Wetmore: An attempt to answer why Kevin Correia still is making starts
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MINNEAPOLIS - Unlike in recent seasons, the Twins actually have pitching depth in their system. The Major League staff doesn't turn heads around baseball, but Minnesota quietly has assembled a group of pitchers that is knocking on the door of the Major Leagues. Some will be in the rotation next season, while others could bide their time at Triple-A Rochester, waiting to fill in when necessary.
It's that depth that makes one wonder: what purpose does it serve to have Kevin Correia eating innings the rest of the way?
It could have to do with the Twins' reluctance to 'gift' promotions to minor league players.
General manager Terry Ryan's philosophy is that a player should not be promoted simply for the sake of getting time in the big leagues. A player has to earn it, Ryan said.
"Not unless they're ready. I don't ever think that you should just bring a guy up to look. If they're ready we should get them up here. I think that's the route to go," Ryan said. "Guys have to earn this promotion, there's no question that's the fair thing, I think."
When the Twins signed Correia to a two-year, $10 million deal in December 2012, it seemed like they were looking for an innings eater. And Correia has been that. He's earned that contract and the Twins got what they should reasonably have expected from the veteran. In my opinion the Twins don't owe Correia the professional courtesy of letting him finish his current contract in Minnesota.
Minnesota has 50 starts remaining, and since the Twins are out of contention, it would make sense to get ready for 2015.
Now, each prospect's situation is unique, but I find it hard to believe that at least one of them wouldn't be better served in 2015 for having made a handful of starts in the Majors at the end of 2014. (I'll include an exception for health. If the Twins, for example, plan to shut down a pitcher like Alex Meyer, or deem that Major League innings put more stress on his arm, then fine. Trevor May's now-healed calf, on the other hand, should not prevent a call-up, in my opinion.)
Twins have on their 40-man roster starters such as Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone, Kris Johnson, Logan Darnell, and relievers Michael Tonkin and Edgar Ibarra. Mark Hamburger also has made five starts for the Rochester Red Wings. Yohan Pino is another 'depth' name, but he's already in the Twins' rotation. Anthony Swarzak did well in a spot start and Sam Deduno has had his chances in the rotation.
The Twins have not yet announced a starter for Saturday's game against the Oakland A's. A case could be made for a couple Triple-A pitchers to get their chance to show their stuff in the Majors.
When asked about Trevor May, Ryan downplayed the idea that each start is critical to the decision whether or not to bring him up.
"We've seen [Kris] Johnson, we've seen [Logan] Darnell. There will be a few others that ultimately we'll get a look at as well. Every time guys go out, yeah it's an important outing for them. It's not live-or-die or anything like that. But go out and do the job and get into the discussion so you're part of the equation when we do want to go get somebody. Like we're going to need somebody [Saturday]. You'd like to think all those guys would get themselves into a position [to be called up]," Ryan said.
Here's the question: In the final seven weeks of another losing season, would it make sense to lower that promotion threshold and either trade or give away Correia to free up another spot? Consider the cost, consider the benefits.