Liriano is Back

10 08 2008

The Giants made a big mistake letting Liriano go.

The Giants made a big mistake letting Liriano go.

By Kevin Collins

The San Francisco Giants made a huge mistake.  Brian Sabean is a better general manager than that.  On November 14th 2003, Sabean acquired catcher A.J. Pierzynski from Minnesota.  What did the Giants give up?  The future.  Minnesota received Boof Bonser, eventual two time All-Star closer Joe Nathan, and if that was not enough for the Twins, they also received nineteen year old, left handed pitcher Francisco Liriano. 

It took Liriano only two years in the Twins system to get a cup of coffee with the big club, making his Major League debut in September 2005.  In 2006, his full rookie season, Liriano appeared in 28 games, 16 of which were starts.  Liriano finished the season 12-3 with a miniscule ERA of 2.16, making the AL All-Star team in the process and finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Unfortunately for Liriano, he had to cut his break-out year short with a sore arm, eventually leading to Tommy John Surgery, causing him to miss the entire 2007 campaign.  The Twins missed his arm in the rotation behind Johan Santana, finishing the season two games under .500.  Equally as regrettable  for Twins fans everywhere is the fact that Santana and Liriano only had that one season as the best one-two punch in the game.  The Johan Santana trade really showed how much confidence and faith the Twins organization has in Liriano.  They truly believed when they traded Santana that Liriano could fill the shoes of the best pitcher of the decade. 

Liriano did have some big shoes to fill, and the 2008 campaign did not get off to the best of starts for the lefty.  He was sent back down to AAA Rochester in April.  While Francisco was retooling in the minors,
his Twins were able to hold their own in AL Central, battling the White Sox for first place.  On August 1st, after failing to acquire anything before the trade deadline, the Twins promoted Liriano back to the
majors – which was, in essence, just like acquiring an ace.  While in AAA, Francisco made 19 starts, going 10-2. With that kind of showing, it was more than time for Liriano to reclaim his spot at the top of the Twins rotation.  In his first start back for the Twins, the lefty struck out five Indians in six scoreless innings. 

Liriano will, without a doubt, be a huge player in the Central race.  The Twins have been able to stick around in the division all year, despite losing Johan Santana and Tori Hunter before the season, while at the same time sorely missing the production of a hurt and slumping Michael Cuddyer.  Now, with Liriano back, the Twins have at least one more piece of the puzzle – and that’s a number one pitcher.  If Francisco was healthy all season, the AL Central could very well look very different.  Francisco Liriano is back -and back for good.  He will anchor the Minnesota staff for the rest of the season and may very well be the reason the Twins edge out the Chi-Sox for the American League Central crown.  And who knows, maybe if Brian Sabean had hung on to Liriano, Barry Zito would still be winning Cy Youngs across the bay.

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2 responses

10 08 2008
Nick

Potentially the most outstanding writing I have ever seen.

25 08 2008
yo sup

big big mistake by the giants- way to go brian sabean

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