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Yahoo: Mike Pelfrey Defended

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:11 AM

Over at Yahoo, Tom Schreier looks at my story that criticizes the Mike Pelfrey signing and instead views it as part of a good foundation for the 2014 Twins. He raises some good arguments that supporters of the signing would echo, focusing much of his energy on Pelfrey as part of a stable clubhouse. He also likes it in the context in which it was made, viewing Pelfrey as an additional piece at the end of a successful offseason rebuilding the pitching staff:

"[FONT=Helvetica Neue]On the contrary, the Twins have laid a foundation for a good pitching staff. They finally went out and spent money, bringing in Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49 million) and Phil Hughes (three years, $24 million). With Correia and Pelfrey also under contract, it creates competition for Gibson as well as two lefties, Scott Diamond and Andrew Albers, as well as Samuel Deduno, a player that truly is a gamble with his whacky fastball."[/FONT]


#2 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:20 AM

Part of what he says makes sense - I think part of the reasons the Twins wanted Pelfrey back were things not relating to his pitching days. He "toughed" it out, he wanted to pitch, etc things like that, I think the Twins (rightly or wrongly) like quite a bit. I always thought that Ryan brought Capps back b/c Capps pitched so much of the year with an injured wrist but wouldn't go to the DL. (I also happen to think Pelfrey is a good gamble at this point of his career and 6m or so per year on him looks safe).

And teammates probably do like stability in the clubhouse - I have no idea how much it affects them but I'm sure they like it and Pelfrey, as I heard it, was well-liked by the other pitchers.

#3 stringer bell

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:47 AM

Part of what he says makes sense - I think part of the reasons the Twins wanted Pelfrey back were things not relating to his pitching days. He "toughed" it out, he wanted to pitch, etc things like that, I think the Twins (rightly or wrongly) like quite a bit. I always thought that Ryan brought Capps back b/c Capps pitched so much of the year with an injured wrist but wouldn't go to the DL. (I also happen to think Pelfrey is a good gamble at this point of his career and 6m or so per year on him looks safe).

And teammates probably do like stability in the clubhouse - I have no idea how much it affects them but I'm sure they like it and Pelfrey, as I heard it, was well-liked by the other pitchers.

If they can get him to work faster, a lot of people would like Pelfrey more. I saw two of his games in person and he pitched OK in both, but got a loss (Twins were shut out) and a no-decision (Arcia hit a game-winning homer after Pelf left) in those starts. Obviously with his WHIP, he had a lot of runners on base and he worked at an iceberg pace with runners on. Also, he tended to nibble and run into a lot of long counts. Maybe more confidence in his stuff this year will make him more aggressive and assertive.

#4 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:55 AM

Yeah, he isn't the most fun pitcher to sit through.

#5 TheLeviathan

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:00 AM

Maybe more confidence in his stuff this year will make him more aggressive and assertive.


My understanding was that this was a trend even pre-injury with the Mets or was this a new phenomenon?

#6 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:08 AM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :) Also, I am NOT trying to convince anyone I am correct, I'm just talking here, not arguing.


#7 Dman

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:30 AM

I am not sure I understand the article. Is he saying that keeping Pelfrey to create consistency in the clubhouse is why this was a good signing?

#8 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:56 AM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.


But what good player would you have signed to replace the Pelfrey signing? I guess the Twins could have waited to see how the Tanaka situation shook out to see if they could sign Garza (although as far as I'm concerned, they still have the money to sign him if they could entice him back to MN). E. Santana wasn't going to happen. Arroyo for 4 years instead of Pelfrey for 2? I think I'd rather take the 2 year risk (at lower money) for Pelfrey rather than being locked into another 4 year deal.

The Twins were in a position where they had to do something pretty early this off-season and I am so glad that we are not sitting here with Christmas fast approaching and no pitchers in the Twins' stocking. I didn't expect them to make giant leaps in one off-season. I'm satisfied with taking some decent strides toward a better pitching staff and in positioning themselves for some of the prospects to mature (we hope). I don't see anything that they've done so far this off-season as hampering themselves from making further improvements over the next year or two.

