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On Tuesday, Twins top starter Francisco Liriano turned 27 years old. It’s almost hard to believe that he is just 27 years old as 2006 seasons like so long ago. The magical rookie campaign of the Dominican left-hander started with so much promise and ended with the uncertainty of Tommy John Surgery. He missed all of the 2007 season. 2008 and 2009 were filled with ups and downs. As Dan Wade pointed out on the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast last night, the uncertainty with Liriano in 2010 could be summed up by his 2010 contract which included two separate incentive structures, one if he was a starter, the other if he was pitching out of the bullpen. We also found it very unfortunate that many Twins fans are saying that Liriano is not an ace (and more silly, that he never could be) because of a bad 5th inning in October, rather than looking at what he did over 190+ innings from April through the end of September.
I’m not one to dig too deep into the stats, but after two straight seasons of being an extreme fly ball pitcher, Liriano was able to coax over 53% ground balls in 2010. His Batting Average on Balls in Play was .340, and much higher than other pitchers. He walked very few (2.72 per 9 innings) and struck out 9.44 per nine innings. He gave up just nine home runs over his 191.2 innings. He posted a tremendous .266 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) which takes out things that a pitcher can’t control such as his team’s defense. That was one of baseball’s best. In summary, Liriano was one of the top ten pitchers in the league in 2011. He appears to be close to what he was in 2006, which is saying a ton.
FanGraphs.com also posts a value that each player earned during the 2010 season. In its calculated estimate, Liriano earned $24 million in 2010. The Twins had signed him for $1.6 million in his first arbitration season. That brings me to the point of discussion for today’s blog. Should the Twins look to lock up Francisco Liriano to a long term contract this offseason in an attempt to lock him up through his final two seasons of arbitration and through a couple of his potential free agent years?
To help with the discussion, I am including one of piece of my Blueprint for the Twins offseason. In the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, each of us posted our Blueprint for the Twins offseason. Mine includes nine points which includes transactions involving over 40 names. If you want to see the other eight blueprint ideas, be sure to secure your copy of the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook.
Anyway, I do believe that the Twins would be wise to strongly attempt to sign Liriano to a four year contract extension. I think that the four year contracts signed the last two offseasons by Zack Greinke of the Royals and Josh Johnson of the Marlins should be good comparative deals in negotiations with the Twins talented left-hander. Is there risk? Of course. What is the value of cost certainty? How much do the Twins believe in the future of Liriano? These are questions they will have to consider. But for today, as we did in the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, I want to put you in the role of the Twins GM and would appreciate your thoughts on if the Twins should lock up Liriano or go year-to-year. Here is the 5th of my nine transactions in the Offseason GM Handbook for a little background.
5) Sign Francisco Liriano to four-year, $40 million extension.
Liriano is entering his second season of arbitration eligibility and our estimates have him getting $4.5M. Liriano has ace potential and it showed again during a strong 2010 season. Let me submit to you the following chart for your consideration:
|Zack Greinke||Josh Johnson||Francisco Liriano|
|ARB 1 (08)||1.4M||ARB 1 (09)||1.4M||ARB 1 (10)||1.6M|
Yes, there is risk with Liriano physically. But Josh Johnson also had Tommy John surgery, and Greinke’s battle with depression early in his career is certainly noteworthy in this discussion of risk. Liriano returned to his 2006 form in 2010, and he is primed for a breakout 2011 season. All three of these pitchers will be 27 years old throughout the season.
What do you do? Feel free to Discuss and Comment here. You can also e-mail me.
Fox Joins SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast
As mentioned above, Dan Wade joined the SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins podcast last night. We asked, How did the Twins win over 90 games in 2010 (considering several injuries and several disappointing seasons). We also started looking to the 2010 season and discussed ‘Aces.’ But we led off last night’s podcast being joined by Matt Fox. Fox got the spot start for the Twins on the Friday night before Labor Day against the Rangers. The Twins had been hurt by short starts and extra inning games and found themselves short a pitcher. Fox was the surprise call-up and came through by giving up two runs on four hits and a walk in 5.2 innings. Two days later the Twins Designated him for Assigment and a few days later, he was claimed by the Boston Red Sox and he spent the rest of the season with that team. Fox was on the show for about 20 minutes and recalled his debut, his time with the Twins and much much more. It was great to catch up with him again. Please tune in to the show for those two guests and plenty of Twins talk, and feel free to let me know what you think.
Ben Revere went 2-3 to raise his batting average to .413. He also stole his sixth and seventh bases.