Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Burning Bridges with Kevin Slowey

At this point, there seems to be little secret that Kevin Slowey has fallen out of favor with the Minnesota Twins. It seems that everybody within the general vicinity of Kevin Slowey hates Kevin Slowey. I have to admit ignorance on this one; he seems like a nice enough guy when he threatens to murder people. However, I can see how Slowey time traveling, kidnapping and then murdering the Lindbergh baby would not win him popularity points with anyone.

In all seriousness though, there were at one point many trade rumors swirling around regarding the Twins dealing Kevin Slowey. For all we know, the Twins may still try and work out a deal through waivers or ship him off this offseason. The question has to be asked, is Kevin Slowey so intolerable that he should be dealt? It seems he has a way of getting on the bad side of team officials, management, teammates and the media alike. However, when he’s not creating turmoil or rehabbing from his latest DL stint he’s actually a pretty good pitcher.

Slowey has been a 2-3 WAR pitcher when moderately healthy. He is a rare pitcher in that he has both the ability to keep the walk totals lower than anybody not named Roy Halladay while still striking out almost 7 batters per nine innings. Now, he does this while giving up a ton of fly balls and allowing about 10% of those fly balls to carry over for home runs while featuring fairly mediocre stuff. On the whole, Slowey has proven himself to be a solid, if unspectacular starter amassing a 4.24 FIP for his career, a mark that is better than other notable starters Trevor Cahill, Rick Porcello and Nick Blackburn over the same period. As you can see that does not exactly put him in elite company but it does indicate that he’s more than good enough to be an unquestioned starter for a club and provide value in the middle to middle back end of a rotation.

This season, Slowey saw more time out of the bullpen initially and is only now getting a shot at the rotation amid reports that everyone and their brother is dissatisfied with him in Minnesota. The question for Minnesota really is whether Slowey’s apparent unlikeable disposition is enough to trade him for what will likely be lesser value than his worth, or can they just send him over to the far corner of the locker room and pitch him when needed? The problem here is that most of the opposition probably realizes that Minnesota would be willing to take less than full value to rid themselves of this headache, and they also realize that Slowey is a pretty effective pitcher. Maybe the best thing they can do is to pitch him as a starter, hope he stays healthy for a length of time, and then deal him for as close to fair value as they can get at some point next season. At any rate, there is more to this story than meets the eye and it will be interesting to see it play out over the rest of this season and the offseason.

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