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  • 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. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      I am not on board with trading Perkins. I believe he'll be a part of the next contending Twins team, and the Twins aren't going to get enough return in a trade for him that it would be worth it.

      Burton... I think he's done it with a bit of smoke and mirrors. I could listen on trade offers for him, but I don't believe the Twins would get much at all for Burton.
    1. Loosey's Avatar
      Loosey -
      I disagree with trading either of these guys. First of all they have team friendly contracts at this point. Secondly, they are relief pitchers. Teams rarely give up high-end prospects for a releif pitcher due to the notion that they can find good arms somewhere without giving up much if anything. The only team that I can recall giving up a good prospect for a reliever is the Twins trading Ramos for Capps. I have mentioned this before, do not trade away your best assets for wild card B-level prospects. When you have a proven commodity in Perkins and Burton who are relatively young and assumingly have quite few years of success ahead of them why trade them for unknowns. The team will be better in the long term with these two guys than without them.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I agree with John, I see almost no chance they sign 1or2or 3starting pitchers in the offseason. I also do not think they can hold onto of their good assets and not make trades. The minora are barren of impact or even average MLB players at the highest levels. If you won't trade your valuable assets, you ate going to be hard pressed to get better.
    1. jeffk's Avatar
      jeffk -
      Burton and Perkins' value are artificially low because they're not "closers", even if they have the good stuff.. Move Capps if anyone.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      You don't trade a player just to trade them unless it's a salary dump and the Twins aren't going broke at this point. If any player on the team can bring back talent that will make them better you do it. If Perkins or Burton can bring back talent to make you better do it. If Morneau, Willingham or Span can bring back talent to make you better do it. If you trade them to save a few bucks to put in the Pohlads pocket then you piss me off. We need more talent!
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Anybody who thinks the Twins can get a "decent starting pitching" prospect for any of their current reliever crop is living in a world of sunshine, flowers, and pots of gold at the end of rainbows. If you want a high-end starter prospect in a return, the guys you have to dangle are named Span, Morneau, and Willingham. Span is one of my favorite Twins, but he almost has to be the centerpiece in a deal for a SP if the Twins feel like contending next year.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Highabove View Post
      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


      The Orioles got Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter for Koji Uehara. That looks likes like a pretty good return for a bullpen arm.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      You keep saying this, John. I'd love hear some explanation for it. Perkins is blowing people away.
      Nick, his overall stats have been fine, but he's had a few hiccups that have, through last week at least, left him with a neutral (maybe even negative) WPA. I think he would probably agree.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx...pe=5&gds=&gde=
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Nick, his overall stats have been fine, but he's had a few hiccups that have, through last week at least, left him with a neutral (maybe even negative) WPA. I think he would probably agree.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/statsd.aspx...pe=5&gds=&gde=
      His WPA isn't negative or neutral, it's positive. And two of the guys ahead of him in that category are Alex Burnett and Jeff Gray, which has to make you question using that metric as the sole determinant of a player's effectiveness.

      How many games has Perkins cost the Twins this year? One? And that was back in early April.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Anybody who thinks the Twins can get a "decent starting pitching" prospect for any of their current reliever crop is living in a world of sunshine, flowers, and pots of gold at the end of rainbows. If you want a high-end starter prospect in a return, the guys you have to dangle are named Span, Morneau, and Willingham. Span is one of my favorite Twins, but he almost has to be the centerpiece in a deal for a SP if the Twins feel like contending next year.
      I don't think that any of the relievers alone will bring back a "decent starting pitching" prospect but I also hope that the front office is smart enough to be thinking about packages rather than one-for-one. They have a lot of hard work to do and if one of Perkins or Burton has to be part of the puzzle, I have no problem with it. (As far as I'm concerned there isn't a single player on this team who should be "safe" from a trade although I recognize that no trade clauses come into play. That doesn't mean that they should do something stupid or hold a fire sale but it does mean that they should be thinking creatively.)
    1. Cris E's Avatar
      Cris E -
      Perkins has been solid and pretty healthy since he gave up on starting and embraced the pen. Burton is some guy having a very good year. Cash in the latter and hang on to the former.

      But here's the deal with deals: I think Terry Ryan is going to leave the team intact for the most part.

