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Updated: October 14th, 2012 12:45pm
Notebook: Twins seek 'affordable' pitching, but will monitor big names

Notebook: Twins seek 'affordable' pitching, but will monitor big names

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Twins will hold organizational meetings in Fort Myers, Fla. over the next five days. Led by general manager Terry Ryan, Twins decision-makers will evaluate personnel throughout the system, discuss open coaching positions and lay out this offseason's blue print.

In an interview with 1500 ESPN's Sunday Morning SportsTalk, Ryan once again made it clear acquiring pitching is the top priority.

"Not just the starting pitching," Ryan said, "but the bullpen needs to add more people too. ...

"(Joel) Zumaya, (Jason) Marquis, (Scott) Baker, (Carl) Pavano, (Matt) Capps, there were a bunch of them, there was quite a bit of peril with all those guys."

Ryan said the Twins will look at "a combination of every avenue" in their search for pitching. Should they choose to trade, the Twins have surpluses at first base and in the outfield, with Justin Morneau, Chris Parmelee, Denard Span, Ben Revere, Josh Willingham and even Ryan Doumit all in line for regular playing time. Outfielders Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks both had huge seasons for Double-A New Britain as well.

Free agency opens on the sixth day after the completion of the World Series, and the Twins head into the offseason with approximately $74 million already committed to the major-league payroll. Twins officials have not publicly specified what the 2013 opening-day payroll will be, but a figure somewhere between $90 million and $100 million seems likely.

When asked about signing free agent starting pitchers, Ryan referenced scouting the "affordable" ones, but also acknowledged "We've certainly got to pay attention to the biggest names out there... We've got to have interest in those types of guys. Whether the years and dollars equate to what we're trying to do is another story."

The big-name free agent starters include Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, and potentially Jake Peavy, who has a $22 million team option with the White Sox, and Dan Haren, who has a $15.5 million team option with the Angels.

Still mum on Molitor

Paul Molitor expressed his desire to interview for a Twins coaching position earlier this month, but Ryan was quick to say the Hall of Famer wasn't a good fit.

When pressed on the issue Sunday, Ryan remained steadfast in his ambiguity.

"It seems on the surface it's a natural fit... It's not a fit right now," Ryan said. "I treasure Paul's influence in this organization tremendously, but we're going to go a different route. ...

"For whatever reason, I'm just going to leave it at that."

Ryan added the decision was a joint one between he and manager Ron Gardenhire.

Triple-A staffers Bobby Cuellar, Tom Brunansky and Gene Glynn appear to be the three most logical candidates to fill the open roles.

Thinking ahead on Gibson

In planning what the next calendar year could look like for right-hander Kyle Gibson, Ryan said the Twins have looked at how the Washington Nationals handled Stephen Strasburg, who was shut down after 159 1/3 innings in his first full season following Tommy John elbow surgery.

"I think we'll probably ease it in as we go into April and May, then hopefully we'll have him available for how we want to use him in June, July and August," Ryan said.

"I certainly don't want to hurt Gibson, so we've got to monitor him closely."

Ryan said Gibson will throw between 130 or 140 innings next season after throwing what will likely wind up being 70 or 80 innings between rehab outings, High-A Fort Myers, Triple-A Rochester and the Arizona Fall League this season.

He added that pitches per outing are more important than total innings, noting Scott Diamond threw 93 pitches per start. The MLB average is 96 pitches per start, however the Twins -- despite limiting pitch counts more than any team in baseball -- have had no better results in the health department.

Gibson pitched five scoreless innings in his fall league debut Thursday, striking out eight while walking nobody. His fastball velocity sat mostly at 92 to 93 mph.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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