Friday, July 18, 2008

Inside the Mind of Billy Smith

By Michael Haas

This whole Francisco Liriano debate is one of the biggest talkers among Twins fans, and it just got hotter. Liriano's agent, Greg Genske, requested an investigation by the players union into charges that the Twins are keeping the lefty in the minors for financial reasons. By limiting a players major league service time, their salary can be kept slightly lower. These allegations only fan the flames of the Big Question: When do we bring him up?

But to answer that question, we have to first answer Liriano's agents question: Why hasn't he been called up yet? Here's what I think Billy Smith and the Twins are thinking:

1. The F-bomb started the season with the big league club, and got shelled. TwinsGeek has mused that Genske helped put the pressure on the Twins to have him in the majors. In his three starts, Liriano pitched 10 innings and walked 13, and accumulated an era of 11.31. After that train wreck of an April, and especially after his year off due to surgery, the Twins have got to be absolutly positive that he gets all his work in, relearns his pitches, and gets a feel for the game. It might be counterproductive to put him the bullpen, where he would get sporadic work, and (hopefully) won't be his role on the Twins long-term.

2. But if we did put him in the bullpen, who would he replace? Guerrier, Crain, and Big Sweat aren't going anywhere.
Boof? Negatory, the Boof is out of options, so the Twins would probably lose him to another team if they tried to send him down. Now I know what you're sarcastically thinking: Oh no not Boof! But I don't think they're ready to give up on him just yet. Word is that they think he will be a much better pitcher once he drops another 20 pounds.

Breslow or Bass? They don't really count on these guys for much, but I don't see them getting booted. Both of them are out of options, so they're kind of stuck up here. Bass is the one most rumored to be out, but he's just a rookie and he's shown flashes. So how about the bullpen
There's Something About Livan

Obviously, the Twins love their veterans, even if they are historically terrible. Livan could set the record for most hits given up in a season, but he's still valuable. Hernandez was brought in as an innings-eater and veteran presence. The Twins view him as a necessary compliment to the young pitching staff. I mean, how many of those guys have thrown 200 innings? Baker, maybe once? Hell I don't know. And our bullpen could be considered 'over-worked' as well. So keeping Livan around makes sense in relation to the rest of the rotation. Does he make sense in relation to "winning games"? Some argue that he is a second half pitcher, a crafty vet who only get's better as the competition gets tough. We'll see.

Look, I love to criticize the Twins for their cheap ways and all, but I think this has more to do with circumstance than finance. So I really can't fault them for not bringing him up yet. But one thing is for sure: The Twins will be a better team when Liriano is wearing their uniform.


Daymonster said...

ESPN has a piece on this on the front page with a poll. 69% of the readers thought that the Cisco's arbitration has something to do with him not being brought up.

I think that is fucking crazy. C-R-A-Z-Y. If that was the case why did they bring him up when he wasn't ready in April. If he would have been mediocre and not horrible at that time they would have kept him up.

I feel like I am taking crazy pulls.

Daymonster said...

Also, it's funny that Genske is also Livan's agent. So the most likely person out of the rotation when Francisco comes in might be a bit pissed at his agent for forcing the issue.

soup said...

I am as critical as anyone about the Twins keeping players in the minors for financial reasons, but I seriously never even thought about that in this case until I saw the story.

There are some reasonable arguments to keeping Livan. But bringing up that Livan is "better" in the second half is an irrelevant argument.

The relevant question: is a healthy Liriano better than a veteran Livan in the second half? I say yes.

Jim H. said...

Bye Bye, Boof.