In Perk We Trust
by, 09-09-2012 at 11:01 PM (972 Views)
Ron Gardenhire told reporters over the weekend that he would have "no problem" with Glen Perkins assuming closer duties for his club moving forward.
Well, you'd hope not.
Since Matt Capps was officially placed on the disabled list on July 17, Perkins has received the lion's share of save chances, converting all seven of his opportunities while registering a 1.74 ERA and holding opponents to a .136 batting average. In 20 2/3 innings during that span, he has posted a stellar 19-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Perkins has backed up his breakout 2011 campaign by posting nearly identical numbers here in 2012. Last year, in 61 2/3 innings, he allowed 17 earned runs (2.48 ERA) on 55 hits while striking out 65 and walking 21. This year, in 60 1/3 innings, he has allowed 17 earned runs (2.54 ERA) on 52 hits while striking out 66 and walking 15. Eerily similar.
With that consistency, the lefty has established himself as one of the league's best relievers, and if there truly is some mystical mental trait required to successfully pitch in the ninth inning, he's got it. He has "closer" written all over him.
That's great news for the Twins, especially from a financial standpoint. Back in March, they signed Perkins to a three-year, $10.3 million extension with a team option, so they control his rights through 2016. Here's how his salaries would reflect on payroll compared to other designated closers over the past six years:
2007 Joe Nathan $5.25M 2008 Joe Nathan $6M 2009 Joe Nathan $11.25M 2010 Jon Rauch & Matt Capps ~$4M + Wilson Ramos 2011 Joe Nathan & Matt Capps $18.4M 2012 Matt Capps $4.75M 2013 Glen Perkins $2.5M 2014 Glen Perkins $3.75M 2015 Glen Perkins $3.75M 2016 Glen Perkins $4.5M
Clearly, the Twins place a premium on the value of the closer role and they've paid handsomely for reliability there over the years. So the idea of Perkins locking up that spot over the next few seasons is exciting. It should be noted that, in his case, the above numbers are slight underestimates (he has performance bonuses built into his contract for games finished that haven't been made public), but nevertheless he'll be the most inexpensive ninth-inning man the Twins have employed for many years.
This is as it should be. There's certainly no guarantee that the Twins will be competitive next year, and it makes no sense for a non-competitive team to spend big money for someone to close out wins. The funds saved on a closer can be redirected toward strengthening the bullpen's overall depth (they'll need a new "relief ace" type to fill Perkins' previous role – no small matter) and supplementing other areas of the ballclub.
I think it's safe to say nobody has a problem with Perkins taking that closer role and running with it for the next several years.