Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's Raining 40-Men: Mike Pelfrey

YEEEEEEEAHHHhh!  Remember this dude?  He's the who wants to eat your soul in the Twins' barbershop commercial.  Here's a refresher:

More importantly, Mike Pelfrey is the guy the Twins paid over $1 million per start in 2014.  Not ideal, but what if they were truly amazing starts? 

2014 Season Overview
They weren't.  After spending most of 2013 wandering around the pitching mound, Pelfrey was re-signed to a two-year deal for 2014 and 2015.  He earned this contract based on...probably...height?  Pelfrey is really tall, no one can dispute that.  Pelfrey was slotted as the Twins' fourth starter out of Spring Training.  He threw 23.2 innings in those five previously mentioned starts, posting a 7.99 ERA, 1.983 WHIP and 0.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Despite these numbers, the Twins placed Pelfrey on the disabled list on May 2, instead of completely moving all of the team's operations to hide from him as I had advocated for.  Pelfrey never got healthy and didn't pitch after May 1.  Pelfrey has currently made $9.5 million from the Twins and rewarded them with a 5.56 ERA in 34 starts.  He's averaged just a hair over 5 innings per start as a Twin, revealing his true value to the team:  bullpen-practice helper. 

2015 Role Projection
Blerg, probably in the rotation because he's under contract.  In a just world - some sort of baseball scarecrow. 

2015 Season Prediction
Any positive prediction for Pelfrey is completely illogical.  Since 2011, Pelfrey has an ERA of 4.99.  He can't go deep into games, he slows down the game, he licks his lips constantly, he's not young and he doesn't have upside. 


So, it's not all bad. 

A 90s Song for Mike
Pearl Jam - "Release"

Long-Term Outlook
I think his long-term outlook is pretty great.  He's only 31 and he had a 3.66 ERA in 2010.  That may seem like ages ago, but remember how Nick Blackburn pitched in that one game 163?  That bought him like 3 extra years, and he was mostly healthy.  Pelfrey had a full season of good games back in 2010 and he's barely gotten a chance with the Twins due to injury rehab and then injuries.  There are still people who probably think Blackburn didn't get a fair shot, so Pelfrey is likely to get a fair chance in 2015. 

Since Pelfrey's performance has yet to be a reason to get rid of him, I can only imagine he'll get another contract after the 2015 season.  He's earned it, right?  Perhaps he becomes a Twin for life, one day becoming the pitching coach, then the manager, then the general manager and then the owner, eventually holding all of those titles concurrently. 

The more likely scenario involves the Twins releasing Pelfrey at the end of Spring Training, Pelfrey signing with the Pirates, Pelfrey throwing one good game for the Pirates and the entire Twins Facebook page spontaneously bursting into flames. 

Is he a keeper?
Define keeper.  Could he provide some surprise value in 2015?  I suppose it's possible.  Perhaps his injuries really held him down in 2013 and 2014.  Perhaps when fully healthy, he can be a serviceable back-end starter.  $5.5 million isn't a crazy price for a back-end starter and Pelfrey was good back in 2010 (remember).  The money is a sunk cost and any value would be a big surprise.  That's the best way to spend $11 million - to explain the concept of sunk cost to a fan base. 

If he's bad and then re-signed for 2016, we'll know that the Twins are just trolling the daylights out of us.  So, at least we'll have that knowledge.  

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