Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • What To Do With Mike Pelfrey?

    With six innings of one-run ball against the Angels on Wednesday, Mike Pelfrey lowered his ERA to 5.15 ERA, the lowest it has been since April 9. During the first couple months of the season, Pelfrey was pretty clearly the worst starting pitcher in baseball, at least among those to hold onto their jobs. Not surprising in light of the fact that May 1st marked his one-year anniversary from Tommy John surgery.

    Looking at historical timelines for recovery from the notorious procedure, Pelfrey's initial struggles were to be expected. But his improvement since the start of June has been stark. Don't take my word for it; check out the numbers side-by-side:

    April and May June and July
    Games Started 11 7
    Quality Starts 2 5
    ERA 6.66 3.35
    K/BB 26/19 29/9
    Opp AVG/OBP/SLG .332/.387/.521 .263/.308/.363

    The contrast is remarkable. In April and May, Pelfrey was a hittable mess, almost incapable of getting through six innings. Since then, however, he's been extremely solid, completing six or more innings in all but one start (in which he went 5 2/3) and consistently giving his team a good chance to win. It seems safe to say that he's gotten over the hump.

    Unfortunately, the turnaround may have come too late to help the Twins. My expectation from the beginning was that Pelfrey would start slow and improve in the latter part of the season, but as a player on a one-year contract with a non-competitive team (in other words, a trade candidate), that's a problem because potential trade partners will assess his value based on his performance in the first half.

    Pelfrey is almost certainly among the commodities Terry Ryan is shopping with the deadline rapidly approaching, but will other teams focus on his steady performance these past couple months or his numbers for the season as a whole, like an ERA that ranks as the sixth-worst in the majors, or a strikeout rate that is fourth-worst?

    Because he missed time with an injury in late June, Pelfrey hasn't had quite enough time to rebuild his value and now he'll have just one more start before next Wednesday's trade deadline. It would seem that the market for him might not be especially hot, and for his part, Pelf says he would be "crushed" if he were to be dealt.

    So what's the alternative? Let him continue taking the mound every fifth day in August and September and then use his improved second half as grounds to score a healthy contract in free agency?

    Or should the Twins take a proactive approach and look to lock the veteran up with a contract extension before season's end?

    Back in May, that notion would have been laughable, but Pelfrey has undeniably been a high-quality fixture over the past two months and, in light of his circumstances, it's not hard to believe his transformation has been legitimate. He's still only 29 years old, and while he was by no means a dominant pitcher in New York prior to the elbow injury, he was a workhorse who occasionally produced stellar seasons.

    The Twins are trying to rebuild around youth, but the disheartening developments this year for Scott Diamond and Vance Worley have cast serious doubt on Minnesota's ability to piece together a workable rotation configured with internal parts. We all know the likelihood of Ryan fishing for impact arms in free agency.

    Of course, Pelfrey might be eager to play out the rest of the year and test the market, since he's never really had a chance to do so (last year was his first foray into free agency and obviously he had much going against him). Then again, if his numerous quotes about enjoying his time in Minnesota and really wanting to stay are to be believed, the righty might be open to agreeable terms.

    With the way the free agent pitching market has spiraled out of control in recent years, and with the uncertainty surrounding young hurlers that the Twins hoped might figure into their 2013 rotation (Diamond, Worley, Alex Meyer, Trevor May), if Pelfrey can be signed for anything resembling a discount, Ryan would probably be crazy not to do it.
    This article was originally published in blog: What To Do With Mike Pelfrey? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 98 Comments
    1. raindog's Avatar
      raindog -
      I don't know if I want the Twins to resign a pitcher with a 5.1 career strikeout rate who will be 30 next year. I guess a two year deal is not a big risk, but anything more than that? No way.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      DeLaRosa didn't get that contract based on the stats that you posted.

      I was looking at WAR in the comparison of the two pitchers. The four years before Pelfrey's surgery (combined WAR of 6.0) and the four years before DeLaRosa's contract was signed (combined WAR of 4.9). That also compares similar-aged seasons.

      And if you want to talk about the two-year-post-surgery ERA+ of 150 that DeLaRosa has right now (a career high), then we should look forward to the two-year-post-surgery Mike Pelfrey.

