Why Liriano Must be Traded NOW!

There's still a lot of debate over whether or not the Minnesota Twins should trade Francisco Liriano. Sure he's the best pitcher on the staff of a team that's rather desperate for starting pitching, but he's also a free-agent-to-be with a demanding agent who will probably be looking for a sizable pay day (one that we likely can't afford).

Yet, there are plenty of people who would like Frankie Franchise to stick around now that he's figured out how to be consistently dangerous on the hill (Monday's Windy City debacle not withstanding). After all, with a little gum to chew, Liriano's been nigh to un-hittable. But that gum chewing is actually the biggest reason to trade the Cisco Kid.

You might well ask: why does chewing gum mean we have to trade him? The answer, like the answers to all of life's important questions is in a children's book. In this case Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl:

Please believe us when we say
That chewing gum will never pay;
This sticky habit's bound to send
The chewer to a sticky end.
Did any of you ever know
A pitcher called Liriano?...
He chewed while bathing in the tub,
He chewed while dancing at the club,
He chewed in church and on the bus;
It really was quite ludicrous!...
But then one day, he had to put the gum away
(Because the umps hated the delay)
And suddenly, Liriano just could not pitch,
He missed the zone by two feet and an inch
The fastball slowed down, the slider didn't move
As hard as he tried, he couldn't find a groove.
His fans, upset, began to boo
And Liriano just did not have a clue.
So he served up long bombs on his way to a loss
His golden arm turned to nothing but dross
He had to retire, run off and hide,
No teammates or fans would stand by his side
Yes, never was there a tale of more woe
Than this of Francisco Liriano.

It's repulsive, revolting and wrong; chewing and chewing all. day. long
The wa-ay that a co-ow does!
I was as surprised as anyone to find that a 20th century British author wrote an allusion to a 21st century Dominican pitcher, but such is the power of literary imagination. Just be glad we heard it now rather than after he finished his "tale of woe".


Let's Make a Deal Wrap-up!

Our trade market is less volatile
than this one
It's time to wrap up this blog's trade deadline speculation series/gameshow in the making: Let's Make a Deal. Where I offer you trade returns based on the historical equivalent of current Twins. First, let's check out how the fans did in making a deal for Francisco Liriano in what was nearly a unanimous verdict (until my friend Aly called in a last second vote for door #2).

No one, and I mean, NO ONE, wanted to keep Frankie or trade for door #3. (Since Door #3 contained three hitters and zero pitchers, it makes sense. And since those three hitters were actually career minor leaguers Dustin Brisson, Luis Alfonso Garcia and Rick Asadoorian, it seems like a pretty good pick.)

Now, since I know Aly reads this blog, I hate to tell her that she managed to pull a pretty foul Zonko behind door #2. Yes, in exchange for Frankie and three more starters Aly would have gotten John Christensen, Wes Gardner, LaSchelle Tarver and Calvin Schiraldi. (And hey, since Aly's a Red Sox fan, that Calvin Schiraldi burn stings even more)

But the vast majority of votes (5 in fact) went for door #1. And though the hitters (Corey Pointer and Ron White) are nothing to write home about, that up and down starter just happened to be Jason Schmidt. Not a hall of famer, but not chopped liver either. Nicely done Armchair GM's nicely done.

Sadly, as much fun as I've had creating these silly little mental exercises in the last few weeks, I'm actually out of reasonable research. I did look into the yield on Ryan Doumit and Carl Pavano...but neither one is getting a peep or a squeak of interest on the trading block (a two year extension and long DL stint probably have something to do with that). And I don't quite have the time to research potential Josh Willingham trade equivalents (not that Terry Ryan would trade him for anything less than immediate access fountain of youth/catcher knees).

Thanks to the magic of internet voting, the popular opinion of the Twins blogosphere has been heard, and when it comes four Twins trading chips, they've decided to:
  • Keep Denard Span (passing on three packages with minimal return)
  • Trade Matt Capps (for a package highlighted by an Edwin Jackson in the making)
  • Keep Justin Morneau (passing on a package that included young Steve Finley/Curt Schilling)
  • Trade Francisco Liriano (for a package highlighted by Jason Schmidt)
It seems that, for the fans, the best way to build the pitching staff is to subtract some pitching from the current roster, and keep the hitters. And to be honest, if you were a time traveller who told me that we could trade an irrelevant reliever and an inconsistent starter for two future all stars I would make that deal in a heart beat. But, unfortunately, Terry Ryan can't make trades with a way-back machine and has to deal with the present market (one filled with surprisingly suspicious buyers and a noticable lack of young Jason Schmidts).

To wrap up, I thought it would be instructive to see the general returns on the different types of Twins bargaining chips; the sort of average return to compare against any deals Terry Ryan makes in the next few weeks.

