• Twins Must Decide When, Not If, Glen Perkins & Jared Burton Are Available

    Some spring training moves are bearing fruit. The question is when they will be most ripe?

    Glen Perkins hasn't been especially effective this year, but he still profiles as possible closer long term, with well over a strikeout per inning. Even better, this spring he signed a deal that keeps his salary team-controlled through 2016 at a level considerably below that of a closer.

    So how should the Twins play that? On the one hand, they could trade him now to a team that finds a left-handed reliever (with closer potential) especially appealing. Or they could turn him into a closer later the year and (provided he excels and stays healthy) he becomes even more valuable. Or, I suppose, the team could hang onto him in the hope that the next competitive Twins team could still have him around. But that is by far the riskiest of the choices.

    The Twins flexibility is enhanced by another spring addition. Jared Burton has been more effective than Perkins (or closer Matt Capps) this year, despite handling earlier innings. He also has quite a bit of history being an effective reliever from before he joined the Twins. Finally, with 28 strikeouts and just 3 walks in 26 innings this year, he also looks like a possible closer.

    Burton has another year after this one before he turns a free agent, and he just turned 31 years old. If the Twins were to ponder trading away Perkins any time over the next year, they could prepare by putting Burton in the same position that they put Perkins in spring training. Namely, offer him a long-term deal at a setup man's salary which puts him first in line when there is an opening at closer.

    Or, they could just shop him around at the trade deadline. Or I suppose they could keep him as Perkins insurance.

    In some ways, the road block here is Capps. With his closer role, he's blocking two guys who are probably going to be more effective. If the Twins can trade him - even if it is for very little - it allows them to increase the value of at least Perkins and put Burton in an heir apparent role, providing incentive for a long-term deal. And if he becomes the closer, and they mine the minors/waiver wire for yet another arm, they can move him....

    This is how a non-competitive team can, fairly quickly, add core talent to their system. The team can afford to give relievers a chance to rediscover their stuff. They can afford to invest innings in them, even high leverage innings. And until the core pieces of a competitive team are in place, they can afford to let other competitive teams fight over these developed assets.

    The question isn't if they should do it. The question is when the fruit should be picked.

    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Must Decide When, Not If, Glen Perkins & Jared Burton Are Available started by John Bonnes
    Comments 45 Comments
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      I'll give my two cents on the Perkins side of this equation. If you can get good+ value for him - why not? I have to admit that I am impressed with how he dug himself out of the Twins Doghouse and as a reliever he has pretty much proven he is strikeout/power pitcher. If you can get a good+ return for him go for it... anything less than that would be foolish. He is the only pitcher we have except for Liriano who can strike out hitters at a good clip.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Sometimes I wonder about the point of some your posts. This is one of them. Of course Perkins and or Burton are available, if someone blows you away. But, your post asumes that the Twins can't be competitive next year, or if they can be, there are replacements readily available for either or both. Neither, of these undiscussed but pertinent issues are addressed.

      So what if Perkins and Burton are tradeable, the question is whether trading either or both is a good idea, and you really don't address this. Clearly, in your mind, it is a good idea, but you don't explain why it is.

      Personally, I don't think quality late inning relievers are that readily available. Oh, there are a lot of guys who throw hard, and some have impressive strikeout numbers but there are too many 37 year olds plus with declining stuff, finding work in late innings, for me to believe that you just trade cheap quality guys, UNLESS, you've got someone to replace them.
    1. jlovren's Avatar
      jlovren -
      I'll give my two cents on the Perkins side of this equation. If you can get good+ value for him - why not? I have to admit that I am impressed with how he dug himself out of the Twins Doghouse and as a reliever he has pretty much proven he is strikeout/power pitcher. If you can get a good+ return for him go for it... anything less than that would be foolish. He is the only pitcher we have except for Liriano who can strike out hitters at a good clip.
      Unless we can get some seriously good value for either than we do not let our relievers go. With as bad as a pitching staff as we have we cannot afford to let our only strikeout pitcher go. They are at very friendly salary levels which will also help us out for the future as well.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Why would we trade Perkins? He has a very Team friendly contract and is locked up for the next four years. Are we going to get front line pitching prospects for him, probably not. You cannot turn around an Organization with B and C prospects. Why do so many people want the Twins to become the Kansas City Royals?
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I'm all in favor of trading anybody who can bring back good starting pitching prospects (or better yet, a proven starting pitcher).

      Except for last year's disastrous bullpen, the Twins have pretty consistently shown that they are able to put together a decent BP from minor leaguers, free agent pickups and the scrapheap (and do it at a reasonable price). I don't have any reason to doubt that the "Ryan/Gardenhire/Anderson/minor league pitching coaches group" will be able to maintain that tradition.

