To ‘Stache Or Not To ‘Stache: The Carl Pavano Issue

I’ve noticed something curious about the various “predictions” concerning the Twins offseason roster decisions. There’s a real disconnect somewhere on the topic of what the Twins should do about Carl Pavano.

When I posted my proposed “Twins blueprint” for 2011, the ‘Stache was not among the starting pitchers I projected for the Twins. Instead, I proposed trading for the Royals’ Zack Greinke and in that scenario, Greinke’s salary would almost certainly preclude the Twins from being able to afford to also bring back Pavano.

But among the various “blueprints” posted by the Twins bloggers I’ve read, I’m certainly not the only one who has proposed letting Pavano take his talents elsewhere. I probably haven’t read all of the blogs that have posted “blueprints” in response to the Twinscentric guys’ suggestion, but I can think of at least 10 I’ve read through just off the top of my head and, of those, only one proposed re-signing Pavano. In fact, for most of us, it seems the question most often discussed is whether the Twins should offer Pavano arbitration or not. He’s a Type A free agent, meaning if the Twins offer him arbitration and he rejects it, the Twins stand to get two high compensatory draft picks in return.

That’s a fair topic for debate that reasonable minds can agree to disagree on. If the Twins don’t offer arbitration, they get nothing for Pavano if he signs elsewhere. If they do offer arbitration, he MAY decide to accept the offer, leaving the Twins locked in to paying him possibly somewhere close to $10 million for 2011 and significantly limiting the front office’s other offseason options.

But that’s not the “disconnect” I’m talking about. Almost all of us seem to agree that we’ve seen the last days of ‘Stache as a Twin. Almost uniformly, we agree that the Twins have upgrade needs and there simply isn’t room for the upgrades we want to see while also retaining Pavano for the price he’s earned the right to command on the open market.

And yet…

Has anyone else noticed that the predominant “outside” opinion about where Carl Pavano will be pitching next season seems to be that he’s going to remain a Twin?

I can’t say I religiously check all of the national online writers, but I do check in on si.com pretty much every day (probably because I go to cnn.com for my daily news fix). Both Jon Heyman and Ben Reiter at si.com think the Twins will/should re-sign Pavano. In addition, Tim Dierkes over at MLBTradeRumors.com feels the same way. In fact, three out of the five MLBTR writers are on board with ‘Stache staying a Twin. 

That’s got me asking myself, “Are we missing something here?”

On the surface, reports that the Twins made a competitive posting bid for the rights to Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma would seem to indicate that the Twins certainly aren’t counting on Pavano returning. But having been unsuccessful with that bid, would Bill Smith re-think the situation?

I’m not backing off from my stated desire to land Greinke, but based on what we’re starting to hear about Kansas City’s trade demands*, I’m beginning to accept that there’s not likely going to be a deal made to get Zack in a Twins uniform during the offseason. My best hope might be that nobody meets the Royals’ price and that perhaps once KC is realistically eliminated from the AL Central race next season (that should be what… mid May?), their front office becomes a bit more anxious to relieve themselves of Greinke’s contract.

But if Greinke isn’t an option, then I think perhaps the Twins do need to think harder about keeping Pavano around. I just don’t see a lot of opportunities for significant upgrades out there and if you can’t improve the top of your rotation, at least you’d better make sure you keep what you’ve got.

If the Twins offer arbitration, I really don’t see Pavano and his agent accepting it as they did last season. The free agent market for starting pitchers, after Cliff Lee, is pretty thin. Pavano will get two-year offers and perhaps the Twins should be one of the teams willing to go that route. I suppose it’s possible that some team may be desperate enough to offer three guaranteed years, but if it also means they cough up a draft choice? I’m not so sure.

Keeping ‘Stache around likely means starting the season with a rotation of Liriano, Pavano, Baker, Duensing and Blackburn/Slowey.  If Kyle Gibson is everything people seem to think he’s going to be, maybe by mid-year he’ll be wowing us all the same way Liriano and Santana did once they finally forced their ways in to the rotation.

If not, I’m sure Bill Smith still will have the Royals’ phone number… they aren’t going anywhere. – JC

*This from ESPN’s Jayson Stark regarding the Royals’ demands for Greinke:

…according to clubs that have spoken with them, they’re telling bidders up front that (A) they would need to “win” the deal, (B) they would have to get the kind of four-for-one haul the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira to pull the trigger, (C) they need a bunch of “front-line, winning, quality players” in return, and (D) at least one of those players has to be a pitcher capable of turning into the next Zack Greinke in a couple of years.

