Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.
I've written this before, but Francisco Liriano was so incredibly bad during much of his time with the Twins, that people had a tendency to treat a solid six-inning performance as great work. It was only "great" in a participation-medal sort of way. "Good job, Frankie. We know better things are ahead for you." (Even though "we" knew better.)
Things got so silly that some folks talked about whether Liriano's recent spate of acceptable work was due to the fact that he'd started chewing gum on the mound.
Many of the comments attached to the news story about the trade are lamenting that the Twins defied conventional wisdom and traded Liriano to a division rival.
Granted, you typically don't want to do that.
This isn't typical.
The Twins got what they could for him and, if Liriano stays with the White Sox after this season, the Twins could face him time after time in seasons to come.
The Twins should welcome those opportunities in the same way that Detroit (6.13 ERA), Cleveland (5.67 ERA) and the White Sox (5.77 ERA) have welcomed the chances to swing at his pitches.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the Twins were in a tougher place in terms of getting any significant return for Liriano. This deal makes it clear that, whatever kind words you may hear from the Twins on his departure, management gave up on Liriano and went into addition-by-subtraction mode.
Liriano could have continued an illusion of competence by pitching well in meaningless games in the final two months of the season, causing the fool-me-again crowd to wonder whether this was the time he would turn things around. I'm glad Terry Ryan declined to go there.
Make no mistake: There's heavy lifting to be done to return the Twins to relevance. If addition-by-subtraction is the only arithmetic that gets done between now and next season, Target Field will be an unhappy place.
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