Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Slowey Saga

It would appear that Kevin Slowey's days in Minnesota are numbered.

We can glean from the article linked above that the right-hander has asked for a trade. It hardly comes as a surprise; Slowey has sulked all season about his role in the bullpen, and there are no rotation vacancies on the visible horizon.

Clearly, the Twins are fed up with the Slowey. He has rarely been available this season, overcome by a variety of ailments relating to the transition from starter to reliever. His act comes off as pouty and self-centered, leading to widespread criticism. Jim Souhan labeled him a "selfish, excuse-making malcontent" and the Twins broadcasters ripped him at length during Monday night's telecast.

Then again, Slowey also can't be blamed for wanting out. His behavior might seem selfish, but frankly it's not hard to understand what's brought him to this point. There has long been friction between player and organization.

I've repeatedly had reporters covering the team tell me that, like others who have been dealt away before him, Slowey's personality doesn't seem to mesh with the Twins' expectations. The team has done little to hide its lack of affinity.

While he had his inconsistencies last year in his return from a fairly significant wrist surgery, the righty still won 13 games and posted a 4.48 ERA. Yet, he was a healthy scratch from the Twins' playoff roster. I figured that was the last straw, predicting that he'd be traded during the offseason.

Turns out I jumped the gun. The Twins signed Carl Pavano for $16 million over the winter despite having five starters, and naturally Slowey was the odd man out despite posting a 1.69 ERA in spring training that was the best of any rotation candidate. And, even though they seemingly had their minds made up from the beginning, the Twins still conditioned Slowey as a starter right up until the end of March, then basically said, "Nice job starting the last few years, but we like some other guys better, now go and be a setup man because we let all the other ones walk during the offseason so we could sign your replacement."

At age 27 and now a full year removed from surgery, Slowey was looking to re-establish himself as a quality MLB starter this season. Instead, he's battling through injuries to try and throw long relief for baseball's worst club, and watching his earning potential plummet in the meantime.

Is Slowey putting himself before the team? Yes, but then again, it's a really bad team and an organization that hasn't exactly shown much fondness toward him.

He's a good pitcher who had an unfortunate wrist injury and never got his fair shake here. Assuming he's on his way out, I wish Slowey the best wherever he ends up. All I can do now is hope like hell that the Twins aren't shooting themselves in the foot by being forced to sell so low on him.


Anonymous said...

You know I thought I would see Perkins gone off this team before Slowey. Because of Perkins past issues with the team. I wonder what we will get for Slowey?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your reasonable remarks about Slowey. He has been treated unfairly despite his talents, and he probably belonged in the starting rotation to begin with. Of all things, he is most often accused of being "too intelligent" by the local media, as though that's a bad thing.

Your blog, by the way, is one of the best in the business, and I have been following it since its "Nick & Nick" days.

Keep up the good work!


Matthew said...

It was asinine they left him off last years playoff roster. It was expected (painfully so) that he started the year in the pen. Why can't Slowey take Duensing's spot in the rotation if he flusters again tomorrow? Duensing has been solid in relief in the past and could be called on to pitch more than one inning. It irks me that the Twins FO chooses to play these childish games when the team's morale is hovering above rock bottom.

Anonymous said...

One of the more honest and straightforward posts on the situation without the slander. It's much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I was saying all off season I preferred Slowey over Pavano given the price and the insurance of Gibson. Slowey also injured his way out of his job and not earned the demotion. That's tough to swallow and I don't care how much money you make.


Anonymous said...

Excellent summary. It's really a shame that it has come to this. Although it seems much of the blame lies with Slowey, I can't help but wonder if the Twins could have handled things differently. I understand that they need "team players" but I hate to see one person getting ganged up on.

Besides the recent friction, does anyone know specifically what has caused problems between Slowey and the Twins in the past?

I never post, but thanks for the great content, Nick.

Anonymous said...

This is the problem with the Twins right now. It seams the past few years they have been letting their feeling and emotions lead the team instead of their heads. Why not keep Slowey and try to use Pavano as trade bait later in the season when people are looking for veteran starters. Some of the things the Twins organization have done make me scratch my head and wonder what are they thinking?

David said...

"All I can do now is hope like hell that the Twins aren't shooting themselves in the foot by being forced to sell so low on him."

What would make you think they might do something so stupid?

cy1time said...

The strange thing is, Slowey is exactly out of the mold that the Twins seem to covet, moving it in and out, changing speed, pitching to contact. Send him down, let him start, maybe he can rebuild his trade value at least back to where it was coming out of Spring Training. He had to have had some value, then.

Maybe he has been sulking about the role, or maybe his arm just hasn't adjusted to coming out of the bullpen. Regardless, the Twins aren't doing themselves any favors ripping on him. How is that going to help his trade value? It reminds me a little of Fred Wilpon's comments on Reyes, Beltran, and Wright.

Ed Bast said...

Yet another situation the Twins front office has horribly mismanaged. Yes, it's pathetic that Slowey is refusing to go in games and being such a baby about it. The Twins have made it abundantly clear they're desperate to get rid of him. Let the lowball bids roll in. If we got 2 terrible relievers for an above average shortstop who was the last guy we desperately wanted to get rid of, I shudder to think of the return we'll get on Slowey. I'm guessing a low-A reliever.

