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  • Health Permitting, Pelfrey Could Deliver

    Terry Ryan hasn't exactly sugarcoated his approach to repairing the Twins' woeful pitching staff this offseason. It's about quantity, not quality.

    "We've got numbers," the general manager said last week. "It's just a matter of who is going to emerge. Some guys will be injured. Some will fall by the wayside. Some won't be ready. But we have to have numbers."

    Ryan is apparently poised to increase that number again, with reports arising over the weekend that he's agreed to terms with right-hander Mike Pelfrey on a one-year deal. The 28-year-old has pitched in the Mets organization since being drafted in the first round back in 2005. He underwent Tommy John surgery in May of last year, and became a free agent after New York non-tendered him in November.

    Looking past the injury, the Pelfrey signing doesn't seem much different from last week's uninspiring Kevin Correia acquisition on the surface. Both are back-of-rotation hurlers with low strikeout rates and no experience pitching in the American League. But there are a few key differentiators that should make you feel considerably better about this move:

    1. Contract. Whereas the Twins mysteriously made a two-year commitment to Correia, Pelfrey gets a one-year pact with only $4 million guaranteed (he can earn another $1.5 million in incentives). It's a low base especially in the context of this offseason and the signing has no impact on the club's payroll beyond this year. The "no such thing as a bad one-year contract" mantra rings true here.

    2. Durability. This might seem like an odd selling point given that Pelfrey is coming off major elbow surgery, but he totaled 184 innings or more in each of the four seasons prior. That's a mark that Correia has topped only once in his career. Or, as a more relevant example, it's a mark that Scott Baker who is older and received more guaranteed money from the Cubs has only reached once. Up until the torn elbow ligament, Pelfrey was a workhorse. It will be interesting to see if any kind of innings limit is instituted next year, but seeing as how he's trying to rebuild his value I have to think he'd be opposed.

    3. Upside. Correia is 32 and has basically been mediocre or worse throughout his career. Conversely, Pelfrey is 28, was the ninth overall pick in the draft and was ranked by Baseball America as the game's 20th-best prospect after dominating the minors in his first pro season.

    Even coming off major surgery, I like Pelfrey better than Correia. But he's another contact-heavy guy joining a staff that is already full of them. That could be a recipe for trouble considering this team's defensive question marks. With Denard Span and Ben Revere out of the picture, it's entirely possible that the Twins won't have a single starter on the field who is a true asset at his position with the glove.

    Pelfrey's addition isn't likely to dramatically boost the overall quality of the rotation, but he's another potentially useful major-league arm to throw in the mix and while his style is doesn't stand out from what the Twins already have, his pedigree and background certainly do.

    As we know all too well, the path back from Tommy John surgery tends to include numerous setbacks and tribulations. Who knows, maybe they'll get lucky and Pelfrey will quickly regain his old form, establishing value at the trade deadline or perhaps even prompting the Twins to consider an extension. If he fizzles, their long-term plans will not be affected. Tough to criticize the move from that standpoint.

    Yet, while the Pelfrey signing is fine in isolation, combined with last week's Correia signing it's a sign that Ryan and the Twins are resigned to scraping the bargain bin for pitching help, despite the fact that it's December, not Feburary, and there is supposedly plenty of payroll flexibility. That's harder to figure.
    This article was originally published in blog: Health Permitting, Pelfrey Could Deliver started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 52 Comments
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      I've read the article Nick. And I've given you a little bit of my heart - as you can see - because I agree with you.
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Does he have any arbitration years left?
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      No. He's over five years of service, so he'll be a free agent after the season.
    1. twinsfaninsaudi's Avatar
      twinsfaninsaudi -
      Another awesome signing!! And no I'm not joking. I <3 Terry Ryan!!!
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      This is a far superior signing to the Correia signing, but that's not saying much...
    1. frightwig's Avatar
      frightwig -
      Pelfrey was a 1st round pick... in 2005. But his career numbers aren't much different than Correia's marks.

      Pelfrey career: 50-54, 4.36 ERA (92 ERA+), 4.50 xFIP, 5.08 K/9, 3.19 BB/9 (4.74 ERA, 4.55 xFIP, 4.88 K/9, 3.02 BB/9 in 2011).

