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Blue Jays interested in Twins starter Kevin Slowey

Mar 9, 2011, 10:18 AM EDT

Twins pitcher Slowey throws against Tigers during their MLB game in Minneapolis

Minnesota has six starters for five rotation spots and Kevin Slowey looks likely to be the odd man out, with Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting that the Blue Jays “had three scouts watching” his start yesterday.

According to Christensen the Blue Jays “like Slowey and have relievers to spare,” which makes them a good fit as a trade partner after the Twins lost half their bullpen to free agency this offseason in Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch, and Ron Mahay.

Slowey is making $2.7 million this season and is under team control for two more seasons, so the wisdom of dealing him for bullpen help is certainly questionable. He’s never thrown more than 160 innings in a season and struggled with arm problems last year, but Slowey has a 4.41 ERA in 473 career innings through age 26 and his minuscule walk rate of 1.50 per nine innings ranks second in baseball since his debut in 2007, sandwiched in between Roy Halladay (1.42) and Cliff Lee (1.54)

No word yet on which relievers the Twins are targeting from the Blue Jays’ well-stocked bullpen, but they were linked to Jason Frasor at various points last season.

  1. okobojicat - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Another example of GM Bill Smith trying to solve a non-existent problem. Stick Blackburn, who was extremely ineffective last year in the bullpen until someone gets hurt.

    The Hardy trade just shows that Smith thinks Activity = Good and does not necessarily make good trades. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous Matt Capps trade. Worthless. And picking up Capps option instead of bringing any of the three reliever who left for less money (yearly wise, I know, more money over more years) would’ve been so much better as they have been more effective over more years.

    The weird thing is, I absolutely love the Nishi signing. Its brilliant, if Hardy is still at SS. You can bet by June, there willl be rumors of the Twins scouting SS to trade for. Hello Bartlet!

    • trevorb06 - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:47 AM

      You lost me at Bartlett. I don’t think Casilla will do bad at SS. Really, offense wise SS is a thin position and I’m sure Casilla will bat above the SS average.

      But yes, dumb as hell to trade a pitcher when we could put Baker or Blackburn into the pen. The Capps trade was 5 shades of stupidity, too. When I heard we were shopping Ramos I thought that was stupid, he’d be a better back up than Butera. I at least thought we’d get a much better haul for him though.

      I don’t understand the Hardy trade either, great glove at SS and a decent bat? Really, who doesn’t want that on their team?

      • okobojicat - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:59 AM

        I think Bartlett will probably be the best SS on the market, so he’ll be in the rumors to come back to Minnesota. I don’t think Casillia has anywhere near the glove to play SS and I think Gardenhire will start freaking out come May. Plouffe and Tolbert (who also can’t play SS) will get many more at bats then they should.

      • ThatGuy - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        I think your wrong on Bartlett even have a chance at coming back, Gardy didn’t like his demeaner so they shipped him off. Gardy is a stubborn S.O.B.

    • buddygrant - Mar 9, 2011 at 3:10 PM

      As another poster hinted at, the Twins have made up their minds about Bartlett when they used him as a Devil Rays value-add in the Delmon Young trade. There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Twins way!

  2. proudlycanadian - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    This story is a bit misleading. The Jays have better depth at starting pitching than the Twins. They do not need Slowey. The Jays do have extra pitchers and might be looking at outfielders who can play CF.

  3. emossome84 - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    F. Liriano>R. Romero
    C. Pavano>B. Morrow
    B. Duensing>B. Cecil
    N. Blackburn=K. Drabek
    S. Baker>J. Litsch

    That leaves Slowey who is argueably better than the Jays 4th or 5th options not to mention the Twins top prospect Gibson who will almost assuredly make his pro debut this season as a call up. I don’t see how you could make a case for the Jays having more depth. Unless by depth you mean they have a number of guys who can’t start in an already weak rotation. Slowey doesn’t bring a lot of flash but he doesn’t walk anyone and if he actually stayed healthy for a whole season he’d be an awesome inning eater as a 4th or 5th option. Certainly better than what the jays have now.

    • smcalear - Mar 9, 2011 at 1:04 PM

      I would have to disagree on Duensing over Cecil. Duensing had great numbers last year but is still fairly new to starting (only 22 starts over two years). Factor that along with Cecil looking like a solid 200+ inning guy this year and who is 3 years Duensing’s junior. Both this year and long term, I’m taking Cecil.

      I’ll give you the other three, but to see Blackburn=Drabek just kind of hurts my eyes. The kid is young, but has a much, much higher ceiling than Nickie and his 2011 5.40 ERA. Even if Blackburn bounces back, Drabek has the potential to be many tiers above him this year and well into the future.

      Slowey would be a perfect fit to keep fat Jesse Litch out of the rotation. Twins would be dumb to give him up for relievers when 3/5 of their rotation are far from sure-things. Although this mixed with the Liriano rumors show they may not be thinking along the same lines as the rest of us…

      • Reflex - Mar 9, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        As with Strasberg, Drabek is using the Inverted W. He’s not long for this world as a result. If the Jays don’t fix it, and soon, he’ll be injury prone.

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 9, 2011 at 3:47 PM

      The Jays were pitching in the AL East. The Twins were not. As far as Cecil is concerned he stared the season in the minors and had a record of 15 and 7 in 28 starts. 15 of his starts were against the AL East. Against the Yankees he was 4 & 0 with 1 no decision. Against Boston, he was 2 & 1. Against Tampa Bay he was 3 & 1 with a no decision. Against Baltimore, he was 2 and 0. Toronto’s #3 starter was dominant against the AL East.How did the pitchers for the Twins do against the AL East?