      He sees a scenario where he just needs to sort out the rotation and they’ll be back in the mediocre AL Central mix. Just dump the one year contracts in July and focus on the rotation. He can restructure Baker’s deal, finally give up on Liriano, and they’ll have Gibson to look at, plus there’s the pile of Blackburn, Diamond and Walters to sift through. Assuming Baker is bad next year, Gibson gets a jump on his return in August 2012 and Liriano is traded that means there are enough arms to fill 3 spots at the back, so they only need two better than average starters. (As a secondary concern, maybe a 3b, a RF and possibly a C of the future.) The pitching alone is a lot to find in one offseason.

      But he’s got some chips to deal: everyone in their last year like Capps, Liriano, Doumit, as well as filler like Casilla and Valencia plus positions of depth like CF (Span or Benson or Revere or Aaron Hicks). Burton is a 2012 alien abduction season that should be cashed in immediately. There’s a lot of money coming of the books so they can afford to take on a real deal or even *gasp* sign a free agent. But he’s got Mauer and Morneau and Willingham and Span and a fair supporting cast of Dozier, Carroll, plus the wildly unlikely Plouffe.


      It could happen, and far faster and easier than a full tear down. Dumping the part of the team that's performing just to gather more cheap lottery tickets doesn't make a lot of sense when a lot of things are in pretty good shape.
    1. Twinsoholic's Avatar
      Twinsoholic -
      I agree with Cris E that Ryan is likely to "leave teh team intact for the most part." I doubt that Ryan will trade either Perkins or Burton, and why should he? Burton is relatively inexpensive, and Perkins just signed a deal that will keep him here--likely as next season's closer. I also agree with Cris that Baker might be offered a restructured deal: something like $5 million for next year (he's coming off major surgery) + a team and player option for the following year at $8 or $9 million. So, a 2013 rotation could have Diamond, Baker, + a free agent + any of the following: Gibson, Wimmers, Hendricks, Walters, Hermson, and players like Walters (plus there is always the Rule 5 draft).

      The offense is very good (usually), and then after 2013 Morneau comes off the books (is that true for Blackburn as well?). Off the books after (or during) this season: Capps (likely to be traded), Pavano, and Liriano (likely).


      As far as trades go, it is possible that Span and Capps and Doumit get traded, and I guess it is possible that Liriano gets traded. I doubt all four get traded, and I doubt any bigger names on the team (i.e., Morneau and Willingham) get traded.

      A winning 2013 team is possible. The Twins got the offense going and the bull pen going, so far, this season, and you would expect them to be strong in these area next year. It is certainly conceivable that the Twins can have a stronger rotation next season. I don't think that they will start out 5 and 15 like this season.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      The Twins have one solid starter for 2014--Diamond. They have some potential starters--Gibson, Hendricks, Walters maybe Liriano if they take a chance--which I would not do. They need another starter. Tradeable assets Span (or Revere), Willingham (in spite of no D), Perkins...maybe Dozier or Doumit. Thats it. Morneau wont bring value cause of concussons. Burton will be viewed as playing now better than his record and will regress (also true of Plouffe). If we are going to get a good number one or two starter like Gio Gonzales of the Nats, we are going to have to package Span (or Revere or Willingham) with a bullpen guy. MLB GMs are smarter than Bill Smith--they wont give us a starter for spare parts like Morneau, Carroll, Burton--even if we put 4 of them in a trade.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Puckett's pond had a series of articles on the trades made by Ryan. There was a lot of swapping of minor league players for something that might work out. A player like Doumit he could get a decent return on (Joe Mays for Roberto Kelly). When he traded an established player, he appeared to get good results. Lohse being the exception. Average relievers and mediocre starters not so well. Given that record, I would not have him trade either Burton or Perkins.
    1. SwainZag's Avatar
      SwainZag -
      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.

      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.

      I agree with this. Especially when it comes to Perkins. He is 29, though under-performing compared to last year, still having a above-par year, has closer type stuff and signed to a very team favorable contract for the next 4 seasons, what's the upside to trading him? Unless someone blows you away with an offer, his age/value/contract and upside are something that if I'm the Twins want around.
    1. SwainZag's Avatar
      SwainZag -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      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.
      With all the money coming off the books I would say it is very reasonable the Twins would go after 1 or 2 of the bigger name starters who will hit FA this offseason.

