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  • Hard Truths

    When the news came down this weekend that the Twins had traded Francisco Liriano to the White Sox for a pair of middling 23-year-old prospects, the reaction around here was understandably negative. The same questions echoed in the minds of fans across the state.

    Why did the Twins deal Liriano in the wake of his worst start of the season?

    Why did they back away from their stated goal of adding young, high-upside talent?

    And why – WHY – did they send a potential difference-maker to the one team that almost no Twins fan wants to see hoisting a trophy in October?

    The answers to these questions aren't especially difficult to figure. Terry Ryan settled on dealing Liriano to the Sox because they had the best offer on the table and he didn't expect better ones to come by Tuesday. Of course he would have preferred to pry away younger prospects with higher ceilings, but even with the increased number of buyers brought on by the new postseason format, clearly teams weren't knocking at the door to hand over those kinds of players.

    And while that's disappointing, it shouldn't be all that surprising.

    It's not because of Liriano's clunker last Tuesday (which happened to come against the team that traded for him). General managers aren't stupid enough to view one outing in a vacuum when it comes to evaluating a pitcher. Bad starts happen. The problem is that, with Frankie, they've happened too often over the past five years.

    Since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2008, Liriano owns a 4.69 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Utterly mediocre numbers that have been very much in line with the ones he's posted this year. For all his flurries of brilliance, the league is also vividly aware of the fragility – physical, mental or both – that has made him so insanely inconsistent and unreliable.

    Rental players, in general, don't garner huge returns because no one wants to mortgage the future for two months of production from an impending free agent – particularly when it's a pitcher who is going to make, at most, a dozen starts. Occasionally a savvy GM can take advantage of one club's desperation, but in this case it became clear that nobody fully trusted Liriano. (Admit it, that includes you.)

    Based on the left-hander's recent run of success, fans were overrating their own asset and setting expectations too high, putting Ryan in an unfortunate position. There was literally no way he was going to be able to acquit himself in this situation; holding on to Liriano made no real sense and the impact offers weren't there.

    And sadly, I suspect he'll have a hard time making up for it in these final hours before Tuesday afternoon's deadline, because while trade chips like Denard Span and Josh Willingham are more appealing with multi-year contracts, they still don't have the kind of value that many fans want to believe.

    Jim Crikket had it right when he wrote two weeks ago that we should be prepared for disappointment during the days leading up to the deadline. In a season like this one, I guess we shouldn't have expected anything else.
    This article was originally published in blog: Hard Truths started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 101 Comments
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      The hard truth is that he is a knuckle head, run him out of town!
    1. tobynotjason's Avatar
      tobynotjason -
      So GUESSING that a better offer won't materialize after a guy whose stuff per pitch f/x is unequivocally, demonstrably, objectively TOTALLY DIFFERENT than it was in 2011 and early 2012 (and actually even better than 2010) makes another start is OK, because, y'know, "he didn't expect better[offers] to come by Tuesday".

      Just: no. The F.O. is toast. At least Liriano, of whom I'm a much bigger fan at this point than the Twins Org., writ large, will get a chance to work with a real pitching coach.
    1. Tuba's Avatar
      Tuba -
      I remember when he was put in the bullpen a few months ago and everyone here was saddened because we all knew frankie would work it out. Absolutely no one called for him to be released or anything like that. We all stood by him because we believed in him.

      So to lose him for two mediocre at best players is truly heartbreaking for all of us that had faith in Liriano through thick and thin. Because absolutely none of us called for him to be demoted, even at 0-5 with a 9.45 era. We all knew he had it in him.

      So long Francisco Liriano y Casillas, I shall shed tears for thee
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      This trade will not be viewed favorably in the future. A team this desparate for starting pitching should not be so cavalier about dumping the best arm in it's system.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      Agree with everything you've said here, Nick.

      I continue to be perplexed by the number of people who are so convinced that we could have gotten so much more for him. They seem to be valuing him based solely on his upside while ignoring his downside, but even the dumbest of MLB front offices is smart enough not to do that.

      And when it comes to a guy at his age with his experience, you can't be talking about "potential" anymore. He is what he is. A guy who ranges from brilliant to brutal, both between and within starts.

      I don't see why anyone would think that teams would be lining up to offer their best prospects for a 2-month rental of such a player. It defies logic.

      Time will tell how this trade plays out. Maybe the Whities are right and they can teach Frankie some new tricks. Maybe he helps them and they even bring him back.

      But maybe the Whities see bad Frankie, miss the postseason and he walks at the end of the year while one of these guys ends up helping the Twins, and the fans on the Southside start demanding to know what the hell their management was thinking when they made this deal.

      We shall see.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      Truth is too, that we have about as good a chance re-signing him in the offseason as we would if we hadn't traded him. If he manages to stay in "Ace" mode the rest of the season, he is not gonna just resign with the Sox, he's gonna wanna test the waters, same as he would if he was here.

      We COULD make a run at him, and then the net result would be we only lose him for two months for two young guys. If he signs a big deal elsewhere, well, he probably would have gotten that deal leaving the Twins too, which means we would have lost him for nothing.

