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Article: Pelfrey & Baker: A Study in Arm Resilience

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 09:16 AM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...-Arm-Resilience

#2 nicksaviking

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 11:02 AM

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.

#3 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 02:20 PM

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!

#4 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 02:27 PM

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.

#5 Thrylos

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 02:40 PM

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 Marta Shearing

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:12 PM

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.

#7 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:34 PM

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

#8 Oxtung

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:49 PM

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 Marta Shearing

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:52 PM

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

#10 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:54 PM

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.

#11 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 03:57 PM

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.

#12 TheLeviathan

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:01 PM

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.

#13 Oxtung

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:29 PM

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.

#14 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:04 PM

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.

#15 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:06 PM

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.

#16 The Wise One

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:16 PM

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.

#17 ashburyjohn

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 05:37 PM

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.

Edited by ashburyjohn, 20 December 2013 - 08:59 PM.


#18 Tibs

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 10:13 PM

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.

#19 kab21

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 03:02 AM

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.

#20 Nick Nelson

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 12:41 PM

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.

#21 TheLeviathan

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 12:59 PM

True Nick and I credit the Twins on Baker, but the mentality was wrong. Not to mention I think we all agree swapping Correia and Pelfreys contracts last year would be beneficial now.

The twins have prized toughness and durability over talent for awhile but that trend seems to be changing for the better.

#22 Oxtung

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 01:09 PM

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.


Of course the same could be said about the Mets and Pelfrey. Doesn't it speak volumes that the Mets didn't even tender Pelfrey a contract? Your argument doesn't seem to work well since a team could only ever known the in depth analysis of one half of the decision. For the Twins they knew Baker but not Pelfrey. Why should I blindly follow the Twins decision when they didn't follow the Mets decision?

No, I'll stick with my original statement. Baker was the better signing at the time the decisions were made. He was just as risky but he had considerably more upside.

#23 Oxtung

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 01:25 PM

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.


Wise One, you seem to agree with me whether you can see it or not. Your second sentence is exactly what I'm saying. You sign someone because of what you think they bring to the table and then judge your results based on those assumptions. In fact you continuously reference the knowledge base at the time the decision was made when you use the words "validate your judgement" and "meet your expectations".

As for Privacy Laws, it is impossible for me to know that which I cannot know, therefore I can only base my opinions upon that which is known to me. So, as I've asked you many times before, please help us understand the inside workings of the Twins decisions so that we too may benefit from their knowledge. Until you do however I can only base my opinions on my current knowledge.

#24 OldTwinky

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 02:10 PM

I still think they should be trying to bring Baker back home. He belongs in a Twins uniform. I don't really put a lot of value in Pelfrey being able to perform terribly last year. Him being on rehab assignments all year would have probably been better for the team.

#25 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 03:41 PM

Of course the same could be said about the Mets and Pelfrey. Doesn't it speak volumes that the Mets didn't even tender Pelfrey a contract? Your argument doesn't seem to work well since a team could only ever known the in depth analysis of one half of the decision. For the Twins they knew Baker but not Pelfrey. Why should I blindly follow the Twins decision when they didn't follow the Mets decision?

No, I'll stick with my original statement. Baker was the better signing at the time the decisions were made. He was just as risky but he had considerably more upside.


The Twins can only base a decision on what the Twins know. And given that they refused to sign Baker without a second year on the contract, I think it's pretty apparent that they didn't have much faith in Baker pitching in 2013.

Which, coincidentally, he didn't do until September.

As Nick brought up, Baker had more work done than a typical TJS. He's never been a particularly resilient guy. There was reason to suspect his timetable to return to the mound and that's without any of the information the Twins acquired on the guy over the years.

Of course, there were reasons to suspect Pelfrey's timetable as well, if only because he accelerated it so much.

#26 Boom Boom

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 04:16 PM

Just because Pelfrey was a better deal than Baker doesn't mean that the Twins needed to decide between one or the other. They could have signed neither, or both.

I don't buy that the holdup with Baker was the 2nd year option. I think he genuinely wanted out.

#27 nicksaviking

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 04:22 PM

I don't know that Pelfrey was a better signing than Baker last year. Sure he played, but poorly. Pelfrey's -.3 BBR WAR would suggest Baker would have been a better signing even if he had not thrown a pitch.

If we can talk in terms like addition by subtraction, surely subtraction by addition exists.

#28 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 06:35 PM

I don't know that Pelfrey was a better signing than Baker last year. Sure he played, but poorly. Pelfrey's -.3 BBR WAR would suggest Baker would have been a better signing even if he had not thrown a pitch.

If we can talk in terms like addition by subtraction, surely subtraction by addition exists.


I don't buy this one bit. If the Twins had better options than Pelfrey, they would have used them.

The awful pitcher who logs innings is more valuable than the guy who doesn't pitch. I can only imagine the awful pitchers that would have donned a Twins uniform if Pelfrey hadn't pitched.

The fact that Pelfrey was one of the top five starters in 2013 is an indictment of Ryan, not Mike.

#29 nicksaviking

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 08:34 PM

I don't buy this one bit. If the Twins had better options than Pelfrey, they would have used them.

The awful pitcher who logs innings is more valuable than the guy who doesn't pitch. I can only imagine the awful pitchers that would have donned a Twins uniform if Pelfrey hadn't pitched.

The fact that Pelfrey was one of the top five starters in 2013 is an indictment of Ryan, not Mike.


I don't exactly disagree, but I don't like basing the judgment by innings pitched. His bad innings were not better than Baker's non-innings in my book. Pelfrey's disasterous April-May were a gigantic reason this team was out of contention after the first month of the season. Paying Baker to do nothing then using replacement player X likely at worst would have yielded the same results with a decent chance of yielding better results.

#30 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 December 2013 - 08:51 PM

I don't exactly disagree, but I don't like basing the judgment by innings pitched. His bad innings were not better than Baker's non-innings in my book. Pelfrey's disasterous April-May were a gigantic reason this team was out of contention after the first month of the season. Paying Baker to do nothing then using replacement player X likely at worst would have yielded the same results with a decent chance of yielding better results.


On a good team, Pelfrey's 150 innings are virtually useless.

On the 2013 Twins, they served a purpose... But that's part of the reason why the 2013 Twins were so bad. As awful as Mike pitched, he was still one of the five best pitchers on the 40 man roster.

Again, picking up Pelfrey last season wasn't a bad move... If it was the third or fourth move. As the second move, it was absolutely atrocious. I'm not going to blame Pelfrey because Ryan didn't pick up legitimate talent that wasn't returning from surgery.