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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Twins add veteran leadership to their starting rotation

By David

The Twins starting rotation includes three players who made their Major League debuts last season. In search of stability and leadership on their team, Minnesota inked right-hander Ramon Ortiz to a one-year deal worth an estimated $3.1 million. That's pretty impressive for a player who went 11-16 last season.

With only two starters in Johan Santana and Carlos Silva who had more than a years pitching experience, the Twins needed to go out and sign a veteran. Ortiz has been in the majors for eight years and during his career he has played for three teams. He won the World Series in 2002 with the Angels, and most recently played for the Reds and Nationals.

By no means is Ortiz an overbearing pitcher, but he will add some security to Ron Gardenhire's staff. During the past two season Ortiz has had an ERA of 5.36 and 5.57, and has surrendered a total of 65 home runs. To be successful, Ortiz needs to keep the ball down and find the confidence he had during his six seasons with the Angels. With the electrifying Johan Santana on his team, the 33 year old will quickly learn how to be an effective pitcher.

It appears that Glen Perkins who made his big league debut last September will be the odd man out in the Twinkies starting rotation. Right-hander Carlos Silva has been with Minnesota for the past three seasons, but struggled last season as he went 11-15 with an ERA of 5.94. Considering his experience, he should be given an extending period of time to prove himself, but if he's not effective Scott Baker, Sidney Ponson or even Glen Perkins could take his spot in the rotation.

Right-hander Boof Bonser is currently slated in as the second starter, and last season he displayed his talent as he went 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 18 games. More importantly, the St.Petersburg, Florida native had a walk to strikeout ratio of 3:1, and in his lone postseason start he went six innings and only gave up two runs.

As Twins pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 18th, it will be interesting to see who secures the final spots in Minnesota's starting rotation.The Twins will have an up hill battle all season long as they try to defend their AL Central crown. The White Sox, Tigers, and Indians will all be close on their track.


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