      Their success with the bullpen directly contrasts with a dearth of successful starting pitching. Something HAS to give. It's unrealistic to think that they are going to be able to put together a decent starting staff solely from FA pickups. If Perkins or Burton or Capps (or anyone else) has to be a part of a deal to get some "better than mediocre" starting pitching to Minnesota, then so be it.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      Sometimes I wonder about the point of some your posts. This is one of them. Of course Perkins and or Burton are available, if someone blows you away. But, your post asumes that the Twins can't be competitive next year, or if they can be, there are replacements readily available for either or both. Neither, of these undiscussed but pertinent issues are addressed.
      No, I don't think the Twins can be competitive, even in the AL Central, in 2013 because of their starting pitching. I see zero chance of them going and committing the dollars and years to a high impact starting pitcher that would be required. (And I wouldn't disagree with that philosophy.) The entire rotation - spots one through five - are question marks right now. I stop short of advocating completely blowing up the team, but I'm not necessarily opposed to that. But I believe there is no reason to hold onto relievers, even closers, because they might be valuable in 2014 or 2015. A team that can afford to invest innings in waiver pickups/farmhands/etc can find some effective relievers. It will cost them wins, but that's something they can afford to pay.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      If you sign Burton to a team friendly contract. Why would you trade him? I'm in the minority of opinion that our current core of players is almost good enough. We need 1 to 2 starting pitchers and maybe someone better than the .720 OPS we are getting from Doumit who is solid but not spectacular.

      Bullpen is good, defense overall is solid and offense has picked it up just holes in the rotation with everyone returning next year minus the pitching. The better question is how do we develop a solid rotation for cheep on the fly with trades, minor league signings, free agents. We could contend this year with another starter or 2 and probably next too.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Is it a given, that a large portion of the 25-30 million coming off the books next year, will be going into the Pohlad's pocket?
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Everyone on the team should be for sale. By the time this team is competitive again, 2014-2015, only Mauer is a given to still be around. Relievers are the easiest guys to replace in baseball and are the last thing you need if you are rebuilding.

      The problem is that Terry Ryan is so stupid he will probably try to trade FOR relievers to build the bullpen and will continue to believe this team can compete with its starting 5 who are similar to many AAA staffs.

      If you can get an A ball lottery ticket starting pitcher prospect for either you MUST pull the trigger. Any of the numerous failed SP's in the minors could addition for the vacant RP jobs and will likely do a decent job. Heck, Slama or Guerra may be better than either of these guys next year as relievers seem to go from all-star to independant leagues in 2 years.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Thank you John. Everyone should be on the table, this team needs lots of everything. Next years rotation right now would be Diamond, Blackburn and what?
    1. twinslover's Avatar
      twinslover -
      I don't care who they trade as long as the return is young starting pitching. Where is the Brad Radke of this decade? Personally I would like the Twins to keep Perkins and Burton. I don't particularly care for NoNeck, so like Bonnes said, if they can get something for him, do it and do it now.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      Next years rotation right now would be Diamond, Blackburn and what?
      Ugh... Blackburn would probably be the opening day starter. Follow him with Diamond, Hendriks and Walters. Best guess for the 5th starter - based on what's already in the organization - would be some combination of Swarzak, Duensing, Manship and/or De Vries, until Gibson is ready.

      And the next best prospect on the horizon is B.J. Hermsen, who doesn't strike out enough guys to rate as anything higher than a durable #4. (He's also only pitched a little over 60 innings at AA... so he's not exactly banging down the door.)
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      OK John, your post now makes more sense, not that I necessarily agree with your reasoning. The thing is Burton and/or Perkins could indeed potentially yield someone eventually useful. But, whoever the return is, he won't likely contribute anything for the next 3 years and maybe longer. Ryan has always been able to identify potentially useful players in trades, but the more useful a player potentially is, the farther away from the big leagues he is going to be. Neither Burton or Perkins is going to get you an immediate impact guy. In fact if you want a guy who might help you soon, he won't be much more valuable than Burton or Perkins.

      I think you probably hang on to both Perkins and Burton if you believe that adding 1 or 2 FA starters could make you a contender next year, and you are willing to pony up for some quality starters. I don't think the Twins are aiming 4-5 years down the road. They want to be competitive next year and probably strongly competitive the year after(2014).

