Earlier today, La Velle E. Neal III had a post on his blog detailing the current status of the Glen Perkins situation. This is a hot topic, because Perkins entered the offseason as one of the Twins' most viable trade candidates given his repeated run-ins with the front office during the past season, but there hasn't been much indication that the left-hander is drawing a lot of interest.
In his post, Neal references trade talks that the Twins had with the Padres earlier this winter involving Perkins and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Neal notes that the Padres were looking for more than Perkins as a return, and credits the Twins for backing off. He then goes on to make a couple of rather befuddling statements.
First: "Perkins and Kouzmanoff are similar players in that they are still looking for their breakthrough season."
I guess that's technically true. Neither Perkins nor Kouzmanoff has had a truly great season as of yet, despite the fact that both were highly regarded as prospects. However, when looking at the total body of work from both players it's easy to see that Kouz is far more accomplished. In three seasons since becoming a full-time player, he has posted a .263/.309/.436 hitting line; while that doesn't seem particularly impressive at first glance, one must note that he's doing his hitting in the league's most pitcher-friendly ballpark in San Diego. OPS+, which accounts for park effects, puts Kouzmanoff at 103 over that span -- and he's been consistent, with marks of 103, 100 and 100 over the past three years, respectively. Since an OPS+ of 100 is considered average, that puts Kouz as an average to above-average hitter in each of the past three seasons. Once his quality defense is factored in, we find that Kouzmanoff has been a pretty darn good player during his three years as a starter with the Padres.
Conversely, Perkins has a had a rather mucky major-league career thus far. After compiling a handful of relief appearances during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Perkins joined the Twins rotation in 2008. In two seasons as a starter with the Twins, he has amassed a 4.99 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 247 1/3 innings. Using ERA+, which is essentially the pitcher's version of the OPS+ metric we used for Kouzmanoff above, Perkins comes in with an 85 mark over those two years, putting him well below average. Whereas Kouzmanoff, at his worst, has essentially been an average hitter, Perkins topped out with a 95 ERA+ in 2008.
Once you add in the fact that Perkins has a long history of injuries -- some of which remain causes for concern -- and had well publicized spats with his team's front office throughout the past season, there's little question which of the two players currently holds more value. The idea that the Padres were out of line for requesting more than Perkins in return for Kouzmanoff is pretty specious, and it's a shame that Neal is perpetuating it.
In that same vein, Neal goes on to make the following comment: "Suggestions that the Twins should have added Alexi Casilla to the deal are crazy."
You can make the argument that Perkins and Casilla is too much to give up for Kouzmanoff, but crazy?? While he's still young, Casilla holds a .244/.301/.314 hitting line over nearly 1,000 major-league plate appearances. With the exception of a strong stretch in the middle months of the 2008 season, he has not shown any ability to produce at the big-league level, and he has consistently garnered poor ratings on the defensive side. Casilla maintains some upside thanks to his quality minor-league track record, but at this point it's tough to view him as anything other than a potential utility infielder, and the Twins have plenty of those lined up. On top of everything, I'm fairly certain he's out of options, and given that there may very well be no room for him on the Twins' roster come April, unloading him for a player that can help the team this year could be something of a coup.
I'm not all that keen on Kouzmanoff. He's a low-OBP guy and the Twins are currently in need of players who can get on base. But when beat writers are indicating to fans that opposing general managers are trying to scam the Twins by asking for Perkins and Casilla in a trade, they're planting the wrong types of ideas in people's heads. From an objective standpoint, neither of those players has very much trade value at this point.