Mike Pelfrey has earned $9.5 million in two seasons with the Twins. For that expenditure, his employers had received five wins, 16 losses, a 5.56 ERA and a total of 176 1/3 innings in 34 starts.
That’s an average of a fraction over five innings per start. He also had allowed 213 hits, a hits-to-inning ratio guaranteed to lead to failure.
The Twins’ front office and the previous field staff would defend Pelfrey by pointing to two things: A) He was such an exceptional competitor that he returned much earlier than the norm from Tommy John surgery to be in the Twins’ rotation to open the 2013 season; and B) he was a terrific teammate and a pure professional as a pitcher.
The Twins were so suckered in by Point A that they gave Pelfrey a two-year, $11 million contract to return in 2014, even after his awful performance in 2013 – 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA – assisted the 66-96 record and 13th-place finish in the American League.
Pelfrey made five horrible starts in 2014, 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA, and did not pitch after May 1 due to a groin injury. He received $5.5 million in salary for that, and is due the same amount for 2015.
On Saturday, the Twins announced they were sending 25-year-old starter Trevor May to Class AAA Rochester, to join 25-year-old Alex Meyer to form the oldest exacta of red-hot pitching prospects in all of organized baseball.
With some luck, maybe May and Meyer can lead the U.S. staff in this summer’s Futures Oldtimers Game during All-Star festivities in Cincinnati, perhaps dueling against Lester Oliveros and Deolis Guerra for the World team.
As part of the roster decisions, the Twins also said that lefthander Tommy Milone will open as the Twins’ fifth starter, and all 6-foot-7 of Long Mike will be assigned duty in the bullpen.
The response of Pelfrey, the terrific teammate and pure professional?
Eyewitness accounts from reporters tell us Pelfrey was genuinely angry over this, saying the Twins had misled him over the fairness of the competition – and that he deserved the job because he had outpitched Milone in exhibitions.
Here’s the truth: Neither Milone nor Pelfrey deserves to be in the rotation of a big-league team that takes itself seriously, but the Twins offered Milone arbitration and were stuck with his $2.775 million salary, and Pelfrey’s making the $5.5 million, which meant that May was always doomed to be the candidate to be unfairly judged.
The humorous angle in Saturday’s discussion on Pelfrey was that the 31-year-old righthander was so frustrated that he was now open to a trade.
OK, let’s form two lines: the teams not interested in Mike Pelfrey as a starter on the left, and the Sioux City Explorers and the Kansas City T-Bones on the right.