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.




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In addition to Rotographs, Warne is a Minnesota Twins beat reporter for 105 The Ticket's "Cold Omaha" website as well as 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


24 Responses to “Slowey Dealt to the Rockies for PTBNL”

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  1. Yep. It won’t be pretty.

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  2. BlackOps says:

    Rockies win again!

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  3. Resolution says:

    Normally, I think the whole ‘this pitcher won’t succeed at Coors’ is totally overblown. In Slowey’s case though, I’m really doubting he’ll have much success.

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    • Resolution says:

      Yea, I’m aware of how Coors inflates scoring. There just seems to be a general sentiment around the web though that rather than just being somewhat less effective, a flyball pitcher is completely screwed.

      I think a flyball pitcher in Slowey’s mold does look like an extremely poor fit for Coors, but a guy like Rafael Betancourt has been rather effective. It’s hard to have a bigger sample though as in the humidor era, the Rockies have really focused on guys who are not flyball pitchers.

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    • Betancourt pitches an inning at a time (172 appearances, 150 IP), and has fanned 11 per 9 with the Rox.

      Apples and oranges, I think.

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    • Resolution says:

      @ Brandon: My general point was just that I think that Coors being a death sentence on flyball pitchers is overstated – people apply it pretty liberally. Regarding Slowey though, yea it doesn’t seem like he offers enough in other departments to compensate.

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    • I don’t disagree, I just don’t think Slowey will on the whole be very good there.

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    • juan pierres mustache says:

      i think it’s fair to say that certain skillsets (lack-of-skill sets?) will do poorly at coors, and certain guys will most likely will have some trouble. it’s fair to at least give the guy a chance while not expecting much, i guess. “don’t assume every flyball pitcher will suck at coors” is at least a better argument than the other one i saw for slowey today, which i will title “His HR rate is already so high so it won’t really get worse in Coors, right?”

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  4. bill says:

    Yes, this was a vindictive move by the Twins and its further evidence that the current regime has outlived its welcome. That said, the reasoning for putting Slowey in the bullpen was this:

    OPS-against by times through the order:

    1st time: .684
    2nd time: .779
    3rd time: .971
    4th time: 1.003

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  5. Joe says:

    I think your handle has a better shot at happening next year than Slowey being effective in Colorado.

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  6. Michael says:

    Slowey throws strikes, the Rockies apparently love that about him. General manager Dan O’Dowd also likes this type of back-end pitcher for his rotation. History proves it.

    Slowey, if he’s right of mind and body should be a respectable starter with some bad-to-very-bad days. The Rockies just don’t want to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for a guy who gives them a chance to win in the case of injuries or young pitchers not yet, if ever being ready.

    Getting someone like Esmil Rogers out of consideration as a starter would be a plus. Resigning Kevin Millwood would further add to the back-end depth.

    The big question mark here is what players have the Rockies and Twins’ discussed as the player-to-be-named?

    That will go a long way towards determining the intelligence of this trade.

    Rockies’ Analyst (google)
    and
    Colorado Rockies’ Prospects Report (google)

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  7. Scared Hitless says:

    As a Twins fan I’m still basking of the glow of the trade that rid us of
    Delmon Young (a young power hitting right hander) for a low a middle
    relief pitcher I couldn’t remember the name of if I was dared with my life.

    Yep, that’s “my Twins”…turing power hitters into slap hitters and then
    trading them before their prime because they don’t produce runs….ahhh
    the glory years are right around the corner…i can feel it.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      I don’t think FG is the place to come to about that being a bad trade. He couldn’t field and had a wRC+ of 88 last year. Not exactly a top player.

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  8. wahooo says:

    It isn’t as bad as it is made out to be….

    I looked up the top 10 fly ball pitchers in the NL last year to see how they performed at Coors. Bronson Arroyo was blown up in one start (6ER in 1 IP), but the rest had reasonable success. Ignoring Arroyo, the group started 8 games, 45.1 IP, 19ER for a 3.77 ERA. We aren’t talking about a great group here either (Hudson, Norris, Kennedy, Marcum, Lilly, Zimmerman). I’m not saying there isn’t risk in bringing in a FB pitcher, but they can be successful.

    I also looked at the opposite end of the spectrum–the extreme groundballers–again there was one outlier Jaime Garcia (3.1 IP, 11ER). Taking a look at the rest, ignoring Chacin who would otherwise dominate the stats, 6GS, 35.2 IP 16 ER–4.04 ERA. I know sample size…etc, but I think the FB thing is overblown.

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    • Sort of hard to use a season’s worth of data and a handful of pitchers though, isn’t it?

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      • wahooo says:

        I agree, but it seems everyone else is just assuming, based on zero concrete data that I can see, that fly ball pitchers fare worse at Coors. I’d actually like to see the research on a significant sized data set, but just don’t have the time.

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  9. glassSheets says:

    His 2011 was bad. But if you don’t believe that is the real him, or take his career as the real him, then he is cheaper than a Derek Lowe type and will give up similar number of runs. As an extreme fly ball pitcher, Slowey’s ERA is always going to look a little worse than a ground ball pitcher (or even a league average ratio guy).

    His velocity and movement looked similar to years past on his pitches and his release was a nice tight cluster in 2011, so the cursory look doesn’t appear to be something overly concerning. But his fastball location looked to be higher in the zone and his most likely the biggest culprit for the spike in HR.

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  10. Sean says:

    Do you think flipping him to a team with a pitcher friendly park is an option for Colorado? Surely they can’t be serious in acquiring Slowey and sticking him the rotation.

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