Thoughts on Gibson, other Twins-related notes

Posted on August 18th, 2009 – 11:42 AM
By La Velle

Hit the breakfast buffet this morning. Dropped two pieces of bread in the toaster, then went to acquire other items. I head for the toaster when it pops – but some guy pulls my toast out and gives it to his kid.

Didn’t know toast-poaching was allowed in these parts….

Haven’t heard who’s coming off the 40-man roster for Francisco Liriano. But let me clear up one thing I didn’t mention in today’s coverage: Today was Phil Humber’s day to start for Class AAA Rochester. The Twins needed a rested arm to join their pitching staff, which is gasping for breath. Armado Gabino pitched Sunday, so he wasn’t what they needed right now.

I had both guns loaded and ready to fire today if the Twins didn’t sign Kyle Gibson. I’m fully aware that the draft is a crapshoot, and if you believe a player is THE guy and can get him for less, fine. The Twins did that with Ben Revere in 2007. Revere is now one of their top prospects, and a tradeable commodity (hint, hint!) to get quality major league talent.

But that went out the window once they drafted Gibson. He’s a top five talent who slid to No. 22 because of injury concerns, concerns that the Twins checked out and are confident won’t develop into elbow problems.

They should have been prepared to pay Gibson a bonus over the league-suggested slot, which is $1.287 million. And by over, I’m not talking about $100,000.

Joe C. did a great job of keeping up with the developments. While things didn’t look good a few days ago, I wasn’t too concerned. Mainly because I know how deliberate the Twins can be during negotiations (dozens of conversations with exasperated agents through the years proves that) and that several first-rounders were unsigned.

But there were times yesterday when I thought they weren’t going to sign him. The Twins hadn’t moved much past $1.3 million, and Gibson’s adviser was pushing for $2.5 million.

Not only did the Twins sign Gibson for $1.85M – $563,000 over slot – they looked a lot better than several clubs that went over the league-suggested slot. Some examples:

Pick   Name                           Team        Bonus                 Recommended  Difference

6        Zack Wheeler, RHP     SF            $3,300,000      $2,340,000        $960,000
11      Tyler Matzek, LHP       COL        $3,900,000      $1,791,000         $2,109,000
13      Grant Green, SS           OAK        $2,750,000      $1,656,000        $1,094,000
29      Slade Heathcott,OF      NYY       $2,200,000      $1,107,000        $1,093,000
58      Andrew Oliver, LHP     DET        $1,495,000      $624,600           $870,400
76      J.R. Murphy, C             NYY         $1,250,000       $477,900           $772,100
91      Wil Myers, C/3B             KC         $2,000,000      $380,700          $1,619,300
122    Chris Dwyer, LHP          KC         $1,450,000      $240,300          $1,209,700
123    Max Stassi, C              OAK          $1,500,000     $236,700           $1,263,300

(Note: This doesn’t count major league deals or two-sport athlete deals, which can be spread over four years. And I don’t know if there are any special circumstances with the ones I listed).

The system needs to be addressed, no doubt. Tim Lincecum signed for just over $2 million in 2006. Eight unproven pitchers are getting more than that this season, a couple of them are getting much, much more. But if the Twins stick to the principles and say, “we’re not going to pay what we feel is too much,” they and a few other teams will be part of the world’s greatest band playing on the Titanic.

There are plenty of rounds to strike gold in but what’s the point if you can’t sign a player who is projected to be a difference-maker? The Twins needed Gibson. One of the reasons they are in the situation they are in now is because of their 2003 and 2004 drafts and, to an extent, the 2005 draft too.

Now the Twins have Gibson, Matt Bashore, Bill Bullock and Ben Tootle – their first four pick this year – signed. Props to them for getting top talent in the organization this year. All four should move through the system at a pretty good pace. Scouts believe that of the Missouri pitchers in recent years – Max Scherzer (D-Backs), Aaron Crow (Royals draftee) and Gibson – Gibson might be the best of the three.

“I want to make a good impression and I want to show the Twins they made a good  investment,” Gibson said. 

Gibson’s slider is the real deal, he might end up with a plus changeup and has very good command. Don’t expect him to pitch for the Twins next season, that’s just not how this organization rolls with prospects. But a spot in the 2011 rotation isn’t out of the question.

On a sad note, just learned that former Twins prospect Brent Schoening has passed away after a bout with leukemia. Here’s the story. Class A Fort Myers manager Jeff Smith played with Schoening.

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