Bullpen Rebuild

Last year the Twins’ bullpen was a serious weakness. Bill Smith tried to rebuild on the cheap after they lost several key members via free agency. Result? This year Terry Ryan has to rebuild it again.

Several comments by a number of Twins’ executives have more than hinted that Brian Duensing is headed back to the bullpen after pitching almost exclusively as a starter in 2011.

Duensing’s record as a reliever is excellent. He would certainly be an upgrade over most of what passed for relievers last year. Assuming the rotation will not include him, I expect he will serve as a one to two inning guy, mostly 6th and 7th inning.

If Ryan is able to sign an experienced closer as he has indicated would be his preference, Glen Perkins will again be the primary set-up man.

With those two left-handers, a couple of key spots in the seven man bullpen are set. Given all the talk from Ryan and also Ron Gardenhire, it might be safe to conclude that the 2012 closer is going to come from outside the organization. Matt Capps is apparently still an option, but I am hoping he will be signed by someone else, not the least so the Twins can get a draft pick as compensation.

There are not many internal candidates that give us Twins fans confidence for filling out the rest of the bullpen. I hope at least one or two experienced middle relief pitchers are picked up this off-season either through trade or free agency. With a projected rotation of pitchers who have a tendency not to get past the fifth or sixth inning very often, a fully reliable set of relievers is a necessity.

I would designate Anthony Swarzak as the long relief man who would occasionally make a spot start. Last year he demonstrated that he is reliable in that role.

If, heaven forbid, no moves are made to bring in other relievers, it may be time to try some younger players. I don’t have much confidence in Jose Mijares, so would consider him trade material unless he comes to training camp in the best physical condition of his life.

Maybe Kyle Waldrop’s time has come after making a good impression last September, but as I said in an earlier post, I expect he will be at Rochester at least to start the new year.

I could list some of the players that were shuttled in and out last year, but my hope is we see none of them for any length of time. Let the rebuilding begin in earnest.

Best case scenario is some action this coming week at the winter meetings.


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