  • Players like Denard Span generally brought back two near major-league reader prospects: usually an outfielder and a pitcher (even mix between relievers and starters)
  • Players like Matt Capps generally brought back between two and three prospects (usually between A and AAA) including one player Baseball America put in it's preseason top 100.
  • Players like Justin Morneau generally brought back three prospects (usually between A and AA) including an infielder, an outfielder and a starting pitcher.
  • Players like Francisco Liriano generally brought back three to four prospects (usually between AA and AAA) including multiple position players and one pitching prospect.

And just so my work doesn't go for naught, here's what I saw for the other researched trades
  • Players like Carl Pavano generally brought back one to two prospects (between A and AAA) usually entirely made of pitching talent.
  • Players like Ryan Doumit generally brought back two to three prospects (between AA and AAA) including one starter and one reliever.

So if that's par for the course, it's time for Terry Ryan to tee it up and go for the green and other cliched golf metaphors as well.

Thanks for trying your hand at this purely speculative enterprise. I wondered how well Twins fans would do at making the deals themselves, and was generally impressed. If there's interest out there, I'll certainly try doing this all again next year (when we'll likely have a different bargain bin to offer up).

But I think whatever you think of this blog series we can all agree on the best part of it: RIDICULOUS TERRY RYAN PHOTOSHOPS!


Adopt a Prospect #5: The Twins most critical Weakness

Frequent readers of our Adopt a Prospect series know that we like our prospect, Luis Perdomo. They'll also know that we like his beard even more.

Perdomo's beard continues to inspire greatness wherever it goes (recently becoming the Rochester Red Wings go to guy whether they need 1 out or 9). But Perdomo is still off of our 40 man roster and unlikely to be called up anytime soon. Still, this beard merits recognition as one of the most outstanding chin warmers in our minor league system. Because, as all fans know strange things can create great ballplayers...I mean, if gum chewing can fix Francisco Liriano, it's pretty clear that magical facial hair is a real possibility. So adding Perdomo to our squad could immediately bolster the Twins most glaring weakness: quality facial hair.

That's a clown goatee, Bro.
Consider our current roster. In the major leagues we have nine players who occasionally sport some scruff on the field (excluding Joe Mauer's sideburns which are actually a byproduct of a Head and Shoulders promotion), but few of these offer any added value to the player. Justin Morneau's goatee comes and goes and offers little support when it does. Darrin Mastroianni either offers 5 o'clock shadow or this absurd beard that makes him look more like Narnia's Mr. Tumnus than a ball player. Seriously...we can't take you seriously when you look like this Darrin.

Speaking of 5 o'clock shadow, Mastroianni's not alone in his lacksadasical "I-don't-feel-like-shaving" scruff: Alex Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Trevor Plouffe, Drew Butera and Ryan Doumit all favor a look that resembles extras in a Gilette razor commercial than anybody who planned their appearance. Be advised: magical beards are not born of laziness gentlemen.

The only people (other than the aforementioned, chemically enhanced, Mr. Mauer and his sideburns) who plan their facial hair are Denard Span and Alexi Casilla.
Let's be honest about this, Denard's beard is simply a part of his style: inimitable, and undoubtedly classy. Sure, the fashionistas might complain about the fact that he lets the mustachio elements remain thin while the cheeks and chin get bushy. But you have to acknowledge that his particular flair is not the source of his power. Denard didn't always have the beard, and he could be just as well off without. Moreover, he may well be gone from the team in a few weeks, making the need for quality facial hair even more pressing.

Like sands through the hourglass
So are the hairs of Alexi's goatee

That leaves us with the Second Base Special. And we have to admit that Casilla's hourglass soul patch is a unique style to say the least. You rarely even catch Uptown hipsters sporting it (assuming you can see it behind their micro brew pint glasses). The Casilla goat has a special place in Twins lore, powering an otherwise erratic and feeble second baseman to an unusual number of walk off hits. The mighty scruff's role in powering the 8 hopper into right field to win game 163 winner over the Tigers remains the greatest example of bearded greatness in a Twins uniform since Kirby's stubble offered that extra boost in game 6. But now even that isn't enough to keep Casilla in the line-up on a regular basis.

So we need Luis Perdomo's beard, more now than ever before. Denard's classy style may be gone any day now, Casilla's scrap is no longer effective and Mauer's superpowered sideburns are tiring in lifting up the team. Perdomo's beard is powerful, Perdomo's beard is strong. We need Luis Perdomo's beard and the added velocity it inspires.


Let's Make a Deal Round 4

It's time for the All-Star Game (a favorite event for we Peanuts, because it is just as silly as we always are, and because we feel proud to join the teeming masses who mock Joe Buck every year!)