      You could make an argument that DeLaRosa is much more a strikeout pitcher, though. And I couldn't argue against that.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      (It was also around this time last year that I floated the idea that the Twins could make the qualifying offer to Liriano... it would have been insane to do at the time - and there is no way I would have after the season - but he'd look okay in a Twins uniform for $13m right now.)
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I think they should attempt to re-sign him. There are too many question marks in next year's rotation, so I think it's important to have a couple veterans. Pelfrey is interesting because, while I agree that he's a back end starter, I think he has the ability to pitch like a 3 or better performance wise (for a season). I never really turned on Pelfrey this season because I was aware of the injury and most of his starts still gave us a chance to win. 5IP 4ER was the infamous line.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      (It was also around this time last year that I floated the idea that the Twins could make the qualifying offer to Liriano... it would have been insane to do at the time - and there is no way I would have after the season - but he'd look okay in a Twins uniform for $13m right now.)
      It would be nice to have him right now for sure. The problem with that though, is that he knows he's making $13m. I swear, give a player a big deal and he doesn't care how he performs (<-unfair generalization, but seemingly true).
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Pelfrey's improvement and Liriano's career path are examples of "you never know". We are not sure whether Pelf will improve, revert, or plateau. I do believe he can be pretty good and that the Twins need to add pitchers, including some veterans.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      DeLaRosa didn't get that contract based on the stats that you posted.

      I was looking at WAR in the comparison of the two pitchers. The four years before Pelfrey's surgery (combined WAR of 6.0) and the four years before DeLaRosa's contract was signed (combined WAR of 4.9). That also compares similar-aged seasons.

      And if you want to talk about the two-year-post-surgery ERA+ of 150 that DeLaRosa has right now (a career high), then we should look forward to the two-year-post-surgery Mike Pelfrey.

      You could make an argument that DeLaRosa is much more a strikeout pitcher, though. And I couldn't argue against that.
      Not to quibble, but there is nothing in Pelf's career to suggest he will ever post an ERA+ close to 150. (And again, I like Pelf, and hope the Twins consider extending him). And regarding de la Rosa, his 2 best years were in 09 and 10, leading up to the contract that he signed in December of 2010. His combined BR WAR for 2009-11 was 5.2. Pelfrey's combined BR WAR for 09-11 is 2.8. (Admittedly the ages don't line up, but Pelfrey's career has trended down since 2008, his peak year of performance, while de la Rosa is trending up.) (And we both agree that de la Rosa has better stuff). The one thing that might justify Pelfrey getting more money would be the run from 08-11, that demonstrated his workhose nature- where he averaged around 195 IP/yr. This year, Pelfrey is currently on pace for 154 IP. If it can intuited that he will return to 195 IP annually, I still don't see how he commands 3/$33, but I could see the argument that some clubs might make to sign him. Would the Twins be willing to go to 3 years and dollars in that range? Past history makes it seem unlikely.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      (It was also around this time last year that I floated the idea that the Twins could make the qualifying offer to Liriano... it would have been insane to do at the time - and there is no way I would have after the season - but he'd look okay in a Twins uniform for $13m right now.)
      We were all regarded as insane for even thinking just this last year. Regardless, the "good riddance" contingent still got it wrong. A guy with that kind of talent, as exasperating as he was for most of his Twins career, you just can't let go for 2 C players in return.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      If Pelfrey continues to pitch like he has this month the final results may resemble is 08 and 10 seasons. That puts him at around 2.5 WAR. $13 million wouuld be about right. If he pitches like 09 and 11, then move the decimal point left one position and multiply by 3.1. That number might be closer to what he should get, from another team. It will be interesting to watch a salary drive.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      [QUOTE=jokin;144677]there is little evidence to suggest that Pelfrey would ever post an ERA+ of 150.QUOTE]
      If I understand the math correctly, an ERA+ would usually fall somewhere near 3. There are very few pitcher that can maintain that level.
      Anabel Sanchez for his career is at 114. Look at the payday he got.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      If I understand the math correctly, an ERA+ would usually fall somewhere near 3. There are very few pitcher that can maintain that level.
      Anabel Sanchez for his career is at 114. Look at the payday he got.
      You're completely misunderstanding the use of the ERA+ number in context with the discussion. It was hypothesized that Pelfrey could possibly put up post-TJ numbers similar to de la Rosa's ERA+ of 150 that he has posted thus far in 2013. Nothing was discussed about his career ERA+ or what Sanchez got for his career ERA+.