The Pelfrey signing may not be a great present but it's not one where I feel like I have to stand in the returns line, either. It may be one of those gifts you use for a while and then discard. And fortunately, the Twins could afford to do that.

Edited by JB_Iowa, 20 December 2013 - 10:59 AM.


#9 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:05 AM

I'm not sure why people get upset about clubhouse chemistry. I've worked plenty of jobs where the team environment made working difficult... and in some cases toxic. It happens. I have no doubt that it can affect play on the field.

I do agree that winning can cure many ailments, but I refuse to pretend that clubhouse chemistry doesn't matter either.

#10 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:05 AM

To go back to the original article, though.

The one thing that Pelfrey seems to bring to the clubhouse is a toughness and true desire to get out on the mound. (Maybe even pushing it faster than he should have).

Given the complaints we've all had about the "country club" atmosphere we've perceived in the clubhouse the last few years, that seems like a positive to me. A great reason to sign him? No. A contributing factor? Yep.

#11 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:08 AM

I would have signed an OFer, not another 4/5 starter. Now, all the good OFers are gone. I still don't get the idea of a stop gap starter, if you are not going to fix the offense. That's the part of the strategy I don't get.

Also, the comments I made were about the whole "chemistry wins games" part of the article......since I think that is somewhat bunk. Great players wins games, chemistry can help, but it isn't THE thing, imo.

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :) Also, I am NOT trying to convince anyone I am correct, I'm just talking here, not arguing.


#12 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:15 AM

I am not sure that Pelfrey was defended (or needed defending for that matter) the Twins' signing was. And I am not going to comment on what was written at yahoo, in absentia of the author here, but I would have to agree that (and I commented on the article when it was posted here) that it really was one-sided and not any good data-driven arguments were given against the signing (other than ERA numbers) and most of the argument (that has been repeated here and in podcasts) was that the Twins were throwing away money because Pelfrey is perceived by someone(s) to be "horrible".

Some of us (including Nelson - twice here and here- and me) tried to look at the reasons with data that the Twins actually might had in mind when they signed Pelfrey and how this could potentially be a positive signing. On the other hand, all the arguments that we hear against the Pelfrey signing is (practically) that "he is horrible", "he is slow" and he had a "high ERA".

As as far as the Twins throwing money away gambling, Pelfrey's annual contact value is exactly what they paid Blackburn not to pitch last season and about half of what they paid Pavano the season before...
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#13 Dman

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:24 AM

I'm not sure why people get upset about clubhouse chemistry. I've worked plenty of jobs where the team environment made working difficult... and in some cases toxic. It happens. I have no doubt that it can affect play on the field.

I do agree that winning can cure many ailments, but I refuse to pretend that clubhouse chemistry doesn't matter either.


I think club house chemistry is important but if it is the primary reason we are signing guys then I don't think we will have a very good team. I am sure there are lots of players with great personalities for the club house but they might not be great players.

Look I don't mind the Pelfrey signing and I think he will have bounce back year and prove himself but I don't think great clubhouse guy is the MAIN reason you bring him back. I expected more stats or analysis in the article.

#14 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:30 AM

I would have signed an OFer, not another 4/5 starter. Now, all the good OFers are gone. I still don't get the idea of a stop gap starter, if you are not going to fix the offense. That's the part of the strategy I don't get.

Also, the comments I made were about the whole "chemistry wins games" part of the article......since I think that is somewhat bunk. Great players wins games, chemistry can help, but it isn't THE thing, imo.


Fair enough on the OF. Obviously that wasn't a direction the Twins had in mind even before the season started. Maybe they'll be proved wrong on having enough outfielders in the pipeline. I know you've been vocal about how the Twins would be really competitive this year if they made the right moves. I guess I think they are further away than that so I don't have a problem with a lot of outfield auditions this year.

I don't necessarily believe that clubhouse chemistry wins games (although I think that at times it can lose them) and I probably disagree with the Twins on what kind of clubhouse chemistry is needed.

