problems in the past."

I'm not so sure - and I wouldn't give Ponson a great shot of making the rotation. It depends on a lot of things - Ponson will have to pitch very well this spring, and at least a couple of the youngsters (Garza, Perkins, Baker) or Carlos Silva will have to struggle for Ponson to get thrown actively into the mix. We should have a decent idea by about March 15 whether Ponson has thrust himself into a battle for a spot in the rotation, and my money is on Ponson not making the team.

Ponson was signed to a minor league contract, and will make $1 million if he makes the Major League roster, with the possibility for $2 million more in performance bonuses. The structure of the contract is a positive for the Twins - $1 million for a veteran starter isn't bad, and this is not guaranteed cash. The Twins essentially bought a lottery ticket with Ponson - as a result, they benefit whether he succeeds or not, because they didn't overpay for the chance of his success.

Meanwhile, the Twins also signed righty Brad Voyles to a minor league deal. Voyles hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2003 with the Royals, and his career Major League ERA is 6.59. That said, his minor league career ERA is 2.99, and he was pitching well in Venezuela when signed by the Twins. He supposedly will also be thrown in the mix during Spring Training for a starting spot - but it would be stunning if he made the Major League team out of camp, and I don't expect to see him in a Twins uniform anytime - well - ever. Maybe he'll prove me wrong.


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