Friday, January 15, 2010

Who You Calling Crazy?

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.

21 comments:

Bryz said...

Reminds me of a comment that Jack Steal made to me on his podcast. It was something along the lines of, "Bill Smith must be living in fantasy land if he thinks that the Padres would be willing to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff for Glen Perkins." You weren't as blunt as him, but you're basically echoing what he said before, how it's not crazy that the Padres rejected this trade because Kouzmanoff is worth more than Perkins.

Nick N. said...

I just don't get where this notion is coming from that Perkins is some hugely valuable trade piece. He was a good (not spectacular) prospect but he's got a lot of baggage and he's proven rather little as a major-leaguer, with his tendency to give up lots of hits/homers and his dreadfully low strikeout rates.

Mike C said...

I thinkn they should offer a Perk and a minor leaguer. But heck, I wouldn't be totally against throwing a player like Casilla at them as well if they think Kouzmanoff is going to continue to be a solid 3b with potential to get better.

Anonymous said...

Nick,

Fantastic article!! I am going to mention your article on my podcast show tonight. I believe the beat writers of the Star and Tribune and Pioneer Press are bought off by the Twins front office because they are made accessable to them. To make the statement that Perkins and Casilla would be too much for a very sold third baseman like Kevin Kouzmanoff is just plain crazy.

The Twins front office never had any intention of making any moves to upgrade the roster and Joe Mauer is watching this all unfold. Why would Mauer want to come back to a inferior team and less money? Start spreading the news Mauer is gone unless the front office does something and soon.

Anonymous said...

I got the impression Neal was probably repeating something he's heard from a Twins offical. Doesn't make it any better though. I've learned to pay little attention to what the local strib writers say, since they're pretty much tools who will do little to jepordize there wonderful perks.

Nick N. said...

Jack/Anon,

I think you guys are being a little harsh. Neal and Christensen are generally more apt to voice their disagreement with the organization than a lot of beat writers, and while it's easy for us to sit here and accuse them of being pawns of the front office the fact is that beat writers rely on their sources within an organization to do their jobs. For their own professional well-being, they simply can't be as candid as people would sometimes like them to be.

With that being said, I'm pretty disappointed with this post from Neal. Either he's acting as a very transparent mouthpiece for the Twins or he has let his conversations with members of the organization to convince him that Perkins and Casilla are a lot more valuable than they actually are.

Pulverized Concepts said...

Perkins doesn't have a long history, he's only 26 years old. All but a very few prodigies are instant successes on the mound at the major league level. He's still learning his job. And the "head case" and problems with management relations are gossip fodder. He had/has a legitimate issue, we're talking about a lot of money. That doesn't make him mentally unbalanced. If you're looking for a hard throwing left-hander that's perfectly agreeable on everything, you might look for a long time.

JK said...

Good article and analysis. I disagree with the point that the Twins need OBP. They need good players. A good player can be all glove, like Crede. A good player can be all bat, like Kubel. In general, a run saved equals a run earned. I think Kouz is a 2-3 win player and getting him for Perkins and Casilla would be a great deal for the Twins.

Mike C said...

I agree with Nick, that people are being hard on Neal. He's voiced his opinions, not always favorable, many times. More so on the radio than on the blog or in the paper.

TT said...

Perkins has a lot more potential than people here seem to think. Likewise Casilla. It would be crazy to send both of them to San Diego for a guy whose upside is a mediocre third baseman.

Perkins alone could blow up on them, adding Casilla could make the trade look like Pierzynksi for Nathan, Bonser and Liriano. Except Pierzynski was worth more than Kouzmanoff. Casilla and Perkins could easily turn out to be worth more than Nathan, Bonser and the post-injury Liriano. A left handed starting pitcher and a solid everyday second baseman with great range and speed are worth more than a closer and two failing prospects.

Of course we all hope Liriano is back. But that hasn't happened yet.

Prince said...

This is good analysis of all the players involved. I would say the Padres would be crazy to trade Kouzmanoff for two really unproven places, atleast Kouzmanoff has proven to be everything that twins have been looking for in a Thirdbasemen since Koskie.

However, now looking at it, it would habe been a good deal for the padres. Surely, Casilla and Perkins have more upside than Scott Hairston and Adam Cunningham. Perkins alone, as a 26 year old back of the rotation starter has more value. It's this Hairston's 7th team in 7 years?

rghrbek said...

Moot point. Kouzie going to A's for Harriston and another dude.

Actually, what I think the A's are giving up is about the same or more than Perk/Cassilla for him.

If some of you wanted Kouzie here, you have to be bummed.

I would have been fine giving up both. We have a slew of crappy pitching prospects, that their highest ceiling is probably a 5th starter or long reliever. That's perkins. Plus he's ticked off gardy, which means he's not "one of his guys".

Nick, your post is a good one.

As far as beat writers go, I have to disagree a bit. Although I think LENIII and JC do an ok job, in a difficult situation, I also feel they hold back and don't always ask the tough questions.

I know the Twin's FO is very close to the vest with giving out info, and I don't blame them both for that, but I do think they give Gardy a free pass, or choose not to get very deep into hard topics, as they try to walk that line of being beat writers, who need to get access from teams, as to also be reporters who dig and get info for the fans.

If anyone needs to see how it "should" be done, read Michael Rands blogs articles at the strib. He's really connected and has no problems calling out coaches, players, and the front office. He's the best in the business and I am a 10th of a Wild fan as I am a Twins fan.

Just my opinion. Hopefully we target Lopez know.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Neal was far off. Yeah, Kouz has a 100 OPS+ but it is in the NL West. There is no way he's a 100 OPS+ guy in the AL. His defense is somewhat overrated, his UZR/150 this year was hightened b/c he only played 107 games at third (just like Crede).

I'm glad the Twins didn't make this trade. Resign Crede for a half year and bring up Valencia after he gets some ab at AAA

TT said...

Would anyone here deal Glen Perkins and Alex Casilla for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham, even if the Twins had holes in the outfield?

Steven Ellingson said...

TT,

Yes.

Anonymous said...

Either he's acting as a very transparent mouthpiece for the Twins or he has let his conversations with members of the organization to convince him that Perkins and Casilla are a lot more valuable than they actually are.

There's also the possibility that being close to the situation provides better perspective than those of us watching from the outside.

I don't think that's the case - I actually think La Velle's baseball acumen is on par with the KFAN guys, which is by no means a compliment.

That said, I still don't think the Twins should have offered much more than Perkins.

Luke in Mpls said...

It wouldn't have been crazy to trade Casilla/Perkins for Kouz, but it wasn't crazy not to.

Personally, I'll take the upside of our guys to the proven mediocrity of Kouz.

Nick N. said...

It wouldn't have been crazy to trade Casilla/Perkins for Kouz, but it wasn't crazy not to.

That's basically my stance. I'm not going to pout over missing out on Kouzmanoff, but La Velle's post really didn't seem very well thought out.

Anonymous said...

This is awful. Neal said crazy. and then "OH NOS! HE DUZNT KNOW KOOZMANOFF IS A LITTLE BETTER THAN GLEN PERKINZ!!! WHTA A DUMMIE!!! LOL!!!"

Nick N. said...

This is awful. Neal said crazy. and then "OH NOS! HE DUZNT KNOW KOOZMANOFF IS A LITTLE BETTER THAN GLEN PERKINZ!!! WHTA A DUMMIE!!! LOL!!!"

That's a good, well-reasoned assessment of this piece. Nice job.

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