Friday, December 09, 2011

Twins Take Terry Doyle in Rule 5

By virtue of their horrible record this season, the Twins held the No. 2 pick in yesterday's Rule 5 draft. With a pitching staff that is very much in flux, especially after the departure of Kevin Slowey, this represented an opportunity for the club to add another arm to throw against the wall in 2012 and hope for the best.

The Twins did just that, selecting right-hander Terry Doyle from the White Sox. On the surface, Doyle owns an impressive minor-league resume; over four seasons, he's posted a 2.94 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 381-to-97 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 422 2/3 innings. He also excelled in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League this year, going 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 0.66 WHIP over eight starts.

Those are great numbers, but they lose much of their luster when you consider his age. Doyle pitched well enough in Double-A this season, going 7-5 with a 3.24 ERA after being promoted in May, but it was his first time reaching that level and he was 25. He turned 26 in early November and still hasn't sniffed Triple-A.

Doyle's gaudy 8.1 K/9 rate in the minors is misleading, since it is heavily weighted by his dominant efforts in the lower levels. His strikeout rate has dropped precipitously as he's climbed the minor-league ladder thanks to an arsenal that could hardly be described as dominant.

Kevin Goldstein, a prospect guru for Baseball Prospectus, offered the following assessment to White Sox blogger JJ Stankevitz earlier this offseason:
Big, big dude. Classic frame, but not much stuff. Upper 80s fastball that scrapes 90-92 at times, better pitch is a mid-80s cutter with some bite. Average curveball and change. He succeeds by hitting his spots and working low in the zone, but there are plenty of questions, and understandably so, about his ability to miss the bats of more advanced hitters. Perfect world is probably middle relief.
Remind you of anyone? Because, to me, it sounds an awful lot like Nick Blackburn. The two share plenty of commonalities, ranging from their size (both are 6-foot-4 and around 230 lbs) to their middling stuff to their late arrival in the majors.

The best-case scenario is that Doyle develops into a Blackburn type -- a pitch-to-contact righty who peppers the edges of the strike zone with cutters and keeps the ball on the ground. One thing he's consistently done a great job of is limiting home runs, as he's allowed just 27 in 422 career innings.

Sure, it would have been nice for the Twins to take a flier on someone with higher upside, especially since they may very well have the luxury of allowing that player take his lumps in a lost season (a la Johan Santana in 2000), but there aren't many guys with big arms that are remotely close to the majors sitting outside of 40-man rosters.

Doyle has a chance to be useful next year as a long reliever and swing man, and as things currently stand he'd only be nudging a player like Anthony Swarzak or Scott Diamond off the 25-man roster.


Michael Otis said...

Just have to hope that the Twins inner system can structure this man into something useful. As anyone who is familiar with our system, we like to build no-name players into assets.

TT said...

I wouldn't pay too much attention to Kevin Goldstein.

The recent reports on Doyle are that he has added velocity and was hitting the mid-90's on his fastball in the AFL. If you compare last year at high A ball to the previous year, what stands out is that he walked a lot fewer batters. And he carried that over into AA. Then his .62 WHIP in the AFL was the best in the league by a pretty good margin. He gave up only 12 hits in 27.1 innings.

What all that seems to add up to is a guy who has continued to improve despite his age. And with prospects, what you are looking for is improvement. He isn't going to be Johan Santana. But he could stick in the bullpen and become a serviceable starter down the line.

Ed Bast said...

This guy seems like he can step right in and be the type of crappy finesse pitcher the Twins love and the rest of the league loves to hit.

I'm sure he can replace the replaceable Slowey without missing a beat. Their rotation will continue to be one of the worst in baseball. Same old story.

However, I'm detecting a disturbing trend. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe these are the last 5 trades the Twins have made:

JJ Hardy for nobody
Jose Morales for nobody
Jim Thome for nobody
Delmon Young for nobody
Kevin Slowey for nobody

I think someone needs to educate the front office: you know it's okay to ask for return talent in trades, right?

Everyone still in love with Terry Ryan? Or is it becoming clear that maybe part of the problem is the tired organizational philosophy, as I've been saying for a long time now?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ed, maybe someone needs to educate the front office but it certainly shouldn't be you.

Yes they sold low on Delmon, Hardy and Slowey but no one was going to give them anything via trade trade for Thome when they could have waited until the offseason to sign (i.e. The Philadelphia Phillies) and no one in their right mind would give anything of value to get Jose Morales. You would have to be crazy to think otherwise....a marginal major league hitter with no power and even less skill behind the plate. Morales was no loss and the way Slowey and Thome have regressed they also have questionable value.

