Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kevin Correia: Pavano 2.0 or Marquis Redux?

The Twins got one step closer to filling out their starting rotation this week with the addition of Kevin Correia. He signed a two-year deal that was worth $10 million. Free agent starting pitchers have been doing pretty well so far this offseason but this deal still seems like a lot for a mediocre pitcher. Minnesota needed bodies to fill out the rest of their rotation and Correia will be given every opportunity to succeed with his new club. It just might not be too pretty for the fans to watch.

Correia has spent his entire career in the National League. He broke into the big leagues back in 2003 with San Francisco and he would pitch for them until 2008. During his time with the Giants, he split time between the bullpen and the rotation with a 4.59 ERA, 1.492 WHIP, and 6.5 SO/9. These are not exactly eye-popping statistics but he would be given other chances in more recent years.

His next couple of stops would be in San Diego and Pittsburgh. He won more games than he lost during the last four years but it came with a high 4.51 ERA. a 1.362 WHIP, and his strikeouts per nine dropped by almost a full strikeout (5.7). Everyone knew the Twins weren't going to be in the market for a top of the line starter but Correia is completely underwhelming.

In recent memory, the Twins have acquired a few different starting pitchers that seem to fit the same type of mold as Correia. If he follows the path of Carl Pavano, the Twins might be happy with the deal that was just signed. On the other hand, the Twins will be in the hurt bag if he turns out to be this year's version of Jason Marquis.

Carl Pavano
3 Seasons Prior to Twins: 14-10, 5.41 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 171.1 IP
Minnesota Year(s): 33-33, 4.31 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 579.2 IP

Minus his injury-plagued season in 2012, Pavano was a nice addition to the Twins staff during his time in Minnesota. He pitched over 220 innings in back-to-back seasons and he had a rebirth in 2010. He was the league leader in complete games that season and he helped the Twins to 94 wins and a trip back to the playoffs. The team wanted to keep him around for multiple seasons and his second best season as a professional came during this time.

When the Twins acquired Pavano, he had shown some semblance of health as a pitcher for the 2009 Cleveland Indians. The Twins needed some depth in their rotation for a run at the top of the AL Central. This had followed some horrendous years for the Yankees where Pavano had undergone multiple injuries and poor performances after signing a big free agent contract.

Before coming to Minnesota, Pavano had a couple of 200 inning seasons to his name but that came during the early part of his career. His resurgence with the club was fun to watch at times. The Twins can only hope to get these kinds of results from Correia.

Jason Marquis
3 Seasons Prior to Twins: 25-28, 4.54 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 406.2 IP
Minnesota Year(s): 2-4, 8.47 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 34.0 IP

Last season was a disaster for Marquis in a Twins uniform. The team was hoping he would be able to fill a spot in their rotation especially with injuries to Scott Baker and Kyle Gibson. A terrible accident with Marquis' daughter during spring training took him away from the club and maybe he never fully got ready for the start of the year. He looked lost on the mound and other team's pounced on this.

Much like Correia, Marquis spent his entire career in the National League before joining the Twins. He spent most of 2010 and 2011 in the rotation of the Washington Nationals with an ERA close to 5. At the end of 2011, he made a brief pit stop in Arizona with some equally as disastrous results as his time in Minnesota. This still didn't scare the Twins away enough to sign him to a 1-year, $3 million deal.

The similarities between Correia and Marquis might be closer to what the Twins can expect. Both played their entire careers in the NL with about the same results. If that's the case, the Twins have to deal with Correia for multiple seasons instead of being able to dump him like they did to Marquis. This could be scary to watch if he is putting up the same kind of numbers as Marquis.

Kevin Correia
3 Seasons Prior to Twins: 34-32, 4.77 ERA, 1.387 WHIP, 470.0 IP
Minnesota Year(s): ???

It would be great if Correia could become Pavano 2.0 for the Twins and eat up some innings at an efficient rate. There have been brief glimpses of a solid pitcher in the past. There were bad seasons for Pavano before he got to Minnesota and something seemed to click. If this same kind of epiphany could occur for Correia, this deal might not turn out as bad as it seems at the outset.

It wouldn't be so great if Correia became Marquis redux for the Twins by struggling with the transition from the NL to the AL. There are some question marks with the Twins infielders and a ground ball pitcher like Correia could find some hardships if the defense isn't there behind him. Plus the multi-year contract makes it difficult to get rid of him if he plays poorly.

Maybe the friendly confines of Target Field will help to make Correia into the next Pavano. Otherwise Twins fans are stuck with two years of Correia putting up Marquis-type numbers at the back of the rotation. Settling into a spot somewhere between Pavano's good years and Marquis implosion might be the destiny for Mr. Correia.

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