      Correia career: 60-65, 4.54 ERA (88 ERA+), 4.44 xFIP, 6.01 K/9, 3.22 BB/9 (4.21 ERA, 4.34 xFIP, 4.68 K/9, 2.42 BB/9 in 2012).

      They're basically the same type and quality of pitcher (even if Pelfrey's arm is in shape... and we'll see about that). I like Correia a little better because of the question about Pelfrey's health, but also because Correia's control has been a bit better and his groundball rate has been higher, lately. I think there's a fair chance that either one of these guys could be a decent back-end, pitch-to-contact, groundball, 4.50 ERA pitcher. But, I doubt the ceiling, or upside, is much higher than that for either of them, too.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      We actually signed a Scott Boras client, so that's something
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      A one-year deal is rarely wrong. But still 4 million? Weird. Anyway, I like adding Pelfrey sans Correia. Now I am a bit worried. Jurrjens is a good choice right now. The upside there is pretty substantial.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I don't mind scraping the bottom if they make one mid-level acquisition. Scraping and then going for just above the scrapings (Correia) is not good at all.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      "It's just a matter of who is going to emerge." Umm, I think there is a bit more to success than that. Farmers don't just buy seed and throw it on the ground to see what "is going to emerge."
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Nick, I think that you have done a great job laying this out, and let's all hope that Pelfrey pans out . I just wish that the Twins had at least one option year in case he is really good.
    1. mako83's Avatar
      mako83 -
      Couldn't they have sign pelfrey before correria this feels like a make up signing. One more starter they need to get.
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      Don't love the move...don't hate it either....

      would sure rather have paid baker the X-tra 1-2 Million needed compared to Pelfrey to Keep Scotty Baker himself.

      But Pelfrey has more upside than Corriea, Blacky, Duensing, Hendriks, DeVries, and Deduno . The only exceptions i'd say are Gibson and Worley for the 2013 staff.

      Now if AAron Hicks starts off in AAA .....for a minumum 3 months i'd be a happy guy heading into 2013...with maybe 1 more Pitcher and a little competition for T-Money Plouffe at 3B.
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      Pelfrey was once talked about as the centerpiece for the Johan Santana deal back in 2007 / 08 .

      Instead we took Humber / Gomez/ Guerra and Mulvey.
      But i remember preferring Pelfrey to at least Humber and possibly Mulvey as well. Turns out they're all basically the same pitcher with the exception of Mulvey and Guerra who look like quad A guys.
    1. SCBackroads's Avatar
      SCBackroads -
      He certainly can log the innings. Also on the bright side, the Twins don't need to add a Tommy John surgery into the contract negotiations as a benny because he's already got one. [insert rim shot] As long as the search is not over for more, I approve of this signing.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      I like this signing by itself, but in context, it is a bit of a reminder that Scot Baker wasn't re-signed. He's the one guy I wanted out of this group and he signed awfully cheap compared with the free-agent crop. He wasn't signed because someone thought they could do better. They couldn't.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Good article, Nick. Taken by itself, there's nothing wrong with this signing and there does seem to be some potential for upside (of course, there's also potential for downside but that's the whole point of taking a flier).

      It appears that Ryan's approach to building a starting staff is now the same as the Twins traditional approach to building a buillpen -- just get enough options and something will work out. It has worked most of the time for the Twins BP but there have been some notable exceptions. I guess we'll see whether it works for building a starting staff.

      I just want to see some action on the remaining $15-$25m that is available to him this offseason. Either purchase some assets that might be helpful down the road or publicly commit to carrying over that money for future use. Either the team needs to abide by its own 50+% policy or they need to publicly acknowledge that they have abandoned it. No spin on this, Mr. St. Peter.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I guess I agree with most everyone else. It's not a bad signing and could work out but I'd like to see the FO do a little bit better, too.

      I think our defense in center field will be good, no matter who gets the job out of ST. Mastro, Hicks and Benson should all be plus defenders out there. I'm assuming Carroll starts at second. I have no idea who gets the job at short but hopefully we have a glove guy up the middle, since I'm pretty sure he won't hit.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      This is a decent signing. If he makes it fine, if he looks real bad the cost is not super high. Much better than Corriea
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfaninsaudi View Post
      Another awesome signing!! And no I'm not joking. I <3 Terry Ryan!!!
      Um, the other being Correia?
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