Slowey Dealt to the Rockies for PTBNL

The Twins and Kevin Slowey were able to get some closure to their messy divorce Tuesday as the club dealt the flyballing right-hander to the Colorado Rockies. The Twins will receive a player-to-be-named-later, which potentially hinges on the Rule 5 draft which takes place Thursday. Given Slowey’s struggles in 2011, it’s unlikely that the player will be of much consequence.

The dust-up between the club and Slowey was over his inability — or depending on your prerogative, his unwillingness — to move to the bullpen early last season. The club had a similar row with left-handed setup man Glen Perkins, who felt he was held back in Rochester in an attempt to control his wages when he felt he was healthy enough to be on the active roster down the stretch in 2010.

Nonetheless, the issue at hand favors neither the defendant nor the plaintiff. To the Twins, there was no reason that Slowey, who earned $2.7 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility, couldn’t adjust to a move to the bullpen just like oodles of other hurlers before him. In Slowey’s defense, there’s no question he was one of the Twins’ top-five starters entering 2011 — in my view clearly superior to Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn — yet the club willfully moved him to the bullpen for reasons still not entirely clear. He had also claimed at various times that he just couldn’t get loose in the time typically allotted to middle relievers. I’m neither a pitching coach nor a physical therapist, but I suppose that’s also a possible issue.

The Twins shopped Slowey in vain near the trade deadline last season. However, a disabled list stint basically knocked out the entire midsection of his season, and sapped whatever trade value he might have had. With a season down the tubes on many fronts, the Twins opted to give Slowey an opportunity to hurl as an audition down the stretch. And hurl he did.

Slowey went 0-8 down the stretch, with a 7.25 ERA, .887 OPS against, and did so while allowing a stunning eight home runs in just 44.2 innings pitched.

Now certainly Slowey won’t be that bad in Denver. As an ardent observer, it’s hard to see how Slowey could have performed well down the stretch given the circumstances, self-induced or not. In fact, for a pitcher with pedestrian stuff, he’s done well to average 6.7 K/9 — better than Edwin Jackson, for instance — with respectable rates across the board. Where he’ll get into trouble with the Rockies is with the longball, as his 1.42 HR/9 rate doesn’t play up anywhere really, especially not at Coors Field. In fact, ‘Life to Flying Things’ — we should probably start calling him this — carries a 47.9 percent career fly ball rate. This is almost guaranteed disaster in a Rockies home park that appears trending back towards the glory days of a 120-plus Baseball Reference park factor. With a cursory glance, the only successful Rockies pitcher I can find with this kind of fly ball rate is current closer Rafael Betancourt.

A random sampling from the rest of the list: Kevin Jarvis, Juan Morillo, Nate Field, and Jason Hirsh.

To me, the move would have made sense for Seattle, St. Louis, or maybe even San Diego to make. In parks that suppress home runs/offense — and Target Field also does its share — Slowey has a chance to be a palpable third or fourth starter. In Denver, Slowey shouldn’t be expected to do more than to hold Drew Pomeranz’ place for a little while.

In addition to Rotographs, Warne writes about the Minnesota Twins for The Athletic and is a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

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12 years ago
Reply to  Brandon Warne

Bill James’ projections are openly unscientific and intended for amusement only.