      The trend of his ERA+ suggested that his contract deal post-2010 was why the Rockies might consider making the deal with de la Rosa as a good bet. Here's de la Rosa's ERA+ trend since 2007: 07/79, 08/95, 09/108, 10/110, 11/130, 13/150. Pelfrey's career is far more checkered and inconsistent, with only 2 years in 6 with an ERA+ over 100.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      He's a free agent--trade him--and if you like what he's done in 2013, make a solid contract offer in the off-season.
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      It's nice to see some others appreciate Pelfrey. I liked what I saw in spring training, and knew it would take awhile for him to settle in, as did he, and the Twins. I'm stickin' with he'll be our best pitcher the remainder of the year. As he probably will be next year, so let's get him signed on the dotted line. Do it quick!
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Mike Pelfrey has been gradually regaining his pitching form all season. The best thing the Twins could do right now is offer him a 3-year contract at a price they can afford, before he finished the second half with an ERA that puts his future services out of reach.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      You're completely misunderstanding the use of the ERA+ number in context with the discussion. It was hypothesized that Pelfrey could possibly put up post-TJ numbers similar to de la Rosa's ERA+ of 150 that he has posted thus far in 2013. Nothing was discussed about his career ERA+ or what Sanchez got for his career ERA+.

      The trend of his ERA+ suggested that his contract deal post-2010 was why the Rockies might consider making the deal with de la Rosa as a good bet. Here's de la Rosa's ERA+ trend since 2007: 07/79, 08/95, 09/108, 10/110, 11/130, 13/150. Pelfrey's career is far more checkered and inconsistent, with only 2 years in 6 with an ERA+ over 100.
      While the fact might be lost on the fan, I think any baseball GM could realize the odds of Derosa continuing as a 150 ERA+ pitcher are slim. The 130listed was over a very partial season. The information on Sanchez was to provide context at what level career wise a fairly decent pitcher would have for an ERA + at a nearly similar age , just to jar you a little bit to see that the 150 is not sustainable. I'm done with you on this subject.
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      Being a Boras client he is not going to sign an extension now. He will hit free agency. I do not think that De la Rosa's contract is a perfect comparison because Colorado has generally had to overpay pitchers to come or stay there. But this is a no brainer. Twins desparately need pitchers. Combine Blackburn's 5+ million with Pelfrey's 4 million that he is making,that is plenty enough to sign him and still leaves the Twins at this years low payroll level.
    1. iastfan112's Avatar
      iastfan112 -
      Is Scott Boras extension adverse, yes but there is a good number of his players that have signed extensions before, usually because the player likes his current team and situation(Weaver, Madsen, Andrus). If he'd truly be crushed to leave a deal would get done I have no doubt.

      As far as trade value goes, Carl Pavano strikes me as a player with a similar situation and results. That netted the Indians a C/borderline C+ prospect who had excellent stats but underwhelming stuff(Yohan Pino). Value in that trade was probably slightly reduced due to it being a waiver trade, cutting the suitors down to 1.
    1. Sleestax's Avatar
      Sleestax -
      The Twins will be spending this offseason...let's get a top pitcher there because we have a ton of middle staff already.
    1. Sleestax's Avatar
      Sleestax -
      After looking at the top Free Agent Pitchers I changed my mind...sign Pelflry for 3 years and 18 milliion. Everybody else is 35 years old plus....
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by chuchadoro View Post
      Trade Correia for anything (though I doubt anyone would want to pay his $5m salary next year) and extend Pelfrey with Correia's money plus a few million.

      Who am I kidding? Cut payroll another $30m and roll with Gibson and a herd of AAAA donkeys. I'm sure the savings will be reinvested when the Twins return to competitiveness, right? Right!?!??
      Kevin Correia does have value as a back-rotation innings eater. On a team with good offense he could win half his games, pitching regularly into or past the seventh inning. That kind of production is a lifesaver for a team's bull pen, while allowing your top starters to get your team above .500.

      Mike Pelfrey is now healthy and pitching well. He's a good mlb starter with excellent form and great work habits. You want a veteran like him to show the other guys how to be a professional. Sign him to a 3-year deal at the market rate. Pelfrey can be a team leader for your pitching staff.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.