• Liriano's Success Is Tough To Stomach

    On Monday night, Francisco Liriano spun perhaps his most impressive gem in a season that's been full of them. Facing the Padres in San Diego, the lefty hurled seven scoreless innings, striking out 13 and allowing only four hits to pick up his 14th win of the campaign.

    Through 19 starts for Pittsburgh, Liriano holds a 2.53 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 126/47 strikeout-to-walk ratio with only five home runs allowed in 121 innings. He has been, in a word, sensational -- the ace starter for a team that appears headed for the playoffs. His 13 strikeouts on Monday night were six more than any Twins pitcher has tallied in a start this season.

    Meanwhile, a Minnesota team that let him walk after several maddeningly inconsistent seasons remains anchored near the bottom of the standings, with a rotation that continues to be one of the worst in the league while offering little hope for improvement.

    To be sure, there are plenty of ways you can couch this situation so that it doesn't reflect quite so poorly on Twins management. He posted a 5.18 ERA during his final two seasons in Minny, and his production was essentially identical in 12 outings after being traded to the White Sox last year. He continued to hurt his own case with a bizarre offseason injury.

    Of course, as the Twins and their defenders will emphasize, Liriano's success this year has come in the National League, where opposing lineups are less threatening and less familiar with the left-hander's arsenal.

    Still, all of those excuses fall short with me. The NL might be an easier pitching environment but it's still the major leagues, and Liriano's performance doesn't merely look good in contrast to Minnesota's motley crew. We're talking about a Cy Young contender here. He may not be a terribly strong contender due to his late start and the assortment of incredible pitching performances in the Senior Circuit this year, but Liriano leads his league in wins and ranks among the top 10 in K/9 rate, ground ball rate, ERA, xFIP and home run rate.

    Many Twins fans have taken this as another opportunity to lash out at Rick Anderson. I'm not taking that route. Anderson worked hard to straighten out the erratic southpaw and for the most part I think Frankie created his own problems. However, it was always clear from watching Liriano that he had immense talent, and he's still in the middle of his physical prime at 29 years old. Rather than gamble on that ability with minimal risk (the Pirates ended up guaranteeing him only a million dollars on a one-year deal, and now have a fairly cheap option on him for 2014 as well) the Twins chose to take the "safe" approach, going with proven veteran mediocrities like Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey -- signings that have predictably paid no dividends.

    Sure, maybe Liriano would have continued down the same path had he remained in Minnesota. Maybe he wasn't even interested in staying, although it wouldn't have been too difficult to healthily outbid the Bucs. Whichever way you look at the situation, the Twins just don't come out looking good. They either failed repeatedly to help Liriano reach his potential, or screwed up by declining to take a chance on him finding it again despite their utterly desperate need for pitching.

    Whatever the case, with this type of judgment it's not hard to see why the Twins have worked their way into such a pitiful state with their rotation. Developments like this it make it all the more challenging to believe that the current leadership can do what it takes to get things turned around.
    This article was originally published in blog: Liriano's Success Is Tough To Stomach started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 107 Comments
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Deduno? All I know is he's been pitching in the majors and he wasn't before, so he appears to have improved.
      The discussion was about whether Anderson had helped anyone improve once they reached the majors. Someone used Deduno as an example, but has he really improved since he moved up to the Twins? Or did he improve in AAA to get called up and then stagnate?

      (I think he had improved some until his shoulder started giving him problems.)
    1. Old Twins Cap's Avatar
      Old Twins Cap -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      When you put it that way, we as fans have actually let the Twins down.
      It is our fault. Look at attendance: 30K regularly, sometimes a lot more.

      What motivation does the Twins FO have for doing something different?

      It's working just fine the way it's going now.
    1. iastfan112's Avatar
      iastfan112 -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      When a story like this becomes recurring, to me, it represents a drastic problem with those perpetrating the current "Twins Way". All of them. Over the last decade or so, there are several stories like this, and the players themselves have takes that support there was a problem with the way they were treated, and their performance blossomed when relieved of the "way".
      Ortiz, Liriano and ?

      JJ Hardy really isn't an example, he's hit about as well the past two seasons as he would've back in his season with the Twins if he'd avoided the wrist injury.

      Carlos Gomez and Kyle Lohse aren't examples as they didn't succeed until a number of years after they left(half a decade in Lohse's case).
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Well according to Liriano, his command improved due to changing his arm angle.

      Fastball command sparks Liriano comeback | TribLIVE

      Seems like those kind of adjustments generally fall under the realm of coaches, so yes, I'd say Anderson does deserve some scrutiny for not trying this technique with Liriano while in Minnesota.
      Not to give Anderson an out, but maybe the guy was so befuddled he became uncoachable. Change of scenery might be some of it.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      I don't think it's Liriano's success that's so hard to stomach as it is our entire starting staff's lack thereof.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Did Hendriks get better? Gibson? Albers? Deduno? Worley? Pelfrey? Correia?

