Grading the Minnesota Twins' First Half

It has been rough for Minnesota, but at least a pair of relievers get high marks.

When your team is 13 games below .500, the trade deadline can be similar to Christmas in July. Except maybe minus the joy… and you have to give something up to get your presents… and you don’t get to open your presents until they get to the majors in a few years. So, basically, it’s still filled with despair. Thank God for Joe Mauer’s twin daughters, or people may be forced to focus on baseball in Minnesota. Ain’t nobody want that.

This July, the Twins are fairly limited at the trade deadline because, well, they really don’t have much to offer. That’s apparently the case when you have the third worst run differential in the American League. Let’s look at what the Twins do have in their arsenal and grade it in the trade market.

Reading the Report Card

Glen Perkins – A

He’s left-handed. He throws gas. He has the fifth lowest FIP and the seventh lowest xFIP among pitchers with at least 39 innings this year, and his 11.77 K/9 is the tenth highest among pitchers with that total. And he loves Dumbo. What more could you ask for??? The problem here is that Perkins is most likely unavailable, despite having one of the friendliest contracts on the team (under team control until 2015 with an option for 2016 at just above $3 million per year). The drop off from here is bwaaaaaaaah ugly.

Jared Burton – B

After a bumpy mid-June/early July, Burton has returned to his 2012 form. Burton is riding an eight-appearance/8.2-inning scoreless streak dating back to July 1st. Burton’s 3.54 FIP and 4.17 xFIP are a bit higher than desired, but those were both driven up his high walk totals in May and June, a problem he has since fixed with only two walks in July. Burton is signed through 2014 with a team option for 2015, so he, like Perkins, has a favorable contract.

Justin Morneau – B-

The numbers this year are getting progressively uglier. Morneau is hitting .183 in July with only four RBI in 71 at-bats. It’s hard to imagine a first-baseman with seven home runs and a .723 OPS yielding much at the trade deadline. However, Morneau is a former MVP and a left-handed bat that you can immediately insert into the middle of your line-up. If a team is willing to overlook the questionable production and checkered injury history (ummmm, unlikely), Morneau could still land a very meh prospect. If the Twins don’t trade Morneau, it will only be because his value is irrevocably low.

Trevor Plouffe – C+

Plouffe, like Morneau, picked a great time to plummet into the depths of hell offensively. Ever since I ingeniously wrote that Plouffe would need to have a huge second half, he has gone 1-19 with 10 strikeouts, taking his July OPS to a Matt Tolbert-esque .569. I am an idiot.

The two big things that Plouffe brings to the table at the deadline are his age (27) and contract situation (arbitration eligible for 2014). Plouffe could provide some help for a team looking for a right-handed bat, and his glove at third is no longer as cement-y as it used to be. Now that I’m saying this, he’s definitely going to commit six errors within the next week, all of which will cost the Twins games.

Mike Pelfrey – C+

Pelfrey is one of the few Twins whose trade stock is on the rise. His ERA has gone down in each of his last eight starts, but when you start that run at 6.85, that’s not saying a whole lot. Pelfrey’s 4.10 FIP is hovering right above where it was when he had success with the Mets, so it’s safe to say that ERA should come down more as the season goes on. With a 2.28 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in the month of July, Pelfrey could get some looks from contenders seeking a back-end-of-the-rotation veteran for the stretch run. I never thought I’d be saying Mike Pelfrey has trade value on July 26th. This is weird.

Joe Mauer – F-

This guy sucks. You definitely don’t want to trade for him. Nope. His .407 OBP doesn’t translate to success elsewhere. JUST LET ME KEEP THIS ONE LITTLE SPARK OF JOY IN MY LIFE. Otherwise I will unleash the wrath of 10 My-Little-Pony-loving basement nerds on you. That’s one battle you don’t want to start, home boy.

Jim Sannes covers baseball and the Minnesota Twins weekly for numberFire. Let him know what you think on Twitter @JimSannes.