Thursday, December 20, 2007

So Long to Silva

The Twins are confident they can absorb the loss of a $48 million pitcher. That says something about Minnesota’s pitching depth, the market value of .500 starters, or both.

Carlos Silva, who went 47-45 over four seasons in Minnesota and 13-14 last season, walked away from the Twins on Thursday by signing a four-year contract with the Seattle Mariners that will average $12 million per season.

“Good for Carlos. He’s a really good guy,” said Twins general manager Bill Smith, whose own offer, reportedly around $18 million over three seasons, would have paid half per season what the Venezuelan right-hander, the beneficiary of a thin crop of free-agent pitchers, will receive from the Mariners. “We went into the winter hoping we could keep him, but it quickly became apparent he would have some good offers.”

And the Twins quickly determined that they could save those millions by parceling out the 202 innings the sinkerballer pitched last season to their class of young pitchers coming up from their minor-league system.

“It’s the one area we’ve got some depth in,” Smith said. “Carlos provided us some innings here, which was good. But we hope we are able to cover those innings with (Scott) Baker and (Boof) Bonser and (Francisco) Liriano and (Kevin) Slowey. We’ve got (Nick) Blackburn, (Glen) Perkins, (Brian) Bass. We really like this group, and now they have that much more of an opportunity.”

Silva’s 47 wins over the past four seasons for Minnesota were second only to Johan Santana’s 70. It’s also 17 more victories than Eric Milton (30-33) has collected since the pitchers were exchanged for each other in a trade with Philadelphia (which also included Nick Punto coming to the Twins) in December 2002.

“This was a great fit here for Carlos,” Smith said. “We took a guy who was stuck in a relief role and gave him a chance. He performed well for us, and I’m happy for him.”

-- Phil Miller