      Which pitchers got better the more they worked with Anderson in the last 5 years?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Old Twins Cap View Post
      It is our fault. Look at attendance: 30K regularly, sometimes a lot more.

      What motivation does the Twins FO have for doing something different?

      It's working just fine the way it's going now.
      Excellent point. And that's the scary thing...when we start speaking with our checkbooks, it's only going to make some of the team's tendencies dig in even deeper.

      To me, the best reason to rush Sano/Rosario/Buxton is to get them up before the crowds start to dwindle and all that cash that everyone plans to spend in three years doesn't dry up. (I don't agree with rushing them, but if I was going to pick a reason to, that would be it)
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Did Hendriks get better? Gibson? Albers? Deduno? Worley? Pelfrey? Correia?

      Which pitchers got better the more they worked with Anderson in the last 5 years?
      Now THIS is hilarious!

      Well, mike, ya got me there. Great point. And perfect examples. I mean, of COURSE all these guys would have done better if only they had a competetent pitching coach.

      Wow, just wow.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Now THIS is hilarious!

      Well, mike, ya got me there. Great point. And perfect examples. I mean, of COURSE all these guys would have done better if only they had a competetent pitching coach.

      Wow, just wow.
      I can only give examples that are real, I can't just make up names. So, I named some names. Go ahead, name the MLB pitcher that got better the longer he worked with Anderson.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      From the current roster? OK. Perkins, Swarzak, Duensing, Burton, Pressly, Deduno, Fien, Burton, Roenicke, Thielbar, and Albers. All better than when they came here. Pedro Hernandez too. Oh, and the argument can be strongly made that both Liriano and Lohse got better under Anderson before they got worse. Go figure. Which is why I think it's specious at best to pin Liriano on Anderson.

      And one can easily expand the list by looking at rosters from previous years. And one could make a second list of all the pitchers who got crappy once they left here. My guess is that if you made a list in support of Anderson and a second one that incriminates him, the favorable one would be much much longer. After all, he's a MLB pitching coach.

      And as for your "real" names, Albers, Worley, Gibson, Pelfrey, Correia... come on, mike. Those aren't valid examples of anything! Worley got injured. Albers, Hendriks, and Gibson are wet behind the ears and the jury's out. Pelfrey is a veteran coming coming back from injury, and Correia certainly has been exactly as advertised. Do you really think you made a case against Anderson with these examples? And with the standard being that, since they didn't get "better", even if they didn't get worse, Andy's a bad coach? Wow, just wow.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      From the current roster? OK. Perkins, Swarzak, Duensing, Burton, Pressly, Deduno, Fien, Burton, Roenicke, Thielbar, and Albers. All better than when they came here. Pedro Hernandez too.
      So the starters he's helped improve are Deduno, Albers, and Hernandez. But you already acknowledged the jury is out on Albers, and Hernandez didn't actually improve.

      So Deduno is the one starter you can name that Anderson's improved.

      He's certainly been fun to watch, but so were other low-K groundballers like Blackburn, Mays, and Silva at some relatively brief point in their careers.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Do the Twins have a bad pitching coach or just bad pitchers? That's the core issue here. This team had pretty good pitching staffs for many years under Anderson, back when they had the ability to identify decent talent.

      Also, Birdwatcher, please make your points without repetitively adding remarks like "Wow, just wow" at the end. No need for that.
    1. Reginald Maudling's Shin's Avatar
      Reginald Maudling's Shin -
      Albers has 3 starts. How do we know Andy helped him? What adjustments did he gave to make after the first two complete game (almost) shutouts?

      Liriano probably just needed a change in scenery and a new voice, and a kick on the ass to be honest. But overall, Nick is right in that this outcome is unacceptable. It's almost surreal that a guy can go from worst starter on the worst staff in baseball to CY candidate over the course of one offseason. The Twins let go a guy who is now a legit CY candidate in his prime for nothing. If its not an indictment on Anderson and the coaching staff then I don't know what is. They failed in getting production out of a guy with a lot of talent, bottom line.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Do the Twins have a bad pitching coach or just bad pitchers? That's the core issue here. This team had pretty good pitching staffs for many years under Anderson, back when they had the ability to identify decent talent.
      Not saying Anderson is bad, just saying that there doesn't seem to be much evidence that he's turned many starters around.

      If I had a choice between the Twins dropping Anderson or their dreadful infatuation with pitching to contact, well, let's just say there wouldn't be a lot of pacing or head-scratching...
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Personally I don't see how this year proves anything either way. We already knew he had talent, and we already knew that occasionally he would put it together for a banner year (2006,2010,2013?).

      The knock on Liriano has always been can he do it consistently (yes, there's that word again)? I don't care if he does win the Cy Young this year. Great for him, and as someone who likes rooting for underdogs, I'm happy for Pittsburgh and their fans. Unless he does the same thing next year then nothing in the Liriano story has changed and any comments on coaching staff effectiveness are moot.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      The Liriano story will become a Twins myth, so to speak, like the Ortiz story.

