Friday, August 1, 2008

How Sweet It Is

Rumor has it that Livan Hernandez will be designated for assignment very soon, with Francisco Liriano taking his place in the starting rotation. I think most Twins fans, myself certainly included, are going to be very excited for his return (hopefully this time for good). Dumping dead weight for a lights-out pitcher can only be a good thing. Okay, I should probably calm down--Liriano is not going to be that good, I have to accept that. When I write about Liriano, though, you should keep in mind that I said at the beginning of the year "I've tempered my expectations for Liriano" and still concluded he would end the year with this stat line: 3.41 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 196 K/47 BB.

And Livan was not a complete waste. Yes, he was totally overpaid. Yes, there were certainly cheaper options who could have pitched better. And yes, at this point, he needs to go. But he pitched well in the beginning of the year, he did fill a rotation spot, as none of the Rochester starters really seemed ready (until now), and, who knows, maybe he did provide a "veteran influence", whatever that may be. When I say he needs to go, though, I don't necessarily mean off the team. Ideally, it would be Brian Bass who would be released right now. He hasn't pitched much better than Livan and has done it in a much less important role. In addition, as excited as I am for Liriano's return, what if something happens? Didn't some of us think he'd be back for good last time? As good as he's been at Rochester, who knows how he'll respond to the big leagues again? It'd be nice to have the insurance of Livan rather than Bass. And it's not just in case Liriano struggles; Hernandez, I think, is a better option as a spot starter than Bass.

But really I'm splitting hairs. It's really very incredibly superbly exciting that Liriano is coming back, this time after actually having shown a lot of improvement (and dominance) that indicates he may actually do well at the big league level. Mark the date, clear your plans, and glue yourself to your television (or computer in my case): Francisco Liriano is pitching for the Twins again!

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