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  • One pitcher the Minnesota Twins should sell high

    It is a weekend series with the Yankees away from the All-Star break, and it is obvious that the 2013 version of the Minnesota Twins is not much better than the 2012; understandably, they should be "sellers" before the fast-approaching trade deadline. Several players, like Justin Morneau, Josh Willingham, even Trevor Plouffe and Glen Perkins have been mentioned as potential "trade bait". I strongly believe that non-contending teams with plenty of faults should rebuild by trading players in the last year of their contracts and trade veterans or players in their late 20s at the peak of their value ("selling high".)


    Of the aforementioned, only Justin Morneau (last contract season) and Glen Perkins (value peak, plus friendly contract) fit the bill. I would like to examine whether there are other potential players the Twins should think about trading, based on peak value.

    I have to mention the Twins have been extremely poor at trading players at the peak of their value. Instead, they tend to sell low or give away. For every Bobby Kielty, AJ Pierzynski and Denard Span (3 examples of players sold high,) there is an army of Delmon Young, Fransisco Liriano, Jose Mijares, Kevin Slowey, Alex Burnett, Joe Nathan, Nick Blackburn, Mike Cuddyer, Carl Pavano etc. who just rode into the sunset. Selling high and selling impending free agents is how good teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays, keep themselves competitive year after year.

    So the Twins should trade Justin Morneau and Glen Perkins (but not give them away). Anyone else who, according to this formula, should be a candidate?

    Enter Casey Fien.

    Casey Fien will turn 30 this October and arguably he is at the apex of his value for his career. He has pitched in 42 games (36.2 innings), struck out 40 and walked 7 (2 intentionally), has a 3.19 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 5.7 K/BB and a minuscule 0.79 WHIP. Last season he became a reliable fixture in the Twins' pen in the second half, appearing in 35 games (36.2 innings), striking out 32 and walking 9 (4 intentionally), with a tiny 2.06 ERA, and a 0.97 WHIP.



    Why trade him? At first glance, he appears to be a pitcher capable of taking over the closer's role from Glen Perkins . Why not go that route? Here are the reasons:


    • He has been pitching over his head. This season his BABIP is .207; last season it was .229. This is not sustainable and expect a Diamond-like regression once balls start to go through.
    • His numbers are better than his stuff. He is mainly a fastball and cutter/slider pitcher with an occasional slurve he uses as a change of pace. His fastball is in the low nineties and the cutter in the high eighties. This season he lost has 2-3 mph of velocity on all his offerings. I do not want to speculate on the reason.
    • RH middle relievers are the easiest players to replace. The Twins have a plethora of 6th starter/AAAA starters. It is very possible that conversion to the pen will have a Glen Perkins-like effect for them.


    So I would add another name for the Twins to shop, that of (the Mighty) Casey Fien.

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    Originally posted at The Tenth Inning Stretch
    This article was originally published in blog: One pitcher the Minnesota Twins should sell high started by Thrylos
    Comments 20 Comments
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      "I have to mention the Twins have been extremely poor at trading players at the peak of their value. Instead, they tend to sell low or give away."

      Good observations here. Fien and anyone else that has value and doesn't factor in to the 2016 plan should go. I'd keep Mauer, Arcia, Hicks, and Gibson and take any reasonable offers for anyone else. I once thought there was a lot of upside in this lineup but it's bad...especially with runners on base.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      I have a hard time believing, if all the facts were known, the Twins are extremely poor at trading players at the peak of their value. Easy to say, difficult and time consuming to prove in comparison to their peers. I get a lot of my information from Baseball America, and continue to believe as they do, that the Twins are a well run organization.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      My thought was that Fien is just a really good pitcher that we should hang on to.
      Those BABIP rates are amazing and, I agree, cannot be sustainable.

      Good points, thry.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by troyhobbs View Post
      "I'd keep Mauer, Arcia, Hicks, and Gibson and take any reasonable offers for anyone else. I once thought there was a lot of upside in this lineup but it's bad...especially with runners on base.
      I would go further--I would trade anybody. Our prospects (Sano, Buxton, etc.) tend to be focused on our strong areas--OF and 1B. I would only trade one of Hicks, Arcia, and Parmalee for a good SS, 2B or SP. Mauer with his contract will not bring much--so the odds of trading him are small...but if I could get a good SS or SP I would trade him.

