Friday, February 11, 2011

Twins Would Be Foolish to Trade Francisco Liriano

Frankly, reports of the Twins being interested in trading Francisco Liriano seem half-baked. Why would they weaken their rotation because they have six possible starters? For one thing, three of those six didn't pitch very well last season. For another, why would you be interested in trading a pitcher that gave you $24 million in pitching value last year with a $1.6 million salary? Liriano is going to make $4.3 million in 2011. He could have a mediocre year and earn that much for the Twins. It would be silly to trade him.

Again, this Fan doesn't believe the hype. Sure, Liriano has always vexed the Twins. He doesn't fit their mold of a strike throwing machine, though he did post his best walks per nine ratio since 2006. But still, he walked 2.7 batters per nine when the team averaged 2.4 as a whole. This is a team, after all, that released Craig Breslow because he walked too many batters. They should have thought that one through a little harder. Plus, Liriano did have two really lost seasons in 2008 and 2009. For sure, that has left a bit of the nerves in the Twins going forward.

But seriously, Liriano, if he is as close to being as good as he was in 2010, is a stud pitcher that would make most managers drunk-happy. He only gave up nine homers in 191+ innings. His 3.62 ERA is totally misleading. That stats show that Liriano was unlucky. He posted a batting average against of .331 on balls in play. That should really be around .300. He was particularly unlucky on the road, where is BABIP skyrocketed to .362.

To gauge a true look at how well Liriano pitched in 2010, you have to look at his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and his xFIP. His FIP was 2.66 and his xFIP was 3.06 according to Fangraphs. Liriano induces way more ground balls than fly balls and as such, he induced fifteen ground ball double plays. Again, this is a very good pitcher.

The only thing the Twins could be thinking IF they are thinking about trading him (again, the Fan doesn't believe it), is the post season. The Twins have made the playoffs several times and can't get past the first round. Liriano has not produced in the post season. But again, if you look closely at that game he pitched against the Yankees in the 2010 Division Series, he was a bit unlucky again. He struck out seven in his six innings, gave up no homers and just seven base runners. But he still gave up four runs.

No, it's not a good idea to trade Francisco Liriano. He is under the Twins control for the next couple of years and he will be relatively cheap. For the value he can add to that pitching staff, they would have to get a whole bunch of value in return to make the deal worthwhile. But unless that is the case, trading Liriano would be stupid.

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