This "Twins Way" thing has quickly devolved from cute marketing strategy to mere lipservice to outright hubris.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty obvious why they started him during spring training. They were trying to pump up his trade value, but they apparently didn't get an offer they liked.

I'd actually be surprised if they moved him during the year. I just think they'll let him rot in Rochester by starting the rest of the year, then trade him during the offseason. Either way, they shouldn't necessarily be in a hurry to trade him.

VodkaDave said...

Stop making excuses for his childish act. Slowey is nothing special to begin with and never was going to fetch some awesome return at his peak.

I can honestly say I hope his career goes the way of the real deal JD Durbin. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out KSlow.

Ed Bast said...


What's more childish: a) refusing to change positions mid-career to help the team, or b) employing television and newspaper bobos for some character assasination (since you don't have the courage to do it yourself) even though it will diminish a guy's trade value, just to make him look bad?

Both childish. But if you choose a), Joe Mauer is a 2-year old compared to Slowey, and for the sake of consistency I assume you are suggesting we show him the door as well.

VodkaDave said...


That might be the dumbest thing I have read on the internet in my entire life.

I am so shocked by it, that I can't even come up with a response to your brutally stupid statement. May God have mercy on your soul.

Josh said...

Meh, Slowey is a mediocre pitcher at best. He tops out as a 4th starter at best, and the inability to stay healthy hurts his value. His major inability to pitch deep into games also pushes him further down on the depth charts.

I'm not sure how asinine it was to leave him off the playoff roster, especially since we've seen this year that he seems poorly suited to a relief role...though maybe that's more out of attitude than aptitude? Pavano & Liriano were locks, Duensing was hot down the stretch and gave them another LH against the Yankees, and Blackburn had come back strong after his stint in the minors...was it so obvious that Slowey needed to stay? Nope.

He's just not that great of a pitcher, despite respectable peripherals. When you can't consistently get out of the 5th inning as a starting MLB pitcher, it really doesn't matter how good the BB/K numbers are, or the WHIP, or the're no better than a 5th starter, because the team can't tax its bullpen that much to bail you out.

The other stuff? That's what makes it easy for the team to dump you and not worry about problems in the clubhouse. If Slowey were staying healthy and pitching into the 7th, people would keep this under wraps. When you're not performing or getting hurt and still bitching and causing problems, people stop covering for you.

He's probably not a bad guy, and he's not a terrible pitcher...but he's not that great either. And he's probably not worth the $2.7M he's getting paid. The bigger problem is whether or not we can get anything worth while for him. Hopefully someone will look at the peripheral stats and decide they can get him deep in games and will be willing to give up something the Twins need.

CA said...

It's starting to get to a point where a decent team could be built out of players the Bill Smith-led FO has or will soon trade away. Garza, Bartlett, Slowey, Ramos, Morales, Gomez, Hardy...all up the middle talent. And in return the team has essentially gotten Delmon Young and mediocre-to-okay relief pitching. I wish I could be confident about getting a decent return for Slowey, but given the organization's recent history in trades and the way it has helped to reduce Slowey's trade value to a nadir, I'm not very optimistic.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I've always found the tact they take with players they have an issue with, specifically the ones they'd like to trade. We hear rumors the twins are willing to trade liriano and right away we get a flood of reports about his poor work ethic and the teams large injury concerns.

Im tired of the twins and how they do business. Its always been a popularity contest with ron gardenhire. The organization has been driven by misguided methodology for years and been successful because of the terrible division they play in and a small core of exceptional players. Kevin slowey was their 3rd best starting option in spring training, hes their 3rd best option right now. The twins minor leagues arent particularly loaded with starting pitching prospects. I hope this avoidable spat with slowey really burns them.

Anonymous said...

Great post Nick!! Insightful and a fair presentation of both sides of this unfortunate situation.

Hopefully both sides can move on and learn from this.

Ed Bast said...


All name-calling aside, please explain your position. You called Slowey childish for not accepting a bullpen role and should be shown the door. I replied that by this logic, Mauer is childish for not accepting a DH role now or an position switch later, and should be shown the door. Both players are acting the same way; should they not suffer the same harsh judgements?

So, please explain. Are you calling your own statement brutally stupid in hindsight?

VodkaDave said...

The Twins haven't asked Mauer to change positions and you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

It's ok though, there is a place for folks like you. Its called rubechat and it's ----------------------------> that way.

Ed Bast said...


If someone on the Twins hasn't asked Joe if he could come back and DH, in an effort to help out the worst offensive team in baseball, then the culture of enabling and coddling within the organization is even worse than I thought.

But the Twins shouldn't have to ask. Should they have to ask their $23 mil leader to play the game he is paid to play? Should they have to ask him to do his job?

So Joe, whaddaya say? How about DHing a little before you get back to catching?

"I'm a catcher. That's what I signed to do. I think I can help this team the most as a catcher."

VodkaDave said...

--------------------Rubechat next stop------------------------------------------>

Anonymous said...

vodka dave got into the vodka a little early today

M-Dawg said...

What is rubchat and where is it to the right, I dont see it?

MN said...

As long as the Twins don't have a ring, they don't have a lot of room to talk about proper expectations.

It's like a pale echo of the Garza situation.