7 thoughts on “To ‘Stache Or Not To ‘Stache: The Carl Pavano Issue

  1. Well, I noticed. :) I think it’s a good idea because it appears to have been a good fit for both. When I said that a couple blogs ago I believe you said it was “unrealistic”. ;)

    FWIW I certainly don’t see the Twin’s giving “several frontline players” up to a team in the Central. If, and that’s a big if in my book, there is a play for Greinke from the Twin’s it would have to involve a third team.

  2. hmmmm… I didn’t think I’d said anything you proposed was “unrealistic”, jamar, but my memory isn’t what it used to be so I went back and checked.

    When you opined about Pavano and the Twins being a good fit, my response was:

    “I think they’ll offer Pavano arbitration, but I doubt he’ll take it. The Twins can afford to pay him what he’ll demand, but I think he’ll command 2-3 guaranteed years and if they’re going to pay someone over 10 mil for a couple of years, I’d rather it be someone younger (Greinke, de la Rosa). If Pavano is kept, it means there is no change in the rotation this year… and I think it needs improvement.”

    I think I still stand by that. I think they’ll offer arbitration. I think he’ll turn it down. I believe the Twins can afford to pay him what he wants, but the number of years would be an issue. I’d still rather pay Greinke or de la Rosa $10 mil+ a year for multiple years than Pavano and I still think the rotation needs improvement.

    But like I said in the post above, if you can’t GET that improvement, maybe you’d better try harder to keep what you have.

    Yanno, now that I think about it though, I MAY HAVE written that something you suggested was unrealistic… that whole sports-star-beanie-baby idea still sounds pretty iffy to me! :)

    Oh… and I agree that as long as KC is demanding other teams be absolutely stupid about giving up multiple top tier players for Greinke, there’s no way the Twins should oblige and be that stupid, especially to another team in their division (even if it is the Royals).

  3. Okay maybe it WAS the whole “nice guys” discussion :) Anywho, it’s okay, I am, just not anymore than anyone else.

  4. So the Twins shouldn’t oblige the Royals and give multiple top prospects / young players to a team within the division, huh? Yet the Royals SHOULD oblige the Twins and give their top tier Cy Young Award winner to a team within the divison for something less?

    Somehow I think the Royals have something to say about the whole matter.

    BTW, the Royals aren’t “anxious” to rid themselves of Greinke’s contract. ..after all, Jose Guillen and his $12 milion per year are now off the books.) Not to mention Kyle Farnsworth and his $4.5 million. And David DeJesus and his $6 million. And Rick Ankiel and his $2.75 million.

  5. Eh. I think we are all saying essentially the same thing. Knowing the way the Twins do business, it probably isn’t going to happen. Not that way. Plus, from everything I’ve read, I don’t get the impression that “top tier players” means “prospects” I think they want veterans, and not the “iffy” ones … ifyouknowwhatimeanandithinkyoudo ;)

  6. I don’t believe I said the Royals are currently “anxious” to deal Greinke. They certainly aren’t. What I said is that, perhaps when they’re eliminated in 2011, they will become more anxious to unload that contract. It doesn’t matter how many veterans they’ve unloaded, when you have no more revenue than what the Royals do, paying one player $13.5 million in 2011 and again in 2012 is a lot of money (especially for a player that only plays every 5th game and thus doesn’t account for significant daily ticket sales). The Royals certainly have no plans on seriously contending in that time. The odds of Greinke still being a Royal when the 2012 season rolls around are very small. I don’t think it’s a matter of whether he’ll be traded, but when… and to whom.

    I also think the whole “trading within your division” thing is less of an issue than most people think. All things being equal, you might prefer not to trade within your division, but the idea is to strengthen your team. The Twins are contenders now and could use a top starting pitcher. They can’t worry about whether some kids they trade to KC might actually improve the Royals. They just have to be concerned about whether trading those players away weakens themselves, now and/or in the future, more than adding Greinke improves them. Likewise, if the Royals can get the kind of talent they think they need to be able to contend in the division sooner by trading an expensive pitcher they can’t afford right now to a division rival, they’d do it.

  7. I think part of the reason the ‘Pavano is gone’ thing floats around with Twins fan is because for my entire lifetime of Twins fandom (since 1987!) its pretty much the way the Twins do things. Bring in a guy cheap, let him go when he gets expensive no matter how good he is. Its just bred into us, I think