Blast the Twins for Hardy, Delmon and Ramos, be my guest, but getting on them for Thome and Morales is a bit silly.

And fyi the only trade that Terry Ryan made of the five you stated was Slowey and there is no way to judge that trade don't know if Slowey has anything left after getting hit with the injury bug in nearly every one of his major league seasons and you haven't seen anything from the player they traded for, just like you haven't seen what Doyle can do. There is also a major contradiction in your analysis. You are comparing Doyle to Slowey, saying that he will easily step in and 'replace the replaceable Slowey' then turn around and complain that the Twins didn't get anything for can't have it both ways.

There has been a substantial shift in organizational philosophy...ever since they've been in Target Field they've had a 100 million dollar payroll that is built on the success of Mauer and Morneau in the middle of their lineup, without those two performing this team will struggle. And if you are stubborn enough to believe that they are operating under the same old tired philosophy...that philosophy garnered them al central titles in both 2009 and 2010, a second place finish due to a game 163 in 2008 and another al central title in 2006. You may have to face the facts that you are a whiny moron who should find a new team to cheer for/whine about.

Ed Bast said...

"You may have to face the facts that you are a whiny moron who should find a new team to cheer for/whine about."

Thanks for the kind suggestion, but I'm good with the Twins! Just wish the club would occasionally get something other than a crappy single-A relief pitcher in a trade, that's all!

USAFChief said...

I wouldn't pay too much attention to Kevin Goldstein.

The recent reports on Doyle are that he has added velocity and was hitting the mid-90's on his fastball in the AFL.

We shouldn't pay much attention to Kevin Goldstein...but we should pay attention to TT?

Anonymous said...

Ed...what would your expectation for return on a Slowey trade? not only has the dude clearly lost something through injuries but he pouted his way through a season where he could easily have helped. He non-pitched his way out of town. At this point they were lucky to get anything for him, cutting ties with a malcontent isn't the worst idea on a team with a bevy of young players. Keep the Cuddyers let the Sloweys go.

Anonymous said...

Ed is kind of a whiny moron.

Ed Bast said...


I'm not sure you understand value when it comes to starting pitching, particularly young starting pitching....this is why folks like Bruce Chen will make more than Slowey this year, and Jeff Francis (6-16 last year with a 4.82 ERA) is going to get $7+ mil per year.

Slowey is not going to be a big loss. I just wish the Twins wouldn't help drive the value of their assets down so low, and also understand that minor league relief pitching is the most fungible position in baseball. They clearly don't understand player valuation (Hardy for 2 ML relievers? Capps for Ramos?)and that gets frustrating.

"Keep the Cuddyers let the Sloweys go."

Or how about this? Evaluate your roster based on talent and value, rather than personality and "likeability".

TT said...

Apparently no other team "understands player valuation" either, because I am sure the Twin would have traded Slowey for more if they could get it. And I am pretty sure they had been trying before they pulled the trigger on the deal with Colorado.

Ed Bast said...

"I am sure the Twin would have traded Slowey for more if they could get it."

Or, like I said, they overvalue relief pitching. My evidence for this? The last 5 trades they've made have been for minor league relievers. The trade before that? Ramos for Capps.

How can you draw any conclusion other than "the Twins don't quite understand player valuation" when the facts - i.e. the last 6 trades they've made - support that? Or do you believe, for example, JJ Hardy is worth 2 terrible minor league relievers (the better of whom the Twins just released)?

"And I am pretty sure they had been trying before they pulled the trigger on the deal with Colorado."

So they traded Slowey despite not being able to get what they wanted for him? This is almost worst - deciding to trade a player absolutely regardless of what they get? That's absolute stupidity, and a horrible way to run an organization. "When we don't like a guy, we dump him at any costs - even if it makes us worse as a team." Petty and dumb way to run an organization.

So, TT, which is it - they don't properly value players, or they run the organization like spiteful teenagers playing high-school power games?

Ed Bast said...

With the release of Mijares, I think I finally understand the Twins' plan this offseason:

Become the first professional sports organization in history to field a team purely based on personality: where niceness, lack of emotion, placidity, and humility are of sole importance and things like talent, intelligence, and value are absolutely irrelevant and thus ignored.

After the inevitable Cuddy resigning, there's only one more chip to fall: Valencia. He has self-confidence, get rid of him already. Prediction: he gets traded for a PTBNL (single-A reliever) in February.

The 2012 Twins will group-hug between innings; lead the league in charity work, smiles, and "getting after it"; and finish 20 games out of first.