Should the Twins Chase Brad Penny?

Update:  2:34pm

According to Joe C., the Twins would consider picking up the rest of Penny's salary by claiming him on waivers.  Christensen estimates Minnesota could owe Penny $1.11 to $1.44 million depending on incentives.  He also says the Twins "are considering a move" for Ron Mahay.

When the Red Sox cut Brad Penny loose Wednesday night, every team in baseball looking for a starting pitcher (and it's more than a few) had their ears perked up.  No doubt calls were made to inquire on Penny's health, both physical and mental, but with our own starting rotation in shambles is there any chance the Twins were on that list of callers?

It's been said that the Sox have "overreacted to a recent poor stretch of results" in regards to releasing Penny, and it's true.  His last five starts haven't exactly been his best stretch, as they've included one quality start, two starts that I'd call disappointing, and then another pair of outings that were definitely rotten.  That includes his last outing, where he allowed eight runs in four innings.  Poor overall results, for sure.

Prior to this poor stretch however, Penny rattled off a series of 12 starts where he compiled a 3.67 ERA. This summer has been a better one, compared to 2008, as his strikeout rates are up and are his best in three seasons, his walk rates are down and also are his best in three seasons, and he's done a decent job of keeping the ball in the park.

The fact is that Penny has actually had a pretty decent year, in spite of a few poor outings, and the worst thing you can say about him is that he isn't the most efficient worker.  He averaged less than six innings per start over that 12-game stretch, and he hasn't been deeper than 6.1 innings in a start all season.

There's belief that wherever Penny signs, he'd be better off in the National League.  Ken Rosenthal spoke to a GM who insisted Brad would be "stupid to stay in the AL", but this is based on the notion that Penny just hasn't had as much success in the American League.  Which makes no sense, considering this is the one and only time in his career where he's been on an AL squad.  His 4.48 FIP isn't great, but it is better than the 5.27 number he posted with the Dodgers in 2008.

Penny still boasts a good mid-90's fastball, which hasn't been as effective as it was as recently as 2007, but he's still bouncing back from last summer when he missed a great deal of time due to his throwing shoulder.  This could also be the reason his curveball, which has been so devastating against right-handed hitters over the years, hasn't been anything better than his worst pitch all season.

Boston took a gamble on Penny, worth a mid-range $5 million, and for a while it certainly looked like a steal.  If a team wants him before Monday, they'll be on the hook for a pro-rated portion of his salary, or about $830,000.  He's also due $500,000 in incentives each time he hits 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings pitched, and a cool million for 200.  At 131 innings on the season, he'd be fortunate enough to hit 160 innings let alone anything more.  But if a team waits until Monday, when Penny passes through waivers, his services would be worth less than $100,000.

Is Penny a better, or at least more consistent, bet than Brian Duensing or Armando Gabino?  You bet he is.  This doesn't mean he could save the rotation, but if the Twins can get him for change they'd be better for it.

2009 - Brad Penny 7-8 24 24 0 0 0 0 131.2 160 89 82 17 42 89 5.61 1.53

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