Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bullpen candidate profile: Glen Perkins

Glen Perkins: 80 games
pitched in the majors,
44 starts.
Pitcher: Glen Perkins
Throws: Left
Age: Turns 28 in March
Roster status: 40 man roster; out of options
Chance of making team: Good

Glen Perkins has more than 300 major league innings on his resume and a career record of 19-12, compiled mainly as a starting pitcher. He also has a career ERA of 4.81, a couple of lengthy stints on the disabled list and a service time dispute that soured his relations with the organization.

It appears from this distance that the rift between Perkins and the front office has been smoothed over; the Minnesota born-and-raised lefty was part of the Twins caravan this winter, which is one reason I believe the Twins really want Perkins to make the team this spring.

Another, more significant reason: He's out of options, so he's use-or-lose. And they have a fairly significant investment in him as former first-round pick.

He has been, thus far, their most successful pick in the 2004 draft. The Twins were loaded with picks in the early rounds that June after the free-agent defections of Eddie Guardado and LaTroy Hawkins. The Twins took Perkins with the 22nd overall pick; the New York Yankees followed with Phil Hughes. Oops.

Perkins was the second player the Twins picked, after Trevor Plouffe, the shortstop who spent a little time on the big club roster last season. Kyle Waldrop, a non-roster invitee who'll be part of this series, was also a first round pick. In the supplemental round, the Twins took Matt Fox -- winner starter of what I thought might have been the Twins most crucial game of the 2010 season (Alex Burnett blew the lead and vultured the "W") and now out of the organization -- and Jay Rainville, who is out of baseball. In the second round, they landed Anthony Swarzak, also on the 40 and also a bullpen candidate. The only other guy in that draft who matters today is Matt Tolbert, taken in the 16th round.

Ron Gardenhire has said in the past that he and pitching coach Rick Anderson held different views on Perkins; Gardy saw him as a starter, Anderson as a reliever. At the time Gardenhire said that, it appeared that Perkins was establishing himself as a starter. Now it's shifted in Anderson's direction. Perkins is ticketed for the bullpen.

The question is if that will work. Perkins' career track record against left-handed hitters isn't impressive: .319/.393/,447; his OPS (on-base plus slugging) is actually worse against lefties than against righties. As a second lefty in the pen, he'd be expected to take some LOOGY duties.

Supposedly, Perkins last season in Triple A developed a breaking ball that makes him more effective against lefties. It's a small sample size (32 PA), but he did have more success against lefties during his brief time in the majors last season (.241/.313/.345). If that's sustainable, Perkins will be an effective reliever.

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