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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Second Coming of Santana?

There's not a thing in the world that gets Twins fans more excited than the thought of Francisco Liriano developing into Johan Santana II. Liriano was acquired from the Giants along with Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser in exchange for AJ Pierzynski. At the time, Liriano was basically just a throw in to get the deal done. What is already a lopsided trade could prove to be one of the most one-sided deals in history if Liriano continues to progress.

The brass in the Twins organization has decided to start Liriano in the bullpen this year and they appear to be treating him much the same way they did Santana. I certainly understand the plan to bring the 22 year old Liriano along slowly. Although the Twins do have a history of being to conservative with their young players. (see Jason Bartlett and Mike Cuddyer)

I hope the organization doesn't wait too long before inserting Liriano into the rotation. If that doesn't happen by the All-Star break many Twins fans will begin to grow restless. Rob Neyer commented on this in his most recent chat.

"The Twins, sensibly I think, are letting him get his feet wet before throwing him to the Sheffields (how's that for a mixed metaphor!). But if he's not in the rotation before the All-Star break, I'm rescinding my World Series prediction."

With Santana, Radke, Silva, Baker,(who looked great against the Yankees today) and Liriano, the only thing Terry Ryan would need to be afraid of is having the best rotation in the majors - including Oakland. This also gives the Twins the added benefit of being able to trade Kyle Lohse midseason. If Bronson Arroyo can bring Wily Mo Pena, surely Lohse could fetch a decent bat to help the team down the stretch run. The key is making sure the Twins are in a position to make an honest run at the playoffs. With the AL being so tough, I fear that the longer the keep Liriano on a leash, the less likely it will be for them to stay in the hunt.

This situation is something I will be keeping a close eye on all year. Thus far Liriano has lived up to the expectations plus some.

IP- 6.2
R - 0
H - 5
BB- 0
SO- 12

I'm going to try to get a running Liriano watch on the sidebar so everybody can keep track of his progress. If that doesn't happen, I'll just have to post updates whenever necessary.

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