      The problem is none of our other guys will bring much back...
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      How valuable is Fien, though? I mean, he has been freely available to every MLB team several times already in his career. He was apparently released by the Astros in August 2011 and didn't even sign with the Twins for 4 months. Maybe TR can get lucky and get a Lew Ford for Hector Carrasco type deal, but I wouldn't count on it.

      Otherwise, I say you might as well keep him. He isn't even arb eligible until after 2015, so if he does maintain a decent performance, he's at least super-cheap for the next few years.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      The difficulty in trading set up men is that every struggling team has a pitcher in their pen pitching well. The supply brings down the value.

      Mike Adams brought back a couple of top 300 guys a few years ago, but he had just put up a string of 3.5 seasons and around 200 innings with an ERA under 2. The Twins don't have that in Burton or Fien.

      Last year set up men Broxton, Mujica, and Delabar were traded at the deadline.

      Broxton brought back JC Sulbaran (never a top 10 team prospect, but in the next 10) and Donnie Joseph.

      Mujica brought back Zack Cox (former top 100 since designated for assignment and outrighted to AA)

      Delabar brought back Eric Thames (major league 4th OF)

      Getting a Sulbaran and Joseph could be a great deal. Sulbaran was a C+ starting pitcher prospect and Joseph could turn into the next Fien or Burton. It is also likely that neither will have a significant major league career.

      Trying to turn around a falling former top 100 prospect like Cox could be worth the gamble.

      None of the three is likely to have the major league career of Burton or Fien. Some team will think there is enough upside in the return to take the risk. Will the Twins be that team? Should the Twins be that team? With Burton and Fien under control next year, I would would think there is more value in keeping them.

      If the Twins don't accept this level deal it won't be productive to hold out for more, the offering club will just find another team to take the offer. The supply is too large.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I have no problem with trading Fien, but as others have said what are you getting back. The idea that you trade guys at their peak value is a good one, but there are 2 things that often keep that from happening. One is having a similar replacement. If the Twins have someone who can do what Fien is doing(and there is no reason to think he can't keep doing it for couple of seasons) well sure you can trade him. The 2nd thing is again, what are you getting back. In the Twins case, they maybe looking for a prospect, but if all he is going to be is Casey Fien in 3 years, do you really need that?


      You said it yourself, middle relievers are rather easy to replace. Nobody is going give anything but a rather flawed prospect with some upside, or maybe a AAAA guy, sort of what Fien was till this year. You may want to do a deal like that, but if you believe the Twins could contend in the next year or 2, you might want to keep Fien instead.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      If the right trade is offered, no one should be off the table. That being said, not a lot of lopsided trade ability in this crew...
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Tonkin is ready to replace someone in the bullpen so if a pitcher is dealt then we have their replacement so it depends on what we get. I would think that Duensing would be the more likely trade candidate as he is likely to cost more and might be more valuable in the trade market. I would think the Twins would want an A ball level prospect that they like in exchange for one of them. I don't have any names to speculate but getting talented A ballers has been a specialty of TR.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I particularly enjoy this quote:

      "I have to mention the Twins have been extremely poor at trading players at the peak of their value."

      Followed by three examples where they not only sold high but absolutely hosed their trade partner.

      And then half of the examples of their failure to sell high were players key to their competitive years. It's tough to sell the fanbase on trading both a Francisco Liriano and a Carl Pavano the year after a playoff run.

      I don't think the Twins are very good at selling high on players. In fact, I think they miss some pretty obvious opportunities to sell high on players who won't maintain their performance level.

      But "extremely poor"? No. Not even close.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      What teams sell players at their high points with reasonable contracts and control in the future?

      I don't think it will be a long list beyond the Rays. The Twins are probably loser to the top of that list than the bottom.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      What teams sell players at their high points with reasonable contracts and control in the future?

      I don't think it will be a long list beyond the Rays. The Twins are probably loser to the top of that list than the bottom.
      Agreed. I'd say, at worst, the Twins are middle of the pack when it comes to selling players at the right time. They miss big on some players but they also hit big on others.

      The A's are also pretty good at selling high. Probably close to the Rays in that regard.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      A couple of points regarding Fein:

      1) He's done this 2 years in a row. While SSS is a bigger factor for relievers, at what point do we recognize that perhaps the talent is there? I have a tough time believing that a guy who's peripherals scream dominant is simply getting lucky.