      What Twins are you watching? Their pen is right in the middle of stats in MLB and the bats while 10th of 15 in the AL in runs have been much better as of late, 2nd in the AL in runs in June.

      I really think a lot of people do not know much about the team outside being last in the AL Central. Record by month:

      April 6th-May 9th - 8-22
      May 10th - June 18th 18-17

      Outside of their atrocious start they have been a .500 team. The bats have been much better, the pen has been overly solid, even the starting pitching has turned around somewhat. This team isn't as bad as so many people wanna make them out to be.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      Here's my biggest issue with the "trade all the assets" movement for the Twins: this isn't basketball, where you're better off blowing things up and starting from scratch than being a mediocre team for several years. Anything can happen in a baseball playoff, so getting into the playoffs should be the goal, rather than trying to tear everything down with the hope of building a dynasty in the future.

      How much real value to Perkins & Burton have in trade? Smart GMs know that you can build a good bullpen on the cheap and that spending big money for a closer is probably wasting money. So we're really looking at getting back C-level prospects at best, in exchange for MLB pitchers that are filling a valuable role. Considering who much of a crap-shoot the MLB draft is, bottoming out the team seems to have marginal benefit.

      I agree with the idea that the twins have a serious problem with their rotation, but that doesn't mean it can't be turned around relatively quickly. But we won't really know until the off-season at least. Scott Diamond could be a solid starter. Gibson may be ready by next season, depending on how he responds this year. Liam Hendriks might be ready to be in the back end. Blackburn should be able to fit in the back of the rotation. The Twins are short at the top of the rotation, but there should be some options on the free agent market, and the Twins will have the money to spend on one if they so choose. And choose they should: with Pavano, Baker, Liriano, and Capps' contracts off the books, that gives the Twins $26M to spend without raising payroll. (Use the Marquis contract to cover some of the inevitable payroll increases?) Zack Greinke sounds pretty good and the Twins should be a viable suitor. But not if we decimate the roster.

      The offense sure looks solid enough. The defense has improved. The bullpen is solid. The ballpark is awesome. If ownership is willing to spend...why not, if the young players can go? But tear it all down and we guarantee 3 years or more of crap.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      The Twins are in last place in the worst division in baseball, and have the worst record in the AL. More than that, they have no starting pitching to speak of going forward.

      This team is so far from contending....
    1. CK's Avatar
      CK -
      Quote Originally Posted by cr9617 View Post
      The Twins are in last place in the worst division in baseball, and have the worst record in the AL. More than that, they have no starting pitching to speak of going forward.

      This team is so far from contending....
      So you're saying there's a chance?!
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by SwainZag View Post
      With all the money coming off the books I would say it is very reasonable the Twins would go after 1 or 2 of the bigger name starters who will hit FA this offseason.

      What Twins are you watching? Their pen is right in the middle of stats in MLB and the bats while 10th of 15 in the AL in runs have been much better as of late, 2nd in the AL in runs in June.

      I really think a lot of people do not know much about the team outside being last in the AL Central. Record by month:

      April 6th-May 9th - 8-22
      May 10th - June 18th 18-17

      Outside of their atrocious start they have been a .500 team. The bats have been much better, the pen has been overly solid, even the starting pitching has turned around somewhat. This team isn't as bad as so many people wanna make them out to be.

      What Twins am I watching? I'm watching the ones that are still tied for dead last in MLB in run differential. I'm watching the ones whose above-average June offense has been predicated almost entirely on getting nearly a bomb per game from Trevor freakin' Plouffe (1 HR/6 AB in June). I'm watching the ones who rank dead last in MLB in bullpen K's per 9 (sustainable success, anyone?).

      And since you asked, starting May 10th I began watching a Twins team that's played .500 ball against a group of opponents who are a collective 40 games under .500.

      Look, they're obviously not the historically awful goon squad we saw in April, and they clearly will have money coming off the books as you pointed out. But the idea that the Pohlads will start, rather than finish, building a contender with high-priced FA starters seems terribly optimistic. There's the modest spending history of the Twins in free agency, and then there's the high probability that the recent surge to respectability has a pretty substantial mirage content to it.

      Or maybe we're thinking more alike than we know, and it's just that you're much more excited than I am about what the Twins can do next year with a rotation headlined by a show-stopper like Joe Blanton, Jeremy Guthrie, or Derek Lowe.
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