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Discarded by the Twins, Vance Worley has turned his career around with the Pirates

Jul 29, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

Vance Worley AP

Two offseasons ago the Twins acquired Vance Worley from the Phillies as part of the trade for Ben Revere. At the time Worley was 25 years old with a 3.50 ERA in 278 career innings and looked capable of being a solid, cheap middle-of-the-rotation starter for several seasons.

He started on Opening Day for Minnesota, but was disastrous with a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts before getting demoted to the minors. Worley was so bad that the Twins removed him from the 40-man roster after the season and he passed through waivers unclaimed by the other 29 teams.

At that point the Twins could have simply assigned Worley to Triple-A, but instead they decided to cut bait completely and sold him to the Pirates for a little cash. It was a total give-away move and there was no real reason for it other than the Twins wanting to wash their hands of the entire situation.

Last night Worley tossed a complete-game shutout against the Giants, improving to 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 50 innings for the Pirates. At age 26 he once again looks capable of being a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter thanks to Pittsburgh getting him healthy, giving him some coaching on his mechanics, showing a little patience, and basically doing what Minnesota wouldn’t or couldn’t. And that’s become a familiar story for Twins fans.

  1. timberwolvesbrisin - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    A shutout? they scored.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Pirates 5, Giants 0. Basic math says they did not score.

      • ejheim62 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        it was an invisible run. you can’t ever see those.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        Those invisible runs really sneak up on you

    • tmc602014 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      I think Timber sped-read “improved to 4-1″ and thought that was the score

  2. samgod13 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Is this the biggest indictment yet of Twins coaching?

    • moogro - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Not the biggest, but one of many. Even accounting for the common change of scene improvement factor.

    • pwshrugged - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      I was shocked when Gardenhire returned this year, given that the team has played with almost no motivation for him the past couple years.

      I was utterly stunned when Gardenhire retained the pitching staff, given that the pitching has been terrible, and the staff is routinely bungling players. Free agents come to the team and pitch worse than they did for their previous team, despite Target Field usually being a better pitcher’s park for them. Sure, you can argue the NL-to-AL angle, but I think it only plays so far – this sort of regression among Twins’ free agent pitchers is too common.

      Only Correia seems to have managed to withstand, but I’m not sure how much of a victory it is for your pitching staff to tout that your #5 starter still pitches like a #5 starter.

      Even more concerning is how sloppily they’ve handled Kyle Gibson, with several promotions/demotions over the past couple years. Now that he’s steady in the bigs, he’s performing like every other Twins pitcher – looking like a borderline 4/5 starter with a 4.00 ERA and occasional flashes. Given how highly rated he was a couple years ago and how well he did at Triple-A, it’s just another indication to me that the big league pitching staff isn’t getting their job done.

      Makes you hope they do some housecleaning before they let Alex Meyer make his debut.

    • musicman1434 - Jul 30, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      It’s another log on the fire. Anderson has zero ability to coach pitchers and has a job strictly because of his friendship with Gardenhire. It is this good old boy network and the lack of accountability that is destroying this franchise.

  3. Uncle Charlie - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Defensive alignment be you angels?
    Nay, we are but men.

  4. penguins87and71 - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Ray Searage is probably the most underrated pitching coach in the MLB. This isn’t the first pitcher that his turned around. He turned around Burnett, Liriano, Volquez, Grilli, Melancon, Morton, and Worley. This guy is amazing with pitchers. I’m surprised that no MLB club hasn’t offered him a managerial job, because he certainly deserves it.

    • paperlions - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Completely agree. The guy has been magical. Whatever he is doing, the guys he brings in seem to improve their control and command. Martin is probably a big help as well…as guys are mixing their pitches, changing speeds and locations.

      Not sure why you’d want to move him to a managerial role, it is often best to stay with your strength.

      • penguins87and71 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:04 AM

        No I hope he doesn’t leave the Pirates, his great at what he does. It just wouldn’t surprise me if another Major league team gave give him a shot at a managerial role. If that happened he would be crazy not to take it.

    • danaking - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:42 AM

      Searage is becoming the Leo Mazzone of the 20-teens.

