The signing of Kevin Correia—when first reported—was not taken well by Minnesota Twins fans this off-season. Why the Twins would ever give a mediocre pitcher a two-year contract worth $10 million is still beyond me, but after his first spring training start, Correia seemed to be winning over some of the fan base who had hoped he could turn into an average or serviceable pitcher. I was not willing to jump to conclusions and instead waited to see a larger body of work before passing judgment on him. After Tuesday’s start in which he gave up five hits, three runs—two of them earned—over two and a third innings of work, I am feeling more confident in my perception of him as a below average pitcher.
Some analysts or people within the organization will argue that Correia was facing a good lineup in the Philadelphia Phillies, which could have led to his high numbers. However, if Correia is going to justify his $10 million contract, he will need to pitch well against some tougher opponents more often than not.
Bluntly put, Correia just doesn’t have what it takes to pitch effectively in the American League because at the end of the day, he wasn’t even effective in the National League. Last season, Correia was 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA in 28 starts over 171 innings and even made four relief appearances during the season. When you look at those numbers, they do not justify a $10 million contract and they do not jump out at you. If anything, they remind you of the below-average pitchers the Twins were trotting out on a frequent basis last year.
What Correia can be is an innings eater on a poor team, which the Twins obviously qualify for as at this point, but to say that he needs to be paid $10 million to do that just isn’t smart managing. I don’t mean to constantly belittle Correia for what he is because there is a role in this league for pitchers of his skill set. All I am saying is that he is going to need to perform better than he ever has if he is going to justify the contract that he signed this off-season. Again, is it his fault that he was offered this money? No it isn’t, but at the end of the day it is still his name on that contract and he needs to do better if he is going to fulfill the expectations that accompany a contract of that stature.
In my opinion, Correia is best suited as a long reliever on this team in a role that Anthony Swarzak has held down the past few seasons. I would be surprised if he makes it through the season as a starter or even makes it through his contract without being placed on waivers at some point. Knowing the Twins, they will give him every opportunity to find his form at the expense of the fans who can see already that this isn’t going to work out for either party involved. Until then, Twins fans are going to have to expect that every five days when his number is called on in the rotation, underwhelming performances are going to appear over and over again.
It is pitchers like Correia that bring me back to the frustrating days when Ramon Ortiz, Sidney Ponson and other free agents from the bargain bin comprised the Twins’ rotation, but as the saying goes, those who don’t learn from the past are bound to repeat it. Looks like the Twins didn’t learn their lesson.