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Thread: Article: Pelfrey & Baker: A Study in Arm Resilience

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    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Article: Pelfrey & Baker: A Study in Arm Resilience


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    I'm sure Baker's injury history was under consideration, but I'm more inclined to believe that the contracts the Twins gave to Pelfrey and Correia had more to do with the way the Cubs jumped on the market and manipulated it at the begining of free agency. The Cubs wanted the higher upside Baker, but had their preference been Pelfrey, I think the more agressive Cubs would have had him and the Twins then perhaps would have re-signed Baker.

    I don't know that the Twins preferred Pelfrey over Baker as much as I think the Cubs shocked everyone by setting the market for backend/reclamation project pitchers suddenly and aggessively before the Twins or other teams were prepared to react.

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    Senior Member Big-Leaguer Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
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    I'm not as down on Pelf as many here at TD. He came back at record pace and posted a respectable second half. TR is raising the bar. Yes, we have a lot of guys vying for 5th starter, but that is a better problem than we had last year.

    Go Twins!

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    Senior Member All-Star Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
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    It's a small quibble, but Baker pitched nearly 300 more innings in the minors than Pelfrey, most of those innings at AAA. However, each played three years in college where Pelfrey had 120 more innings than Baker-- if that's because Baker had college injuries then that would certainly advance your point that Pelfrey has the more resilient arm.

    I think the broader decision to cut ties with Baker was political. The facts and circumstances surrounding Baker's 2012 spring training injury was much more contentious than the online news stories from the time would suggest. Not to get too conspiratorial or negative, but I distinctly remember either a Kris Attebery or a Gladden talking about it on a radio show at the time, and that very influential people in the FO or coaching staff basically felt that Baker's injury was in his head and that Baker just needed to "man up" and pitch. That statement caught my ear. Then in a 180, Baker had the second opinion and the surgery. I don't know, maybe that says more about me that I can be loudly critical of episodes like that rather than always looking at the bright side of things. (being critical vs. looking at the bright side of 3 straight horrible seasons is another topic)

    But whatever, disputes like this happen behind the scenes in most/all organizations. I think Pelfrey and Baker are both in the right places and that both will be effective in 2014.

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    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco View Post
    very influential people in the FO or coaching staff basically felt that Baker's injury was in his head and that Baker just needed to "man up" and pitch. That statement caught my ear.
    That would be Terry Ryan, Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson. They are all on the record saying that Baker should try to pitch through this...
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  6. #6
    I dont blame the Twins FO one bit for thinking it was all in Baker's head. There always seemed to be something ailing Baker's arm, and the organization had grown tired of it. Baker may have better stuff than Pelfrey, but I'll take Pelfrey any day over Baker. He's durable. He's a gamer. He's not whiny and wimpy. And it seemed any time Baker got his pitch count in the 90's, his whole body language changed. Afterall, once you get close to 100, you're supposed to be tired, right? Classic new age "6 innings and I've done my job" pitcher.

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    Owner MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
    I dont blame the Twins FO one bit for thinking it was all in Baker's head. There always seemed to be something ailing Baker's arm, and the organization had grown tired of it. Baker may have better stuff than Pelfrey, but I'll take Pelfrey any day over Baker. He's durable. He's a gamer. He's not whiny and wimpy. And it seemed any time Baker got his pitch count in the 90's, his whole body language changed. Afterall, once you get close to 100, you're supposed to be tired, right? Classic new age "6 innings and I've done my job" pitcher.
    Baker career: 6.03 innings per start

    Pelfrey career: 5.89 innings per start

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson
    I felt at the time that one of the biggest factors in the club's preference for Pelfrey was a history of far greater arm durability, and one year later, the decision looks smart.
    No it doesn't. It looks as stupid today as it did a year ago. With Baker there was at least the hope that he could return and pitch with some above average results. He could then perhaps have been re-signed or traded at some point.

    Pelfrey on the other hand had no upside. Even when healthy he hadn't been good, there was no hope that he would be an above average pitcher. So at best you get a #4 or 5 starter with the risk that he is God awful or doesn't pitch. Well, we got the God awful. How did that help the Twins exactly?

    If the Twins had signed Baker and gotten God awful (or no innings at all), at least we could have said they were trying to put a good pitcher on the field.

  9. #9
    Baker career: Far more talented than Pelfrey, but a head case.

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    Owner MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
    No it doesn't. It looks as stupid today as it did a year ago. With Baker there was at least the hope that he could return and pitch with some above average results. He could then perhaps have been re-signed or traded at some point.

    Pelfrey on the other hand had no upside. Even when healthy he hadn't been good, there was no hope that he would be an above average pitcher. So at best you get a #4 or 5 starter with the risk that he is God awful or doesn't pitch. Well, we got the God awful. How did that help the Twins exactly?

    If the Twins had signed Baker and gotten God awful (or no innings at all), at least we could have said they were trying to put a good pitcher on the field.
    1. While you can argue the Twins took a risk with Pelfrey, it was still better than signing Baker because at least Pelfrey took the mound. Last time I checked, it's hard to get anything for a guy in trade if he doesn't pitch until September.

