Last season Scott Diamond was supposed to be the Twins’ Opening Day starter, but instead the left-hander began the year on the disabled list while recovering from offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow.
Once healthy enough to pitch Diamond was terrible for the Twins, going 6-13 with a 5.43 ERA before a demotion to Triple-A. He stayed at Triple-A this season and was even worse with a 6.52 ERA and .328 opponents’ batting average in 80 innings, which convinced the Twins to release the 27-year-old who once was touted as part of their long-term plans.
Diamond has found a new home in the Reds organization, as Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that he’s agreed to a minor-league contract with Cincinnati and will try to turn things around for their Triple-A affiliate. Diamond’s miniscule strikeout rate always meant sustained success would be unlikely, but as far as Triple-A depth goes he’s a fine no-risk pickup for the Reds.
Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the Twins are monitoring the situation of free agent left-hander Joe Saunders and could be interested in signing him if he is willing to take “a minimal deal.”
Saunders made $6.5 million with the Mariners last season, but he struggled to find much interest over the winter after putting up a 5.26 ERA and 107/61 K/BB ratio over 183 innings. The 32-year-old had a tryout last week with the Rangers, who are also on the lookout for rotation depth.
As of now, the Twins project to go with Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey for the first four spots in their starting rotation. Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond, and Vance Worley, who are all out of options, will compete for the final spot this spring.
Phil Hughes will join Ricky Nolasco in a rebuilt Twins rotation, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, agreeing to a three-year, $24 million contract on Saturday.
Hughes, the winter’s youngest free agent at age 27, is coming off a rough season in which he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts and one relief appearance for the Yankees. Getting out of Yankee Stadium and it’s shallow right field porch should do him a whole lot of good, though it’s not like he’s been any sort of ace on the road, either.
The curious thing is that Hughes held out for the longer deal rather than going the Josh Johnson route and signing a one-year contract, with the chance of landing a much bigger payday next winter. Certainly, if he had bounced back and turned in a season more like his 2012, he could have been in a position to land the kind of four-year, $49 million deal that Nolasco just got or something bigger. Frankly, it suggests a lack of confidence that he’d rather have the much more modest three-year deal right now.
With Hughes and Nolasco in the fold, the Twins have clearly upgraded what was the league’s ugliest rotation last season. Kevin Correia will be back to occupy another spot, with Samuel Deduno a heavy favorite to join him. The team still has to decide whether to bring in another veteran or to let Kyle Gibson, Vance Worley, Andrew Albers and Scott Diamond compete for the fifth spot.
The Twins might be about to make one of the biggest free agent splashes in their franchise history. Yes, Bronson Arroyo could be coming to town.
Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that talks are heating up between the two sides and that the Twins have been examining Arroyo’s medical records. That seems like little more than a formality; Arroyo has inherited Derek Lowe’s mantle as the game’s most durable starter, having made 32 starts in nine straight seasons.
The 35-year-old Arroyo, who is likely seeking a two- or three-year deal in the neighborhood of $10 million-$13 million per season, went 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA for the Reds last season. It was the fourth time in five years that he finished with a sub-4.00 ERA and 120-130 strikeouts in 200-220 innings. He fits right in with the Twins’ pitching philosophy of avoiding walks and letting hitters put the ball in play, though he goes about it differently than most; Arroyo largely eschews fastballs in favor of his offspeed pitches.
Arroyo would join a Twins rotation presently set to include Kevin Correia and Samuel Deduno. Kyle Gibson, Vance Worley, Andrew Albers and Scott Diamond will fight for one or two spots, depending on how many veterans the Twins choose to add.
The Indians won their ninth consecutive game this afternoon against the Twins, moving into the first of two AL Wild Card slots. They have now won 19 of 24 games since September 3, doing anything and everything necessary to secure themselves the opportunity to advance from the Wild Card play-in game.
Starter Scott Kazmir was solid, striking out 11 over six innings. He allowed just one run on six hits and two walks. The Indians provided more than enough offense, scoring twice on Carlos Santana’s two-run home run in the fourth, and three in the fifth on a two-run triple by Michael Bourn and an RBI single from Yan Gomes. Mark Rzepczynski, Cody Allen, and Joe Smith combined for three shutout innings to wrap up the 5-1 victory, which pushes the Tribe to 91-71.
The Rays, who entered this afternoon’s game tied with the Indians and a game ahead of the Rangers, lost to the Blue Jays 7-2. Archer got into some trouble in the third inning and manager Joe Maddon wasn’t willing to take risks. Archer allowed three consecutive singles to start off the frame, the last of which tied the game at 1-1. After Archer struck out Moises Sierra, Maddon brought in reliever Alex Torres, who exited the inning without any further damage. But the Jays were ready to pile on, scoring twice in the fourth on an Adam Lind two-run single, and four times in the fifth on two two-run home runs by Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar. Jays starter J.A. Happ was solid, holding the Rays to one run in seven and one-third innings of work. The Rays attempted a rally in the ninth, scoring once, but lost 7-2 to drop a game behind the Indians.
Looking to pick up ground, the Rangers battled it out against Angels starter Garrett Richards. Every batter in the lineup logged a hit as the Rangers staked themselves to a 5-1 lead after two innings thanks to a four-spot in the second on some poorly-executed baseball by the Angels. Rangers starter Derek Holland nearly coughed up the lead in the fifth as the Angels brought it to 5-4, but reliever Joakim Soria came in to put out the fire and get the final out of the inning. The Rangers got two back in the next inning on two RBI singles and from there, the bullpen was able to hold the Angels at bay. The 7-4 victory moves the Rangers into a 90-71 tie with the Rays for the second Wild Card slot.
- AL WC 1: Indians (91-70)
- AL WC2: Rays (90-71) and Rangers (90-71), 1 GB
It all comes down to tomorrow’s action. If the Indians lose and the Rays and Rangers win, we could have a three-way tie. Tomorrow’s scheduled starting pitching match-ups:
- Rays (Matt Moore) at Blue Jays (Todd Redmond), 1:07 PM EDT
- Indians (Ubaldo Jimenez) at Twins (Scott Diamond), 2:10 PM EDT
- Angels (Jason Vargas) at Rangers (Yu Darvish), 3:05 PM EDT