    • Mark - Mar 9, 2011 at 6:27 PM

      Pavano isn’t better than Morrow. Especially when you figure that since Morrow dropped his arm slot (ie since May 31st) he’s got a 10.56 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 3.36 ERA and a 671 Opponents OPS. His WAR was higher despite the lack of innings, and when he pushes 170-180 this year it won’t be a contest that he’s better than Pavano. I’d be willing to say that the difference between Liriano/Romero is made up for by the difference between Morrow/Pavano, and I’d probably lean toward taking the Jays duo. This is also assuming Liriano stays healthy, which is no sure thing. That’s more a slam against Morrow/Pavano, as I love Liriano.

      Duensing is at best equal to Cecil, especially when you figure that he (Duensing) spent a fair amount of time in the pen. A lot easier coming out there in short stints.

      Baker’s better than Litsch, but I’d rather see Rzep get the fifth spot. His ratios are identical in 09/10 and yet his performance is all over the place. If he splits the difference that’d be fine with me. I’d rather bet on his upside (8K/9, 50%GB rate) than flip something for Slowey. His K:BB is nice but he’d get torched in the Rogers Centre with that brutal HR rate. I wouldn’t call him “certainly” better than anybody in the Jays rotation outside of Litsch, who’s probably their 6th or 7th best SP.

      As far as that “already weak rotation” you mentioned, the Twins SP ERA was nearly identical to the Jays last year. Sorry, but I’d pass on Slowey and I’d bet on the Jays rotation being better than the Twins this year.

    • fenderf65 - Mar 9, 2011 at 10:14 PM

      If Liriano can stay healthy for more than a day and half, he may be better than Romero – but Romero is a horse and is just starting to find himself as a pitcher. Duensing over Cecil – why? Last year Cecil showed an ability to win games – 15 to Duensing’s 10 and also to carry a heavier workload – he logged 179 innings while Duensing managed 130. Duensing had a nicer era but that doesn’t make him a better pitcher. Scott baker over Jessie Litsch – maybe – but at best I would call it a toss up as the last time Litsch pitched healthy (before surgery in 2008) he was the top pitcher on the team – better than Doc. He really hasn’t pitched in 18 months but is looking like that same Litsch again this spring. Blackburn and Drabek – I’m not prepared to anoint Drabek into that role yet – I think Rzep should have that slot to lose (and he is still a better pitcher than Slowey) but I don’t make those decisions. You can’t be serious about Pavano over Morrow – good grief which pitcher has more upside here – truly there is no contest – the only reason Pavano was successful last year was that he got out of the American league east.Do you recall is time in N.Y. Which brings me to my last point – the entire Blue Jay staff makes their living in the A.L. east and not the central where you are able to pad your stats.

  4. ThatGuy - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Dumb. You stick the loser of of the Spring Training competition for 4th and 5th rotation spots in long relief, until the winners of the competition become ineffective or injured which they invariably will. If Gibson is ready by midseason as expected, than you shop one of the three. Having 6 starting pitchers is a good thing, not a bad thing.

  5. cur68 - Mar 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    I agree with the assessment that the Twins should keep this guy BUT as a Jays fan (I have no choice; the Expos are no more, alas) I must say; we could really use Slowey. He’s a better pitcher than Lidge or Cecil. It is NEVER a mistake to have a guy like Slowey in your rotation. Matched up against the right team (lots of young, inexperienced hitters) he’s dynamite.

  6. dluxxx - Mar 9, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    I’m hoping that we would get something better than a relief pitcher for one of our starters (like a middle infield prospect or something). I think they should roll with what they have for the beginning of the year. Ideally we would have Dunsing in the pen (yeah, I said it) to keep our best starters making the most starts. However, that isn’t an option as Gardy already announced that he and Blackburn (maybe the worst of the Twins starters) are in the rotation with Liriano and Pavano.

    Although I think he is a better pitcher, I’d say put Baker in the BP. He has better stuff, can miss bats, and it wouldn’t hurt to limit his innings early this year as he had some off-season work done on his elbow. Somebody is going to get hurt or be ineffective – I’m guessing it’s Dunsing who will come back to earth due to some unsustainable numbers – and Baker will be ready to be stretched out.

    The real question is, what do they do with Gibson when he comes knocking in mid-season? I hate to say it, but the Carl Pavano signing just doesn’t make sense with the amount of MLB caliber starting pitching the Twins have. And the Blackburn deal was just plain stupidity. Now there’s rumors about dealing Liriano (best pitcher) and Slowey? The regular season needs to start soon, I’m going nuts thinking about this stuff.

  7. emossome84 - Mar 11, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Yikes got the Jays fans all worked up;) We’ll see what happens this year but as the Twins have shown for the last decade either through trades or their farm system they always find guys to go out and pitch well. At least now I have a reason to pay more attention to the Jays other than to see if Bautista hit another homer or not. At least they made the right move in naming Romero their ace, but what there really any question there? And go ahead and knock Pavano if you want, but the guy did throw 7 complete games, more than the Jays staff threw combined. My final thoughts on this are that if the Jays really do indeed have better starting pitching than the Twins and continue to lead the league in homeruns by a million, there really isn’t an excuse not to be a playoff teams regardless of division. Hopefully for you Jays fans your pitchers back up your talk.

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