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jorgenswest

Trade Talk: Glen Perkins

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I have a little different format for this one as much has been written about Perkins. Dave Schoenfield's article recommending the Twins trade Glen Perkins in "Another Reason Closers are Overated".

As I read his article is whether he was asking the right questions. The question should really be what happens to closers the following year. It should be how many teams have the same closer. How effective can we expect Perkins to remain in the next 2-3 years?

As the Twins consider trading Glenn Perkins, they really need to assess the value he will bring in the next 2 or 3 seasons they have him under control.

Using the years 1991-2010, I looked at the 32 pitchers in the closing role at age 30 and followed them through their age 33 season. The data was pulled with the help of Baseball Reference's Play Index, it is here.

Age Closers
30 32
31 22
32 20
33 18

At first that seems like a significant drop off. However, it isn't a fair assessment either. Pitchers left closing for three reasons.

- They were injured
- They were ineffective closers
- They changed roles and remained effective

Ryan Dempster became an effective starting pitcher. Rafael Soriano spent a year as an effective set up man to Mariano Rivera. Had either been given the opportunity to close, they probably would have remained effective in that role.

Other pitchers did not continue to close because they weren't good at it. Braden Looper and Danny Graves for example. They should not be grouped with Glenn Perkins. In fact, there are several guys on the list that did the job and had saves for the year. They were not effective and did not continue in that role. Schoenfield points to the often changing team closer role as evidence that it is easy to find another closer. Couldn't it also be that teams are continuing to search for an effective closer?

I think we need to count the pitchers who were effective but either did not play or became ineffective due to injury.

Age Loss to injury
30 0
31 5
32 6
33 4

Injured pitchers include John Franco (2 seasons), JJ Putz (3 seasons), Jeff Russell (1 season), Tom Gordon (2 seasons), Keith Foulke (2 seasons), Bryan Harvey (3 seasons), Bj Ryan (2 seasons). I really don't know where to put guys like Octavio Dotel, Jose Mesa and Heatcliff Slocumb. I think it was more of a role change for them. I don't think their teams viewed them as effective. It isn't that easy to find an effective closer.

Players with a closer workload seem to have a better chance of remaining healthy than a set up reliever. I looked at the continued health of set up men last year as the Twins considered extending Jared Burton.

It appears there is a good chance that Perkins will remain effective and healthy the next three years. It is probably greater than the likelihood of a #50 prospect having a significant major league career. His contract is very reasonable. His value to the Twins may be greater than the David Schoenfield article suggests.

Earlier trade talk articles

Trade talk: Brian Duensing
Trade Talk: Correia and Pelfrey

Updated 07-12-2013 at 03:50 PM by jorgenswest

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Comments

  1. Brad Swanson's Avatar
    I really enjoyed this post and I appreciate the amount of research you put into your writing. I think that the concept and role of closer is a bit overrated, but good closers are not overrated. I'm not sure that makes perfect sense, but if you have an excellent pitcher who also happens to be your closer, I think that has value, especially if that player is cheap. Perkins is cheap and effective. Sometimes the closer role hamstrings managers, but if used properly, a late-inning reliever like Perkins is far from overrated.
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