  5. dluxxx - Jul 29, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    I’m hoping for a shakeup in the Twins organization this fall. I see this as Gardy’s last year with the team, and hopefully Terry Ryan follows him into retirement. There have been way too many of these stories in the last 10-15 years for this to be anything other than a systemic failure. Somewhere along the way, we are either not correctly evaluating talent and getting the most out of it, or we are suppressing talent to get people to buy into the “Twins Way” of playing (i.e. David Ortiz being asked to stop pulling the ball).

    I guess for every failure there’s a bright spot (Phil Hughes) but it seems like players just don’t live up to expectations here and have good careers elsewhere. You don’t often hear about players doing well with the Twins and then stinking up the joint elsewhere (unless it’s natural decline related).

    • tved12 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      More like for every 15 failures there’s a bright spot…

      Rick Anderson has thrown away way too much talent. I would prefer this coaching staff be gone before we bring up any of our prospects for him to ruin.

    • pwshrugged - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      They just re-hired Gardenhire this past offseason, and this season has been no different than the last two or three. They had a chance to part ways amicably with him at no cost – you really think the Pohlads are going to fire Gardy and pay two managers next year?

      The best you can hope for is that the pitching staff gets shook up, but that seems unlikely, too, since again, Gardenhire and ownership had the chance to do that last offseason, again at no cost.

  6. anthonyverna - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    And, yet, Ben Revere still stinks.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    Yes, but they extended Mike Pelfrey, so Twins fans have that to hang their hats on.

  8. luvmnsports2012 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Twins…lol….what a joke of a team. And this is coming from a fan who watches every game! Every coach needs to go, there all terrible!

  9. wadeoliver - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    How much of this has to do with the American League being superior to the National League? It seems that players coming over from the NL (Ricky Nolasco, Jason Marquis, RA Dickey) struggle in the AL while players going the opposite route find greater success.

    • bkunza - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      Exactly, the National league is the burial grounds for washed up pitchers.

  10. hoopmatch - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Wouldn’t it be funny if the Twins fired Gardenhire and brought in Searage to replace him?

  11. byjiminy - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Why not offer Searage a million dollars a year to join the Twins as a pitching coach? That’s a fraction of the salary of one of the pitchers he’s turned around. He’s added millions of dollars of value to Worley alone.

    Sure there were no doubt other factors, no guarantees, etc. Like when you hire a pitcher. It’s never a sure thing what you’ll get. But if he was the deciding factor on improving even one of the guys on that long list, he brought millions of dollars of value to the Pirates. More value than a manager can. How much was the guy who taught Johan Santana a changeup worth?

    Coaching (and analytics) could be the next undervalued commodity in baseball. I wouldn’t be surprised if the price of successful pitching coaches went up soon. If you’re investing tens of millions in pitchers, you should invest whatever it takes in supporting and training them.

    This goes for smart medical care too of course. If I owned a team I’d buy an MRI. How many times do you see that a guy played sore for a while, something snapped, and they did an MRI and found a ligament tear. How but an MRI at the first sign of soreness, to see if there’s any minor damage that might be made worse by continued use?

  12. gmfw7 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    i was disgusted when we gave him and our number 1 pitching prospect (trevor may) away for revere and am even more so after seeing how bad revere is in every aspect of baseball other than making contact. a number one prospect and starter with a 3.5 ERA usually gets you more than a back up outfielder, but let’s not get started with how bad ruben amaro is at life. it’s awesome that worley has things turned around right now, but the hard truth is it won’t last unless the pirates have helped him figure out how to throw a breaking ball with some serious bite. the bottom line is you can’t be very good for too long when you throw in the very low 90s and have no secondary pitches other than an average changeup and below average curveball.

  13. West Madison's town Whore - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    I have argued that for years the twins have dove into the national league for pitchers with most times getting awful returns. What is really alarming and what should have sealed the fate of Gardy is his inability to develope players only to see them leave and flourish- Garza, Lohse, Gomez, Garret Jones, Dickey, Ayala, Breslow, Neshek, Liriano. They say wait for the future prospects but with this coaching staff they will be ruined

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