      Ortiz got too expensive. He was hurt. Yes, maybe he didn't see eye-to-eye with the Twins Way and coaching. The Twins had to cut him loose unless they felt the desire to pay more than they thought he was worth at the time. ALL the other teams except Boston passed on him. He signed for a salary that the Twins themselves would've been happy to pay, but you can't cut a salary that low to a player back then according to union rules and regs.

      Liriano was fighting the Twins Way. Time will tell if he is putting unnecessary strain on his arm to get him a continued great contract next season. The Twins would not have been able to resign Liriano. Even for what Pittsburgh ended up paying him this season (remember, alot of other teams passed on giving him any sort of contract, Pittsburgh seemed nuts with their initial offer but ended up getting a steal because Liriano ended up being...Liriano). I would argue that there was too much bad blood happening with the Twins, that there was no way Liriano was going to be a Twins lifer. He had to get out. He had to go somewhere. The Twins actually got something for him. Better than having him add absolutely nothing to a losing season and walking. Escobar and Hernandez might actually be capable backups for another season or two. Maybe one will shine and get flipped for another prospect or two and something will come of that.

      These days it is all about money. How much a team will pay. How much a player wants. And do either really need each other. We'll probably see it happen with Morneau...the Twins lowballing a player again and him signing elsewhere for a competitive contract that the Twins could match. We saw it in Nathan...why do I have to ask the Twins to match something someone offered me. We saw it in Cuddyer, who held out ad got what he was seeking and the Twins seemed happy getting a lower priced alternative. We saw it in Kubel who was low-balled by the Twins for a one-year contract and ended up with a respectible multi-year deal.

      Stop complaining about Liriano (and still Ortiz). We got nothing for Nathan, Kubel, Cuddyer...no Escobar, no Hernandez, no additional year of Lecroy as DH and third-string catcher. The reality is that a team has to strike early and wrap up a player (and then we get Mays and Blackburn and Silva) or play it loose and take the risk of the walk.
      The bolded is not accurate at all.
      Ortiz played his last year here for 950k, then went to BOST where he signed for $1.25 million. That is a pay raise, not a pay cut.
      In fact, he was still under team control, if the Twins wanted him all they had to do was offer ARB, which would have paid him only slightly more than he signed with BOST for, probably about $1.5 to $1.8 million.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      So the starters he's helped improve are Deduno, Albers, and Hernandez. But you already acknowledged the jury is out on Albers, and Hernandez didn't actually improve.

      So Deduno is the one starter you can name that Anderson's improved.

      He's certainly been fun to watch, but so were other low-K groundballers like Blackburn, Mays, and Silva at some relatively brief point in their careers.
      LaBombo, don't miss my point. My point is that we can make a bunch of lists of pitchers who improved and declined, here or somewhere else, but that doing so doesn't really prove squat diddly. I don't have the foggiest idea as to whether Anderson is a below average MLB pitching coach or not, and neither do you. As for Liriano? There are a ton of variables- his TJ recovery, his messed up head, Anderson, the Chicago pitching coach that smugly claimed he had just the right tweak in mind- and we're all just guessing about why he was the Franchise here, then an erratic mess here and in Chicago, and now a Cy Young candidate again.

      Some people are lashing out at Anderson. I'm not defending him, just merely pointing out that you have to be awfully astute to have figured out that Anderson's the culprit. I think the Anderson bashers are guessing, and in some cases the examples in support of their view are so flimsy that they're funny.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      [QUOTE=Reginald Maudling's Shin;155288]Albers has 3 starts. How do we know Andy helped him? What adjustments did he gave to make after the first two complete game (almost) shutouts?

      We don't know if Andy helped him. That's the point.

      Alber's name was thrown out there by mike wants wins as proof that, since Andy didn't "improve" him, he must be a bad coach. I threw him on a "good coach" list to show how ridiculous it is to throw him on ANY list and claim it means something.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I don't think the takeaway from Liriano is "Anderson is a bad coach."

      I think the takeaway is "the Twins as an organization are more comfortable giving money to a low floor, low ceiling pitcher like Kevin Carries, who would serve just fine as rotation insurance on a good team but is ill suited to really improve your team, than they are a guy like Liriano, who might bomb but has proven to have the talent to really be a difference maker."

      IMO that is what is hard to take, and what must change. And I put the blame for that on the GM.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      It works both ways Mike. You'd be right in questioning any unflattering conclusion drawn from a few examples like Lohse or Liriano, just like you'd be right drawing the opposite conclusion from examples like Fien or Deduno.
      Liriano is having a Cy Young season
      Dickie had a Cy Young season
      Lohse is having his third excellent season in a row

      Deduno barely is a fifth starter in a competitive team (no matter what he is in the Twins)
      Fien is a AAAA player who is coming back to earth after his .1xx BABIP the first half.

      Apples and pineapples as far as impact goes...
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.