• 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. iastfan112's Avatar
      iastfan112 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      One way or another, this thread will be fun to look back on in a year or two.
      Agreed. I think the people advocating a qualifying offer are nuts, Pelfrey isn't as good as a Burhle or a Sanchez, nor will he have the two excellent back to back seasons Lohse had(and he still had trouble finding a contract. I find the idea of a 3 year 6-7 million contract intriguing. Yes its a gamble but that sort of contract, even if Pelfrey sucks, doesn't hamstring the franchise.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Quote Originally Posted by raindog View Post
      Even if he returns to his best self, he won't be a huge loss. He was never a great pitcher. Odds are he won't become one in his age 30+ seasons.
      Well, neither was Dickey when the Twins cut him loose. The guy had never had an ERA under 5 until his season with the Twins. He goes to the Mets and boom, 3 great seasons culminating in a Cy Young.

      Pelfrey throwing mid 90s with sink on a rebuilt arm sounds like a chance for success to me, especially considering he is only 29.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Before TJS Pelfrey was a guy who would give you close to 200 IP a year (Average 196 the four years prior)

      If you are going to shy away from every pitcher who has had TJS then your pickings frankly are gonna be real slim....
      Instead we are going to give three year contract to guys having a poor season but has a string of 4 OK starts. For his career, he is credited with 1 WAR per every 27 starts. That's a value of about 5 million a year if he stays healthy. He needs to not only show he is healthy, he needs to show he is better than his career numbers. He needs to show he can throw at least 7 innings in his good starts. It would be foolish to give him a multiyear contract. There will be enough 1 WAR pitchers available in the winter.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Yeesh, a qualifying offer? No thanks. I really don't care if the Twins overspend for one year of a guy but that seems like an absurd waste. One should be able to get Pelfrey for two years for not much more than $13m.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by iastfan112 View Post
      Agreed. I think the people advocating a qualifying offer are nuts, Pelfrey isn't as good as a Burhle or a Sanchez, nor will he have the two excellent back to back seasons Lohse had(and he still had trouble finding a contract. I find the idea of a 3 year 6-7 million contract intriguing. Yes its a gamble but that sort of contract, even if Pelfrey sucks, doesn't hamstring the franchise.
      I'm glad someone said it, because I've been trying to say that as nicely as possible.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      My guess is that he is an August waiver. The Twins appear to me to be "in a cost-cutting mode" and will likely have a rotation of: Corriera, Deduno, Diamond, Gibson plus one from the minor leagues. I really don't think they will spend in free agency this off season--and definately not for one of the "best available pitchers".
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I think the big "IF" Pelfrey continues on this pace and has an ERA in the 3.5 range for June - Oct has gotten lost in this thread. It probably won't happen, but if it does, 3 years would not surprise me with all of the TV revenue that will be spent on next year's FAs. He is now a pitcher in his prime so should we be greatly surprised if a GM thinks Pelfrey can deliver 200 innings/yr and an ERA right around 4.00. 3.72 in 2008 & 3.66 in 2010 and was off to his best start in 2012 when he was injured. Now, a year removed from TJ surgery he is a pitcher in his prime with enough history to convince someone he is a reasonable bet.

      My interpretation of what Jeremy suggested was that he would not accept a qualifying offer IF he continued on this pace because someone would offer a multi-year deal. It would be a risk but worth it if there was a reasonable chance he rejects it.
      I think the additional revenue will result in higher yearly salaries not additional years. As such perhaps Pelfrey will make $8M/year but still only get a 1-2 year deal (assuming of course he continues his 3.5ish ERA).

      Prime or not Pelfrey hasn't been a good pitcher. He's had a couple of good years as you point out but his other years have been really bad. He's had ERA+ of 81, 78 and 81(so far this year). He's never had a WHIP below 1.36 and his K/BB rate is 1.62 for his career. None of that screams "lock me up!!!" He is what he is, a 4/5th starter that will, hopefully, eat innings. Those guys don't get long term contracts. In short, half a season of good pitching wouldn't outweigh 4 seasons of mediocrity.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Get what you can now. This season is lost. To re-sign him, you will have to commit to multiple years, and NOTHING Pelfrey has ever done makes him worth multiple years. Sorry, folks, we just let a guy mend on our dime, but that was pretty obvious when we gave him a straight one-year deal. Get what you can NOW.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      Well, neither was Dickey when the Twins cut him loose. The guy had never had an ERA under 5 until his season with the Twins. He goes to the Mets and boom, 3 great seasons culminating in a Cy Young.

      Pelfrey throwing mid 90s with sink on a rebuilt arm sounds like a chance for success to me, especially considering he is only 29.
      Do you think that Pelfrey is going to learn to throw a knuckleball?
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      I think the additional revenue will result in higher yearly salaries not additional years. As such perhaps Pelfrey will make $8M/year but still only get a 1-2 year deal (assuming of course he continues his 3.5ish ERA).

