Monday, July 30, 2012

Further thoughts on the Liriano trade

Francisco Liriano and
pitching coach Rick Anderson
in 2011.
My Monday print column on the Francisco Liriano trade of Saturday night can be found here. It's short, deliberately so; it was a tight sports section, and between Vikings training camp and the Olympics, there was plenty of other things to fit into the limited space.

So I'll expound further here.


The wonders of social media reveals that a vocal number of Twins fans believe the Twins didn't get enough for Liriano. They expected more than a couple of Grade C minor leaguers.

Chalk this reaction up to what I think of as "Dick Bremer Disease" — the tendency many, if not all, of us have of taking a player's best short-term performance and holding that as the yardstick of his talent.

I saddle Bremer with the name, perhaps unfairly, because back in 2002, Torii Hunter hit .371 in the first month of the season, and Bremer latched onto that performance as a legitimate measure of Hunter's ability. It took years before Bremer stopped talking about Hunter as a guy who could hit for a high average.

Hunter wasn't a legitimate .300 hitter, of course. He just had a particularly good month.

Twins fans latched onto Liriano's periodic strong stretches and held those times to be who he is. About a half season of 2006; the last two months of 2008; most of 2010; his recent stretch of good starts this year. All told, a bit more than two seasons worth of quality pitching.

Two seasons — over a seven-year period.

Yes, Liriano was brilliant in 2006 until he got hurt. That isn't how the rest of baseball sees him, because he has too many other stretches in which he was awful, injured or both.

We may value Liriano as the wunderkind of '06. The rest of the world doesn't.


You may have seen elsewhere that Baseball America this winter ranked Eduardo Escobar, the shortstop the Twins got in Saturday's trade, as the White Sox' No. 10 prospect. The value of that ranking is somewhat diminished by the fact that BA regarded the Sox system as the weakest in the game.

Pedro Hernandez wasn't to be found the BA rankings for the Sox, but that's because he was included in the San Diego system; he came to the White Sox in the Carlos Quintin trade in late December. He was No. 23 on the Padres list.

Hernandez, as I indicated in the print column, is the acquisition I have the most hope for. The scouting reports I've seen on him say he has command, he has a quality change, and he has gained velocity in the past couple of years, from 87 mph or so to 90-92 mph.
Jeff Manship was
6-2, 2.35 in
Rochester this year.

What isn't clear is the quality of his breaking ball, and whether he can develop a usable one may determine his future as a major league pitcher.


Escobar and Hernandez are now on the Twins' 40-man roster; they cleared a spot by putting P.J. Walters on the 60-day disabled list, as they did last week with Carl Pavano. Walters last pitched on June 13, so he can't be reactived until sometime in mid-August — and as far as I know he won't be ready before then anyway. 

Jeff Manship got the call to replace Liriano on the 25-man roster. He may get to start; while Brian Duensing had a successful outing Sunday filling in for Liriano, the Indians are particularly vulnerable to lefties. It will be interesting to see which way Ron Gardenhire goes with this one.

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