My feelings of rage and confusion after the Kevin Correia signing have subsided. The rage was always a bit overstated. I wasn’t really enraged; I didn’t want to rip my clothes. The confusion was very real though. Now, with the news that the Twins have reached a one year deal with free agent Mike Pelfrey, my feelings are more of confusion and meh.
Let’s start with meh. I can’t really feel too angry about any one year contract. Pelfrey’s base salary in 2013 will be 4 million dollars. The only way he reaches the potential additional 1.5 million is to pitch well. If he pitches well, we should be happy. If he isn’t good, he can be released, a la Jason Marquis in 2012. The Twins will be out some cash, but they were unlikely to share any of that money with me in the first place. In addition, if he is really good, the Twins could trade him for a prospect and save some money in 2013.
Wait, who is Mike Pelfrey anyway? First, he is a hoss; 6′ 7″ and 250 lbs. Pelfrey was the 9th overall pick in the 2005 MLB entry draft. He made short work of the Minor Leagues and debuted with the Mets in 2006. He was in the Majors to stay come 2007 and posted his best season in 2008 with a 3.0 fWAR. He throws fairly hard, averaging around 93 mph on his fastball. He has 5 pitches, but mostly relies on his four-seam fastball and sinker. His strikeout rates are much below league average but his walk rate is only just below league average. He gets a good amount of ground balls, but hasn’t really turned that skill into much tangible success. He has a career 4.36 ERA, which is not great. He also had Tommy John surgery early in the 2012 season, and only might be ready for the start of 2013.
The contract figures aren’t astronomical and the length of the deal ensures that there isn’t a lot of risk involved. Pelfrey has had flashes of competence and could render pitchers like P.J. Walters, Cole De Vries and Samuel Deduno as extraneous. All that being said, this move still confuses me. Pelfrey is a 5th starter at best. He might give the Twins a mediocre 180 innings, but likely not much more. He isn’t likely to find random success, just because he left New York and came to Minnesota. Of course, there really aren’t any better options out there, but there might be better options in the organization.
Scott Diamond, Vance Worley,Kevin Correia and Pelfrey will be in the 2013 rotation. I originally thought Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson would be there too. Now, there isn’t room for both and there may eventually not be room for either. Terry Ryan said that he wants to limit Gibson to about 130-140 innings. That seems like a painfully conservative number, but that is a topic for another day. It is entirely possible that Gibson will spend all of 2013 at AAA, with a September call-up if he hasn’t exceeded his innings limit. I can’t see any reason to put Hendriks back at AAA, but that could be the plan too. Either way, one of those players doesn’t have a spot now. If the Twins sign another mediocre starter, they both might be Rochester bound. I don’t see much point in this, as the 2013 Twins are likely to be pretty awful. It makes sense to try to get Hendriks and Gibson some experience against MLB hitting. I could be wrong. Injuries can change all of this, as we all witnessed last season.
If the Twins do want to sign another pitcher, there are still a lot available. I’m not sure any are better options for this specific team than Gibson and/or Hendriks, but they could be better than Pelfrey and/or Correia. We’ll see. I’m just not sure what the Correia and Pelfrey moves mean. They aren’t win now moves, because these pitchers aren’t good. They aren’t win later moves, because they block younger, potentially MLB ready players. I guess they are just moves. The team needs innings, and these guys are alive and able to pitch innings. The Pelfrey signing doesn’t make me angry like I pretended to be after the Correia signing (oh no, secret’s out), but it confuses me nonetheless. Best case scenario leads to the Twins paying Pelfrey 5.5 million to pitch some innings. If they wanted a guy to just pitch innings, why spend more money? Just call up Nick Blackburn and set the whole internet on fire.