The Twins recently signed 32 year-old right-handed pitcher Tim Stauffer to a one year $2.2 million deal. Stauffer was a 36th round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in 2000 but he chose not to sign and went on to college. Stauffer then was selected in the first round by the San Diego Padres in the 2003 draft and was the 4th overall pick. Prior to signing with the Padres, Stauffer and his agent Ron Shapiro stepped up and notified the team that Stauffer was suffering from some arm weakness after his last collegiate start. According to reports the Padres eventually signed Stauffer for $750,000, far short of the slot for a fourth overall pick of $2.4 million and way under the $2.6 million the team originally offered. The Padres loved his make-up and honesty and praised his integrity and then gave him almost $2 million less to sign. I guess the old saying “that no good deed goes unpunished” is true, at least it was here.
Stauffer debuted with the Padres in May of 2005 and pitched in 18 games for the friars between 2005-2007 before running into elbow issues and ended up having Tommy John surgery in May 2008 and missed the entire season. Stauffer’s best season was probably 2011 when he started 31 games and had a 9-12 record with a 3.73 ERA in 185 innings. The elbow injury bug struck Stauffer again in 2012 and after pitching just five innings in one game in 2012 Stauffer decided to have elbow flexor surgery in August and was forced to sit out the remainder of the season.
With two elbow surgeries on his resume, the Padres sent Stauffer to the bullpen in 2013 where Stauffer may have found his niche. In the last two seasons Stauffer has gone 9-3 with a 3.63 ERA in which he has struck out 131 batters in 134 innings. Stauffer’s SO/9 ratio has jumped to 8.8 as a reliever after sitting at 6.2 as a starter. Stauffer throws five pitches, a sinker 36% of the time, a cutter 27%, fourseam fastball 16%, a change-up 11% and a curve with a knuckleball grip about 10% of the time. According to Brooks Baseball, Stauffer throws between 76-91 MPH and his change-up generates more strike-outs than an average change-up does. The fly in the ointment as far as Stauffer is concerned besides his injury history is that he has a career 3.0 BB/9 mark and a 1.31 WHIP which kind of goes against the Twins pitching grain but then again maybe the Twins will look at this stat differently under the new Paul Molitor and Neil Allen regime.
So where does Tim Stauffer fit in the Twins pitching staff if at all? The Twins aren’t paying Stauffer $2.2 million to pitch for the Red Wings. According to what I have read Stauffer likes starting and the Twins have promised him a chance to be just that but in reality his chances of starting are about as good as my chances are of starting for the Twins. The Twins have a spot on the bullpen bench with Stauffer’s name on it. The only question is what his role will be coming out of the pen. Some have said that he will get a shot at the set-up role replacing Burton but I don’t see that in the cards, at least not to start the season if at all. I see Stauffer taking over as an upgrade over Anthony Swarzak as the Twins long guy with emergency start potential. We will see how it all plays out this spring.