But I've noted since early in the off-season that I wanted to see the Twins sign players who WANT to be on that field each day (as was noted about the changes the Red Sox made last year, the kind of baseball rats who want to be on the top step of the dugout and are anxious to get on the field). Although a pitcher, I see that in Pelfrey -- someone who pushes himself. If he can have a year where he is pitching pretty well, I think that his attitude provides some good leadership qualities for the rest of the staff.

#15 mike wants wins

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:35 AM

I think that's all fair, JB, and I understand why people think I'm on crack in thinking with one or two big moves they were a contender this year. I was pretty surprised to come to that conclusion myself. It might be the NFL fan in me, since you can turn a team around there so fast....

What I just typed is probably an opinion, not a fact. I mean, I'm usually right, so you should maybe assume it is or will be a fact soon, but that's up to you. :) Also, I am NOT trying to convince anyone I am correct, I'm just talking here, not arguing.


#16 big dog

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:37 AM

A lot of you are very well-informed about what players' lives are like in the minors, especially the low minors. I've got a good friend whose son is in the Midwest League. Things are financially even tighter for them than I thought, and my expectations were low to begin with. When Pelfrey went to Cedar Rapids for a start this summer, he paid for a prime rib clubhouse spread after the game. Most of those kids had never seen prime rib before. I bet he's a great guy to have on your team, and I'll cheer for him. Especially if he quits holding the ball so long.

#17 Oxtung

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:15 PM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.


The funny part is the author of the Yahoo! article makes the same argument. He buries this little nugget in the middle of that article.

The Twins succeed when they have enough talent on the team; they don't when they do not.


So in the end, for all his railing on "team chemistry", it even comes back to talent for him.

#18 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:06 PM

I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. Santana, Radke, Hunter, Puckett, Hrbek, Liriano's magic year, Knoblauch, Gaetti, Mauer, Morneau pre-injury.....it was about talent.


How do you explain Boston's 2012/2013 and the mediocre results of the LAA?

#19 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:28 PM

[quote name='mike wants wins']I would argue that successful Twins teams won because they had good and great players, not because of "magic beans" around chemistry. .[/QUOTE]

I would not compare apples:
[quote name='mike wants wins']
Santana, Radke, Hunter, Liriano's magic year,.Mauer, Morneau pre-injury....[/QUOTE]

to oranges

[quote name='mike wants wins']Puckett, Hrbek, Knoblauch, Gaetti, [/QUOTE]

As far as winning goes.


And the different results of these 2 groupings make this false:

[quote name='mike wants wins'].it was about talent.[/QUOTE]

To go from being a competitive team for 4 seasons with one and outs in the post-season to wining 2 World Series in 4 seasons, apparently you need more than talent.

in 1987 and 1991, the Twins did not have the AL Cy Young and AL MVP play in the same team. In 2006 they did. Arguably, the 2006 team was more talented than either of the World Series teams. Why did they not win? Not because of talent it seems...

Heart, Chemistry and Desire to win are huge as well...

Or find me another explanation about the postseason Gardenhire loser teams, which does not involve "luck", "dice" or "the Yankees".

I am all ears.

Edited by Thrylos, 20 December 2013 - 05:31 PM.

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#20 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:29 PM

I'm not sure why people get upset about clubhouse chemistry. I've worked plenty of jobs where the team environment made working difficult... and in some cases toxic. It happens. I have no doubt that it can affect play on the field.

I do agree that winning can cure many ailments, but I refuse to pretend that clubhouse chemistry doesn't matter either.


In a business context, culture is the hardest thing to change. The largest turnaround I ever orchestrated started with the dismissal of two extremely talent individuals that simply refused to be team players. That company had a poor culture, a high turnover rate that was growing even higher, and was losing money. Three years later that had almost zero turnover, attracted the best talent in the region and had record profits. That company also went on to be recognized within that industry as the best organization of its kind in the US.

So, yes, count me in the camp that believes chemistry is important.