According to Sporting News, there’s a good chance Mike Pelfrey, who turned 27 years-old in January, could become trade bait before 2012. The former first round pick and current “ace” of the Mets currently makes a hair under $4 million this season, but with Scott Boras by his side, it’s inevitable that he’ll attempt to command a large contract in the near future. While Sporting News alludes to how Sandy Alderson once helped orchestrate the Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder blockbusters (trading them at the peak of their value), and how he could take a similar approach with Pelfrey, Alderson might run into one small problem this time around–Pelfrey isn’t close to an ace pitcher.
Mike Pelfrey isn’t a bad pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s also not a great pitcher. This greatness happens to be a label any executive would have associated with Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder when they were Pelfrey’s current age. To date, Pelfrey owns a career 43 Wins, 4.41 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and 1.54 K/BB ratio. In comparison, Tim Hudson, by age 28, owned a career 92 Wins, 3.30 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.35 K/BB ratio before being traded in 2004 to the Atlanta Braves for Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer, and Charles Thomas. Similarly, Mark Mulder, by age 26, owned a career 81 Wins, 3.92 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.24 K/BB ratio before his trade (two after Hudson was dealt) to the St. Louis Cardinals for Dan Haren, Daric Barton, and Kiko Calero. Essentially, while both Hudson and Mulder established themselves as aces at around the same age Pelfrey is today, Pelfrey still has noticeable issues with consistency dominating opposing hitters.
This is not to say that “Big Pelf” hasn’t ever looked the part of an ace. In 2010, Pelfrey had a series of terrific months (see: March/April, August, and September/October), but a particularly horrendous July (0-3, 10.02 ERA, 2.66 WHIP, and 0.77 K/BB ratio) led to an overall “meh” season. The big hurler also hasn’t looked good in either of his first two starts this season, posting 0 Wins, 15.63 ERA (11 ER), 2.68 WHIP, and a 0.60 K/BB ratio in 6.3 unimpressive innings.
Granted, Pelfrey has a long season ahead of him to prove he’s better than his career stats clearly illustrate, but unless Pelf’s lack of consistency changes, it would certainly hurt his potential trade value. If the Mets (and Sandy Alderson) do decide to dangle Pelfrey at some point, they’ll only receive the going rate for a solid number three pitcher with Scott Boras as his agent.