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March 12, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Almost Closing Time for Perkins?

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

MINNESOTA TWINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Re-signed LHP Glen Perkins to a three-year contract worth $10.3 million guaranteed with a club option for 2016 worth $4.5 million. [3/8]

Perkins’s story looks like a childhood dream come to life. Born and raised in Minnesota, Perkins played collegiately at the University of Minnesota. He pitched well enough as a Gophers for the Twins to draft him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2004 draft. Short, husky, and flat-footed, Perkins looked the part of a reliever. The Twins liked Perkins’s pitchability, willingness to throw strikes, and arsenal enough to project him as a starter, though they fast-tracked him to the majors and had him debut in a relief capacity fewer than 26 months after the ink on his professional contract dried.

Perkins would crack the major league rotation in 2008 and make 43 starts over the subsequent two seasons. He rarely missed bats and allowed too many hits and home runs to prove effective. The Twins moved Perkins back to the bullpen in 2010, giving him a September audition that saw fair returns. He then opened the 2011 season in the pen and pitched well, finishing with 61 2/3 innings pitched, a 2.48 earned run average, a 3.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 65 strikeouts—notable since he struck out just 59 batters in 118 innings over the previous two seasons. Unsurprisingly, Perkins’s career numbers suggest his stuff just works better in shorter outings:

Role

IP

ERA

SO/BB

ISO Against

Starter

251

5.06

1.92

.181

Reliever

114

3.00

2.78

.106

Minnesota wanted a starter when they popped Perkins, but they got a reliever instead. There are worse fates, however; just look at the other first-round picks the Twins made that year: 

  • Trevor Plouffe (20th): 364 major-league plate appearances, .226/.286,.382 line.
  • Kyle Waldrop (25th): Underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008 and converted to relief thereafter; made seven major-league appearances last season with woeful results. 
  • Matt Fox (35th): Made his major-league debut in 2010 for the Twins before being lost on waivers to the Red Sox.
  • Jay Rainville (39th): Shoulder injuries killed his career, and he most recently pitched in organized ball two seasons ago.

A run of miserable luck, but the Twins almost made that class appear worse by never getting value from Perkins, all because of an incident back in 2009. The quick version of the story goes something like this: Perkins was on the major-league roster with an elbow injury. The Twins optioned him to Triple-A, then placed him on the disabled list there; no big deal—except, placing Perkins on the minor-league disabled list rather than the major league disabled list meant he would not be receive additional service time while on the shelf.  The two sides considered their choices (filing a grievance for Perkins, trading Perkins for the Twins) before working together to restore their relationship.  

Everything between Perkins and the Twins appears to be warm and fuzzy now, perhaps in part because of what the future may hold. As Derek Carty pointed out, Perkins could become the Twins closer sooner rather than later, should Matt Capps stumble, thus making this new pact a double-edged sword. Yes, the Twins can promote Perkins without fearing the economics of a save, but that’s just it—Perkins is signed to a deal unsuitable for a closer. Consider it a prudent display of foresight on Terry Ryan’s part or a happy coincidence should Perkins become the closer and thrive.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed OF-R Jarrad Page to a minor-league deal. [3/10]

Although Page is unlikely to play in the majors, it’s worth mentioning whenever an athlete leaves one professional sports league for another. Folks familiar with the National Football League know Page as a veteran safety formerly of the Chiefs, Patriots, Vikings, and Eagles. Those who recall Page during his time at UCLA probably also know him as a football player, though he did play some baseball with the Bruins too, showed off enough potential—if not results—to have three teams draft him over the years.

Page opted for a career in football, but now at age 27, he is coming back to the diamond. Experts peg two-sport stars as breakout candidates in the minors because of the strides that can come with dedicating oneself to a lone sport. Athleticism and instincts sit on a seesaw during a player’s career. You hope that athleticism can make up for lacking instincts early on, while the experience evens out declining athleticism on the other end. With Page, the problem is that his athleticism could begin to slip soon, and he has less baseball experience than most of his same-aged minor-league counterparts.

Perhaps Page is a quick study or a natural baseball player. The willingness to try baseball at least speaks to his attitude even if he fails. And that he even has the opportunity speaks for his athletic talents.


R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Minnesota Twins,  Glen Perkins

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