    2. Pelfrey was an above average pitcher in 2010, just one season before he missed a season due to TJS.

    You can argue whether Pelfrey is good enough, whether the Twins should have signed him, or a host of other things, but under no circumstances can you argue that Scott Baker was a better signing, particularly in hindsight because he didn't pitch. I'll take the guy who sucks but is playing over the guy who can't play at all. That's just common sense. You can always bench the sucky guy if something better comes along.

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    Owner MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
    Baker career: Far more talented than Pelfrey, but a head case.
    So now somewhat injury-prone players are automatically headcases?

    I will never, ever understand why Minnesota fans cannot appreciate what they had in Scott Baker.

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    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
    You can argue whether Pelfrey is good enough, whether the Twins should have signed him, or a host of other things, but under no circumstances can you argue that Scott Baker was a better signing, particularly in hindsight because he didn't pitch.
    I don't think your reply looked at the conversation in context. Nick posted that his thoughts at the time of the signing were that Pelfrey was being picked over Baker due to durability. Oxtung emphasized the idea of evaluating the deal at the time it was signed.

    I'd have to agree with him, Pelfrey had his surgery later and had never been as good a pitcher as Baker. So it's ONLY with hindsight that you can say the Twins got a slightly better deal. His point, and I agree with it, is that the Twins should've been targeting upside and not durability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
    1. While you can argue the Twins took a risk with Pelfrey, it was still better than signing Baker because at least Pelfrey took the mound. Last time I checked, it's hard to get anything for a guy in trade if he doesn't pitch until September.

    2. Pelfrey was an above average pitcher in 2010, just one season before he missed a season due to TJS.

    You can argue whether Pelfrey is good enough, whether the Twins should have signed him, or a host of other things, but under no circumstances can you argue that Scott Baker was a better signing, particularly in hindsight because he didn't pitch. I'll take the guy who sucks but is playing over the guy who can't play at all. That's just common sense. You can always bench the sucky guy if something better comes along.
    A signing is either good or bad based upon what was known before the signing occured, not because of what happened after. Based upon what was known publicly at the time of the signings Baker was the superior choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    I'd have to agree with him, Pelfrey had his surgery later and had never been as good a pitcher as Baker. So it's ONLY with hindsight that you can say the Twins got a slightly better deal. His point, and I agree with it, is that the Twins should've been targeting upside and not durability.
    On the other hand, the Twins organization had more knowledge about Scott Baker and his situation than every other team in MLB and they refused to sign him without a second year (reportedly).

    That says volumes about Scott Baker's status going into the season.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
    A signing is either good or bad based upon what was known before the signing occured, not because of what happened after. Based upon what was known publicly at the time of the signings Baker was the superior choice.
    What was known publicly about Baker is not the same as what the Twins knew about Baker. They had been working with Baker for years. He had been using their facilities, their doctors, their staff. Nobody knew Scott Baker better than the Twins.

    I think it speaks volumes that they (again, reportedly) wanted a second year or no deal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
    A signing is either good or bad based upon what was known before the signing occured, not because of what happened after. Based upon what was known publicly at the time of the signings Baker was the superior choice.
    That is completely backwards. You sign someone for what you think they can do for you, not what they have done. The results are what makes it a good signing or not. The results are what validate your judgement. If the results meet your expectations then it is a good signing.
    What is known publicly matters little as there is a thing called privacy laws.

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    Twins Moderator MVP ashburyjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marta Shearing View Post
    Baker career: Far more talented than Pelfrey, but a head case.
    Moderator's note: the line is purposely ambiguous where the TD Comment Policy on personal attacks comes into play, but this post needs to be the last of its kind.You can discuss Pelfrey versus Baker, but stay *far* away from the line questioning the person.
    Last edited by ashburyjohn; 12-20-2013 at 08:59 PM.

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    I agree that Pelfrey was the better signing last year. The Cubs might as well have been paying me those millions of dollars until September.

    Did someone actually say they thought the injury was in Baker's head? I feel like there would be medical evidence showing the injury, and I don't see why he would undergo such a serious surgery if it wasn't needed.

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    During the season when Baker got injured there were apparently remarks that Baker needed to toughen up and play through it. He later completely tore his UCL. MRI's are good but they don't show every strain.

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    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
    I'd have to agree with him, Pelfrey had his surgery later and had never been as good a pitcher as Baker. So it's ONLY with hindsight that you can say the Twins got a slightly better deal. His point, and I agree with it, is that the Twins should've been targeting upside and not durability.
    To an extent, yes. I'm a firm believer that the term "injury-prone" is thrown around way too much. But Baker has had chronic arm problems and went through a surgery that was more significant than the typical Tommy John (if you recall, he was getting another procedure done when they discovered the tear and decided to repair the ligament).

    The red flags were obvious in this case. The Cubs risked it anyway and got bit, just as the Mets did with Shaun Marcum. The Twins targeted durability and they got a guy who held up, and actually threw pretty well in the latter part of the year. The smartest thing would have been to start Pelfrey in Triple-A and let him work out the rust in the minors, but oh well.

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