      Trading useful parts for guys who won't/can't help till 2016 doesn't seem like the right plan to me.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I hope like hell the team has a plan for 2013 to get a top line starting pitcher that doesn't involve trading their "core"guys. If they had a competent rotation Twins would be in the hunt for a play-off spot.
      The Offense is good
      The Bullpen is above replacement level
      The defense is not bad
      The Starting pitching has been horrible.
      Add 1 or 2 decent Starters and this team is .500 and just 4-5 games out from first.

      I would be disappointed if they blew it all up for some prospects unless they could get guys who could be Top-Line pitchers or All stars. And nobody on the MLB Team is going to give them that kind of return. So I would be against these moves because the type of return probably won't be there.

      If there is one thing I hope they learned from the Bill Smith Era is the only way to get better is to Fleece the other team (See Baltimore and Tampa Bay) and they don't have the assets to be the Fleecer.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I am still regretting letting Crane go to the White Sox.

      Perkins and Burton are both high quality late inning relievers -- not that easily replaced. And both of them could be valuable in 2013 and 2014.

      Let Capps go for a decent pitching prospect. Capps seems unlikely to still be valuable by the time that the Twins are ready to contend. Maybe he could be packaged to get a high potential pitching prospect.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      People forget that Capps is still young. He is a proven closer and has a very affordable extension. So he is great trade bait. Burton and Perkins are still JUST relief pitchers. No one would be trading them to be an immediate closer. Even come next season, most teams have their own idea of a closer-in-training, why would they overpay for someone from the Twins. Both Perkins and Burton are undervalued important pieces of near future bullpens. Until they reach closer status, they will just be bullpen guys in par with Crain and Guerrier, both potential closer material but still in the bullpen two years into their higher-priced contracts. When you trade a solid relief pitcher, you can expect a salary savings and a comparable young prospect who may or may not pan out (remember Twins trading Mulvey for Rauch, for example). Again, Perkins gets worth IF he is named and performs as a closer. Same with Burton. At this point, if Burton shows stuff, make him closer until he itches out of it. Or he may become a gem.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      OK John, your post now makes more sense, not that I necessarily agree with your reasoning. The thing is Burton and/or Perkins could indeed potentially yield someone eventually useful. But, whoever the return is, he won't likely contribute anything for the next 3 years and maybe longer. Ryan has always been able to identify potentially useful players in trades, but the more useful a player potentially is, the farther away from the big leagues he is going to be. Neither Burton or Perkins is going to get you an immediate impact guy. In fact if you want a guy who might help you soon, he won't be much more valuable than Burton or Perkins.

      I think you probably hang on to both Perkins and Burton if you believe that adding 1 or 2 FA starters could make you a contender next year, and you are willing to pony up for some quality starters. I don't think the Twins are aiming 4-5 years down the road. They want to be competitive next year and probably strongly competitive the year after(2014).

      Trading useful parts for guys who won't/can't help till 2016 doesn't seem like the right plan to me.
      Hey, Jim. You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

      The Twins will not write giant checks for "FA starters" next year and suddenly transform from crap into contenders. Frugality aside, their rotation currently boasts exactly zero reliable starters who can be counted on in 2013. Zero. Jim, this is still for you. Are you with me? Zero.

      That leaves the lineup and bullpen. Which of those two (both?) were you going to hang your hat on in 2013 to make up for an absolute vacuum of starting pitching? An offense that's been dreadful despite healthy, productive seasons from M/M/S and a nice shot in the arm from Willingham? Or a bullpen that, despite you bizarre assertions to the contrary, possesses nearly all the smart, quick turn-around tradable assets in the entire organization?

      Once again, Jim, pretty much everything you said was wrong. Other than that, it was an enjoyable read.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Glen Perkins hasn't been especially effective this year
      You keep saying this, John. I'd love hear some explanation for it. Perkins is blowing people away.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Nobody will shed a tear if Ryan is able to trade Capps for something useful.

      I can listen to the idea of flipping Burton for a good return.

      But trading Perkins is shortsighted. Despite popular myth building a pen isn't easy.

      You rebuild by flipping overperformers and/or players who won't be around long. Perkins is neither of those. Trading away all your good players is what KC tried for two decades.

      Find starting pitching for sure but not at the expense of your good cheap assets.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Unless your trading with Bill Smith, Bullpen Arms do not bring much in trade.

      What did the Twins give up for the 2009 leader in saves, Brian Fuentes? A player to be named later Loek VanMil

      What did the Mets receve from the Brewers for Premiere Closer Francisco Rodriguez??
      Two players to be named latter LHP Danny Ray Herrera and RHP Adrian Rosario.
      What a haul that was!!
      I Agree with USAF, why trade your good cheap assets for anything short of starting pitching.

      Lets not get Trade happy


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