Thursday, February 10, 2011

Liriano inferences, part II

Joe Christensen has a piece today on the Twins and Francisco Liriano that draws similar inferences to my post of last Saturday -- and goes further, suggesting that the Twins may well next month look to peddle the talented southpaw.

It makes logical sense. But it doesn't make emotional sense, and therein is the problem.

Francisco Liriano: Let the trade speculation begin.
It's one thing for an also-ran to trade its best starting pitcher -- Kansas City and Zach Greinke, to name a prominent example from this winter. It's another thing for a contender to do that. Very few general managers are that secure and confident, no matter how much they like the return.

One of the issues is the clubhouse. A team that expects to win -- and the Twins are one such -- can be expected to react poorly to excising a key component. If the trade is made in December or January, people have time to absorb it; if it's made in March or July, after the team has assembled, it's a shock.

I have nothing but contempt for the Steve Phillips trade-deadline philosophy that a contender has to make a deal simply to show the players that the front office is trying. That kind of thinking ultimately got Phillips fired as a general manager. But there's a difference between overpaying for a veteran in the stretch and moving a key piece of the roster with the future in mind.

All that said, it's certainly possible to envision a Liriano trade this spring that improves the club for 2011 and beyond. Let's say they get a young shortstop who offers less risk and higher reward than Alexi Casilla; a decent relief pitcher; and a couple of talented low-level arms. That's a deal I could applaud, and a deal that the clubhouse might quickly accept.

I don't know from whom that haul would come. I know it won't be the Yankees; they haven't a long-term shortstop option on their horizon (a fact that shadowed the Derek Jeter contract drama and the subsequent speculation of a position change for the Captain).


  1. (Nice photo, Ed. I like those road uniforms.)

    Liriano is either going to become the pitcher he seemed to be back in 2006, or he's not. I would bet that he won't. But he's still so talented with such a great possibility. I'm glad it's not my decision to make.

  2. Yes - it would have to be a haul. If not - then it is a cost dump and nothing more. Santana redux. Which was a point in getting the new stadium...that we could keep our stars. But just as the Cards are about to find out with Mr. Pujols, spending 20% + of your payroll on one player can be a killer. They can only trade him if he does well which goes against the grain since if he is the pitcher from 2009, who wants him?