      We all know how much we love when our top guys leave in FA and we get jack squat in return
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      The find I find amazing is the short attention span of most fans, even knowledgeable fans. Last May, this is exactly what fans were clamoring for - a run of good starts so the Twins could get something, ANYTHING, for him before he imploded again. Nobody was talking about offering him an extension or calling him the best arm in the system (which he is on his good days). There were even some who said we should just DFA him and be done with it. I'm OK with this trade - I would have liked more, but it wasn't to be.

      I do think, given their contracts, that more needs to be expected for Span, Willingham or Morneau - they won't go for this level of return. If that's all that Ryan is offered for one of them, just say no and keep them.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      The question that nags at me isn't about what the Twins got from him in the trade -- it's about what the Twins got from him while he was with the team.

      Did they get the best from him? Are they getting the best from the other players they have?

      I guess we'll see what Frankie does with the Sox.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      So it proves that if you want to get good players in trades, you need to trade good players, and also not wait until they are only 3 month rentals. The question is, has Ryan come to the same conclusion?
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Unless you are a fan that thinks a couple more wins we'll be back in the race, there is little reason to be upset. If you are one of those fans you need help! We got something for him rather than see him leave after the season and get nothing. It is not in Ryan's dna to spend big money on free agents so thinking Liriano would sign a long term deal to stay is silly. Now could he come back when he finds no market for his good, bad and sometimes ugly pitching, sure but why would we want that. We have a bad team, it has been a bad team for over a year and thinking that a bad team has a lot of great players worth a small fortune doesn't make sense. Trade anything worth talent in return, every player on this team can be replaced and lets rebuild a team not for competeing in the central but a team worth watching come playoff time. Of course do it on the cheap!
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      So it proves that if you want to get good players in trades, you need to trade good players, and also not wait until they are only 3 month rentals. The question is, has Ryan come to the same conclusion?
      Another nice recap Nick.

      Mike has summed it up correctly. If you want good players you need to offer good players. This is what the market brought for Frankie.

      I'm sure we will all be watching Liriano for the rest of the season and somehow try and draw conclusions from his performances into evaluating this trade. If he does well, does that reflect badly on Rick Anderson and the Twins coaching staff and how they handled him? If he pitches poorly will that mean that TR played it well and at least got some thing for him? I have a feeling we will land somewhere in between. He will pitch great at times and implode during other outings, just like he did for us. That may be good enough for the Sox. It didn't work for us, we are at a point where we need consistent starts and at this point in his career, Liriano is anything but a consistent pitcher.


      Good Luck to Frankie, I hope he finds that groove and fulfills his potential down the road, I just hope it isn't as White Sox.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Of course he would have preferred to pry away younger prospects with higher ceilings
      Rywan said he wanted pitchers in the high minors who are "ready to go."
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      This trade will not be viewed favorably in the future. A team this desparate for starting pitching should not be so cavalier about dumping the best arm in it's system.
      Most "live" arm yes, best arm? Not so sure. Moving forward I'd say there is a at least a 50% chance that Hendriks, Diamond and Gibson all outpitch Liriano, and most importanly will cost millions of dollars cheaper.

      I wanted Liriano to stick around as well, and maybe if he preforms "meh" for the White Sox (4.00-4.50 ERA) down the stretch perhaps we can get him back on a cheap 1 year or 2 year deal. But the Twins decided enough was enough at this point with Liriano and they made the move, sometimes you just gotta move on, just like the Delmon trade last year.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Rywan said he wanted pitchers in the high minors who are "ready to go."
      HUH? Where did you hear that? I heard Ryan say he wanted high ceiling, no matter how far away they were to the majors.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by sbknudson View Post
      The find I find amazing is the short attention span of most fans, even knowledgeable fans. Last May, this is exactly what fans were clamoring for - a run of good starts so the Twins could get something, ANYTHING, for him before he imploded again. Nobody was talking about offering him an extension or calling him the best arm in the system (which he is on his good days). There were even some who said we should just DFA him and be done with it. I'm OK with this trade - I would have liked more, but it wasn't to be.

      I do think, given their contracts, that more needs to be expected for Span, Willingham or Morneau - they won't go for this level of return. If that's all that Ryan is offered for one of them, just say no and keep them.
      For the record, i object to the term "nobody."
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      For the record, i object to the term "nobody."
      +1. I was with you the whole way, if anything I thought they should have tried to lock him up in the off-season.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by DPJ View Post
      HUH? Where did you hear that? I heard Ryan say he wanted high ceiling, no matter how far away they were to the majors.
      http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/81...s-dodgers-more
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      What this deal indicates is that "nobody" in their right mind really can think Liriano is a "frontline" anything.

      I have minimal hope for this deal panning out and I'm not a fan of the value they got, but what they got is exactly what one should expect for what Frankie ACTUALLY is. Not what we all fondly remember him to be.

      It's funny to talk with Sox fans in my family, they almost all have the same answer to two questions: How do you feel about Frankie and how do you feel about what you gave up?

      Answer: Meh. Couldn't agree more.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      I'm a little curious about Pedro Hernandez. Is he rated as high as Samuel Deduno?
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      I'm a little curious about Pedro Hernandez. Is he rated as high as Samuel Deduno?
      Significantly higher. DeDuno didn't come close to cracking a top 40 list for the Twins this year I believe and he is 29 years old.
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