      Prime or not Pelfrey hasn't been a good pitcher. He's had a couple of good years as you point out but his other years have been really bad. He's had ERA+ of 81, 78 and 81(so far this year). He's never had a WHIP below 1.36 and his K/BB rate is 1.62 for his career. None of that screams "lock me up!!!" He is what he is, a 4/5th starter that will, hopefully, eat innings. Those guys don't get long term contracts. In short, half a season of good pitching wouldn't outweigh 4 seasons of mediocrity.
      I am hoping he performs great and then being optimistic on the market for him because that compensation round pick would be REALLY nice. Part of my thinking is that Boras is going to push hard on the years with Pelfry being 29 years old.


      Guthrie seems like a pretty good comp. He got 3/25M after posting an ERA of 4.76 and in previous years Guthrie and Pelfrey were pretty comparable. Seriously, am I missing something here. I want to have hope for that comp pick.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I am hoping he performs great and then being optimistic on the market for him because that compensation round pick would be REALLY nice. Part of my thinking is that Boras is going to push hard on the years with Pelfry being 29 years old.


      Guthrie seems like a pretty good comp. He got 3/25M after posting an ERA of 4.76 and in previous years Guthrie and Pelfrey were pretty comparable. Seriously, am I missing something here. I want to have hope for that comp pick.
      What compensation round pick?--there won't be one!
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      Guthrie seems like a pretty good comp. He got 3/25M after posting an ERA of 4.76 and in previous years Guthrie and Pelfrey were pretty comparable. Seriously, am I missing something here. I want to have hope for that comp pick.
      Scot Boras would have to be a complete idiot to take 3/25 over 1/13. He'll know that no one will give up the pick so he'll take the better deal without even thinking about it.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I am hoping he performs great and then being optimistic on the market for him because that compensation round pick would be REALLY nice. Part of my thinking is that Boras is going to push hard on the years with Pelfry being 29 years old.


      Guthrie seems like a pretty good comp. He got 3/25M after posting an ERA of 4.76 and in previous years Guthrie and Pelfrey were pretty comparable. Seriously, am I missing something here. I want to have hope for that comp pick.
      Guthrie has been a better pitcher than Pelfrey. He's had WHIP as low as 1.161, hasn't had TJ surgery and had 6 straight seasons as an innings eater before signing his contract. His ERA+, at 102 for his career, has been much better than Pelfrey's He also signed with the Royals who were in "win now" mode which the Twins certainly are not.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      What compensation round pick?--there won't be one!
      I thought we get a pick if we make a qualifying offer. What's the rule?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I thought we get a pick if we make a qualifying offer. What's the rule?
      This has been addressed by others.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I just wanted to share a few thoughts.

      1, Pelfry had just mastered the Cutter and added to arsenal right before he got injured. He looked to be really improving. Small sample size I know.
      2. His k rate has been 5.7 which is slightly below the 6 per nine I thought he had been averaging his last 50 innings or so. So no point here.
      3. Pelfry really wants to be here so I guarantee that will show up in his next contract if he signs with the Twins again. They will have a competitive offer but it won't be the best one either. I think a 2 year 15-16 million makes sense with maybe an option year based on innings pitched.
      4 so the only variable left is how Pelfry will finish out the year and what other options do the Twins have? Right now I would only pencil in Dedunno and Corriea (stupid contract) into next years rotation with likely Gibson too. So we need 2 more pitchers possibly 3. I would be happy with the Twins signing Pelfry and 1 other starter maybe Hughes this offseason. That would give us the following options:

      1. Hughes
      2. Pelfry
      3. DeDunno
      4. Gibson
      5. Corriea/ Diamond
      with Albers, Meyer, and May in AAA.

      That would give us options (Possibly too many to go and sign Hughes now that I think about it) and Corriea could get bumped when Meyer or May is ready. So it will be fun to see how the rest of the season plays out and how the Twins decide to proceed for next season and beyond.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I do not see Ryan blocking May and Meyer with a multi year signing.....meaning the FA add I see next year looks depressingly like this year. Still hoping to be proven wrong, of course. I do not know, but I think Pelfrey is going to have a strong finish, and sign elsewhere for 3/35 or so.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I do not see Ryan blocking May and Meyer with a multi year signing.....meaning the FA add I see next year looks depressingly like this year. Still hoping to be proven wrong, of course. I do not know, but I think Pelfrey is going to have a strong finish, and sign elsewhere for 3/35 or so.
      My first wish is they get something decen in trade for him. We will have to see if he keeps it going through the remainder of the year. If so, we will have to have a guess Pelfrey's contract poll here. There sure is a wide variance in what people think he will get. If he finishes strong, you can bet Boras is going to be selling the Pelfrey of the next 3-4 years is going to be the Pelfrey that was great until he went out last year and Pelfrey we are seeing now and hopefully the remainder of the year.
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