HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
December 11, 2006

Twins need to add another arm

By Matt Kane

If watching the purple has turned you blue, just keep this in mind: spring training and the red, white, and blue pin-striped Twins are just two months away.

Unofficially, the Twins open their Grapefruit League schedule Feb. 28 against the Boston Red Sox, but the players start reporting to Fort Myers several weeks ahead of time.

There are few phrases more soothing to the cabin-fevered soul than ‘Catchers and pitchers report. . .’

For the most part, Twins fans know who those catchers and pitchers will be come February. But there are a few gaps that need to be filled on the mound.

There are no questions about the front of the Twins’ starting rotation, with Cy Young winner, Johan Santana. But who will follow him is another story.

Although the team is still talking to him, it looks as if Brad Radke is going to adhere to his plan of retiring, so that’s one position to fill.

Certainly, Boof Bonser will get his fair share of starts, and may just be the second-best starter on the Twins’ current 40-man roster.

Of course, 5-year veteran Carlos Silva has more experience than Bonser, but Silva will have to earn back the trust he once had with the Twins’ coaching staff and fans.

The other spots in the rotaion look like a toss-up heading into spring training. Scott Baker and Matt Garza are likely to figure into the rotation, and who knows what kind of plans the Twins have for left-hander Glen Perkins.

Other than Santana, the Twins’ starting rotation seems rather thin. So, maybe, they should think about adding another veteran arm.

Odds are, they wouldn’t go after any of the high-priced veteran free agents, like Roger Clemens, Barry Zito, Andy Pettitte, or Jeff Suppan, but what about someone like Jason Marquis, Mark Mulder, or David Wells?

Marquis is probably the most affordable, with the biggest upside.

The 32-year-old righty was 14-16 last season with the world champion St. Louis Cardinals, so he knows what it’s like to pitch in the postseason. He won 42 games over the past three seasons, and has a career record of 56-52 with a 4.55 ERA.

Mulder is coming off a rough season, in which he finished 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA in just 17 games. His recent injury problems — he had rotator cuff surgery Sept. 12 — should significantly bring the left-hander’s price tag down from the $7.75 million he made in 2006.

And then, there is David “Boomer” Wells.

There are probably more reasons to not sign him than there are to sign him.
Wells is 43 years old; he’s usually out of shape; and he pitched in just 13 games (he had a 3-5 record) for the Red Sox and Padres in 2006.

Those numbers aren’t exactly impressive, but my agurments in favor of him have a lot to do with entertainment factor. People notice when Boomer is on the mound, and he is a proven winner when it counts most.

Wells has 230 career wins, and has 10 seasons of 15 or more wins, the latest being a 15-7 campaign with Boston in 2005. And Twins fans shouldn’t forget May 17, 1998, when he threw a perfect game against them at Yankee Stadium.

Wells is a control pitcher, who lets his defense do the work. With multi-time gold glove winners in center field (Torii Hunter) and at second base (Luis Castillo), and baseball vacuums elswhere around the diamond, Wells and the Twins might be a match made in heaven.

Wells made $4 million last season. A price well worth it for the pure entertainment he brings to a ballclub.

His 2003 book was titled, “Perfect I’m not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches, and Baseball.”

Enough said.

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