But before the big(ish) game, we should think about what we do with our own all-stars given that we may be trading a few of them before the month is out. Last week we gave you a choice of what to do with first baseman, three-time all-star and former MVP Justin Morneau. After five heated days of voting we ended up with 2 votes asking to keep Justin and one vote a piece for each of the trade options. Since majority rules, we'll say that our fans voted to KEEP JUSTIN. A fine choice, but was it the best choice? Let's look at what the fans passed up!
  • Behind Door #1, our first comprable Morneau trade would have gotten us a starter named Hunter Strickland (3 years after the trade in question he made it to AA...three weeks ago) and Short Stop Argenis Diaz, whose had one cup of coffee and is looking for another while playing for a different franchise. 1 vote
  • Behind Door #2 there was outfielder Charles Poe (who never went past AA), and starter Andrew Lorraine who had minor success as a long man and spot starter. 1 vote
  • But behind Door #3 that major league ready talent I talked about included the outfielder Steve Finley, starting pitcher (and one-time all star) Pete Harnisch...and Mr. Bloody Sock himself, Curt Schilling. 1 vote
I have to ask--if you're desperate for starting pitching, would Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling (plus Steve Finley) be enough to satisfy your hunger?

But rather than fixating on deals that were (or in this case weren't) done we can move on to the next trade to be. I had intended to continuing our firesale with erstwhile ace and permanent mustache inspiration: Carl Pavano; but all the TwinTweeters have been abuzz about the odds that Frankie Franchise is done in a Twins uniform. So, in an effort to capitalize off the popularity of this situation I hereby present: LET'S MAKE A DEAL FOR FRANCISCO LIRIANO

Every kids' favorite toy: Raggedy Ryan!
Alright, we all know the deal: Frankie's a talented if mercurial lefty, and while he might not be likely to resign with us next year (unless we offer to pay him in gum) he is probably our best pitcher right now. So, remembering that you can always keep him, let's sneak a peak at what is available behind Door #1, Door #2 and Door #3.*

Selecting Door #1 will offer you three talented prospects. First there's an outfielder (20) in Low A Ball who boasts a very promising slash line of: .245/.349/.502. Then there's a first baseman (20) in AA coming off a year in A ball where his OPS was a mighty .967 (.877 so far this year). And finally, because we know how much the Twins covet starting pitching there's a starting pitcher (23) who has been shuttling between AAA and the Majors and came into the year as one of the Top 15 prospects in all of baseball.

Meanwhile, in order to pry open Door #2 you'll have to be willing to give up a bit more than just Liriano (call it insurance against another Frankie being Frankie episode), if you're willing to give up Liriano and three more pitchers (let's say starters from A (21) and AA (19) plus a long-reliever (25) in AAA). But, if you give up that bounty you'll get back a bevy of talented AAA players including one outfielder (24) shuttling between AAA and the majors just waiting for a break through, and another whose slugging leaves a little to be desired but does get on base at a .386 clip. Since the Twins want so much pitching we'll also provide a AAA reliever (24) who has a 1.19 WHIP this year and a starter on the same AAA team who keeps the ball down (HR/9 under .5 for the last four years).

Finally, one organization, with little pitching to offer hopes to make up for it with plenty of offensive talent, starting with a first baseman (23) whose OPS in A ball this year is .812. another first baseman (23) in AA whose OPS is .973, and an outfielder (20) who has 35 stolen bases in his last two seasons of A ball.

*Note: I realize that these are underwhelming offers, but they're based on returns for pitchers like Liriano, not necessarily for pitchers available in a thin starter's market at a deadline with multiple buyers. All things being equal pitchers of Frankie's calibre tend to yield 2-3 prospects from a variety of positions.

So, while that might seem like a fuzzy pack of lollipops to choose from, there is one all-star in the making out there for you. Now, what will you do with Francisco Liriano: Keep him or trade him away for Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3?!?


Let's Make a Deal Round 3

Another week closer to the trade deadline, another week worth of rampant speculation and wild hopes for Twins fans; after several days of heated voting the fans chose to trade Matt Capps rather than keep him, stunning the blog-o-sphere...oh wait! Let's see what the fans picked and what they passed up.

Door #2 netted two votes and provides my personal favorite proof of idiotic trades made for "closers" Capps compares well with Ugueth [namesake of my first child boy OR girl] Urbina and at roughly the same age in a mid-season trade Urbina netted the Texas Rangers less impressive talents like Will Smith [not the rapper] and Ryan Snare [not that guy who sat behind you in 11th Grade history], but did yield a first baseman you might have heard of: Adrian Gonzalez. Sure the Rangers sent him off to San Diego (and thence to Boston) but still, might be nice to have a bat like that to cover up Mauer/Morneau in years to come. 2 votes...not happening for the Twin Cities

Door #3 got the same number of votes as door #2 and proves that quantity is not necessarily quality, as these candidates turn into Mick Pageler, Mike Villano, and YES IT's true! Joe Fontenot...making this the obvious ZONK! 2 votes....OOOPS!