      2) The Twins love fastball/slider guys in their pens. They've been doing it as long as I can remember, and they've had (for most of the last 15 years at least) very good pens.

      3) I think both Fein and Perkins are highly valued this year, but there's a big difference. Fein hasn't been locked up through arb, whereas Perk has... and of course Perk has the coveted "proven closer" title.

      I think a better strategy is as follows:

      1) If the market permits, trade Perk for some high upside talent.
      2) Lock Fein up on a similar deal to Perk, which could be done if the closer role is done in a committee type situation for the remainder of this year.
      3) Install Fein as closer starting in 2014.
      4) Flip Fein in 2014 with the plan of having Tonkin be the official closer for the next wave.

      I think the Twins will benefit far more from that as they will likely pick up some nice prospects to add to the next wave.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Fein has minimal trade value. Best case you trade him for a guy whose reasonable upside is what Fein is doing now.

      Perkins is the guy at peak value. And that's about the only guy on the team that is at peak value.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Agreed. I'd say, at worst, the Twins are middle of the pack when it comes to selling players at the right time. They miss big on some players but they also hit big on others.

      The A's are also pretty good at selling high. Probably close to the Rays in that regard.
      One other thing in common for the Ray's and the A's. They have terrible attendance numbers in spite of success on the field.

      The poor attendance and revenue may force the need to trade when player hits arbitration. It might also be true that trading off good players every winter might hurt ticket sales.

      For the most part they also trade peak in the winter and not during the summer.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      One other thing in common for the Ray's and the A's. They have terrible attendance numbers in spite of success on the field.

      The poor attendance and revenue may force the need to trade when player hits arbitration. It might also be true that trading off good players every winter might hurt ticket sales.

      For the most part they also trade peak in the winter and not during the summer.
      Yep. If the A's and Rays had more money, they'd surely keep some of their good players longer. After all, the goal here is winning and good players win games.

      There is also a PR aspect to this that hardcore fans tend to ignore. The casual fan doesn't enjoy seeing a revolving door of players.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      Fein has minimal trade value. Best case you trade him for a guy whose reasonable upside is what Fein is doing now.

      Perkins is the guy at peak value. And that's about the only guy on the team that is at peak value.
      This. There really isn't a market for Fien. Probably better to trade a different reliever and let Fien fill the role vacated.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I particularly enjoy this quote:

      "I have to mention the Twins have been extremely poor at trading players at the peak of their value."

      Followed by three examples where they not only sold high but absolutely hosed their trade partner.

      And then half of the examples of their failure to sell high were players key to their competitive years. It's tough to sell the fanbase on trading both a Francisco Liriano and a Carl Pavano the year after a playoff run.

      I don't think the Twins are very good at selling high on players. In fact, I think they miss some pretty obvious opportunities to sell high on players who won't maintain their performance level.

      But "extremely poor"? No. Not even close.
      And the other half were guys that never made sense to trade until after the fact or had no value once they reached the majors.

      The worst type od hindsight is to imply they should have traded a prearb pitcher because he eventually faded away, especially when the team is trying to compete. Those are the guys a tean wants to build around not trade.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Yep. If the A's and Rays had more money, they'd surely keep some of their good players longer. After all, the goal here is winning and good players win games.

      There is also a PR aspect to this that hardcore fans tend to ignore. The casual fan doesn't enjoy seeing a revolving door of players.
      The A's and Rays also trade stud pitchers two years from free agency. Twins haven't exactly bern swimming in those types of pitchers.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      2) Lock Fein up on a similar deal to Perk, which could be done if the closer role is done in a committee type situation for the remainder of this year.
      I like all of your points, except this one -- there's really no need to "lock up" Fien. According to Baseball-Reference, he won't even be arb-eligible until after 2015 (although I wonder if they are accounting for super-2 possibilities there, but even then, he won't make much in the first year of arb anyway).

      Lots of relievers go year-to-year -- Guerrier did it, Crain basically did it. I don't think most closers make that much in arbitration either, outside of the "superstar" closers (I think Papelbon got a big award years ago). By the time Fien could be making any serious money, it would be 2017 and you'd likely have more options to replace him.
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