Door #1 was the choice of our voters, despite that fact that it required another pitcher [Jeff the Vulture Gray], still this deal would lead to the Twins acquiring players like Chuck Tiffany [pause to let everyone say "who?"] but would also net starting pitcher/All-Star/World Champion Starter Edwin Jackson...of course he's a Scott Boras client so the likelihood of keeping him once Free Agency hit is anybodies guess. 3 votes gets us a #2 starting pitcher...NICE JOB FANS!!

For our next "Let's Make a Deal" we'll look at what you could get for one of the most hotly debated trading chips the Twins have: local favorite and former MVP Justin Morneau. I offer the options, you vote in the poll on our blog, or in the comments below, next week I reveal what you came away with.

Hip-Hop Dutchman?
Alright, we all know what Justin can do when healthy, the only question is whether or not he's really healthy. The good news is that, behind one of these doors of similar players traded there's a border-line Hall of Famer, but where? Let's sneak a peak behind the curtain as we try to make a deal (remember, you can always vote to keep Justin if you prefer).

Behind Door #1 there's a right handed starting pitcher (20) in A ball whose cut his WHIP down to 1.17 and has a K/BB ratio that's been consistently over 3.5 in his three years of pro ball, as well as a slim short stop (22) in AA who has posted an OBP over .300 at every stop of the minors, his defense is not always consistent, but shows improvement, and both can be yours if you MAKE A DEAL!

Behind Door #2 there's an AA Outfielder (23) who posted near highs in Doubles, OBP, and Slugging in his first full season at the higher level, and a Lefty Starter (22) ranked a top 75 prospect by Baseball America who jumped from Low A directly to AAA and boasts a K/9 rate of 6. All this for just one little Canadian First baseman if you MAKE A DEAL!

And finally behind Door #3 we have major league ready talent. Start with a versatile outfielder (26) who spent almost all of last year with the major league club succeeding on 70% of his stolen base attempts and getting on base at a percentage over .300. We've also got a former first round pick, a right handed pitcher (23) whose minor league numbers include an ERA perpetually under 3, a WHIP consistently under 1.5, and profiles to move beyond his 11-11 record last year. And there's another Righty Starter in AAA (23) who just posted a career best 3.3 K/BB Ratio, and made a few appearances out of the big-league bullpen. Yes, this cornocopia of prospects can be yours when you MAKE A DEAL!

So what will it be would-be-GMs out there? Keep Justin Morneau, or trade him for Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3!?!?



Adopt a Prospect #4: Movin' On Up

Wonder of Wonder, Miracle of Miracles! Luis Perdomo's beard (and Luis Perdomo) got promoted to Rochester this week! (Ed. Note: Sorry for the unintentional mash-up of the Jefferson's theme and a Fiddler on the Roof ditty...hmm, I wonder if I could sell that to Glee?)

This is the first time Perdomo's beard has played this high up on the East Coast since he made his major league debut against the New York Mets! (4/15/09). And thought he temptation to celebrate is great, clearly Perdomo's beard won't rest until it attains that lofty perch of being the most feared set of facial follicles in the major leagues.

So he will toil along side other players with former big league experience. No longer will he be the sage old timer in the bullpen, impressing the young whelps with stories of his time in the show (where you hit white balls for batting practice and the women all have long legs and brains) now he'll be part of a staff where the vast majority have played in the bigs (many, recently).

Courtesy Lewis Carroll
and courierpress.com
To be sure, there's still a challenge here, though Luis Perdomo's beard is far more glorious than say...Darrin Mastroianni's Mr. Tumnus style goatee and worthy of the big time, the beard is stubbornly attached to a reliever in an organization that stockpiles them like separatist militias stockpile ammo/canned goods. The man who owns Luis Perdomo's beard (one...Luis Perdomo) is not on the 40 man roster, something that is unlikely to change until a mess of trades, releases and/or bubonic plague deaths make it possible. And, most challenging of all...Luis Perdomo was called up to AAA only after 7 Rochester pitchers hit the disabled list. If any one of those pitchers comes back, it might be a very short stay indeed for Perdomo and his beard.

But let's not spoil this with cynicism or "facts", the truth is that Luis Perdomo's beard is one step closer to making it back to the major leagues. After battling, fighting and holding fast to that fervent dream of a return to glory, he's moved closer this week. And no matter how long the odds or how questionable the circumstances are, it's great to see a great bit of facial hair (and a dedicated player) keep living their dream.