Monday Morning Cram Session, 7/30

Last Thursday, The Common Man expressed his trepidation that the Twins were positioned to truly make this a disastrous trade deadline.  With the trade of Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, that’s well underway.

Admittedly, Liriano is a uniquely frustrating pitcher.  When he’s on, Liriano has three plus-plus pitches in his fastball, changeup, and slider, and is capable of dominating the league for long stretches, as he did in 2006, 2010, and for much of the last two months.  When he’s not, however, Liriano is wild and unfocused.  There is a danger, as Jesse Lund of Twinkie Town and Nick Nelson of Twins Daily, pointed out, of overvaluing your own players, as a function of growing attached to them over the course of several seasons, and watching them day in and day out.  So let’s not pretend that Francisco Liriano was worthy of a major haul along the lines of what the Marlins got for Anibel Sanchez, or the Brewers got for Zack Greinke.  Liriano offers far more risk than either of those pitchers.

And indeed, the Twins didn’t get anything close to a decent return for their lefty, netting just 23 year old infielder Eduardo Escobar and 23 year old lefty Pedro Hernandez from the White Sox.  To call either of them prospects is to stretch the definition of “prospect” to its breaking point.  Escobar is an extreme defensive specialist who hasn’t had an OBP above .316 in a minor league season since Rookie League.  He has absolutely no power, no hit tool, and no patience.  He is so bad offensively, he’s probably a downgrade from Alexi Casilla.  His upside, the very best he could possibly be, is as a starter on a terrible team that just needs to put somebody, anybody at shortstop.  Hernandez is Brian Duensing’s Venezuelan, non-union equivalent, a command-and-control guy who doesn’t really crack 90 MPH with any consistency.  He has, admittedly, had good minor league success through AA, but prospect mavens suggest that his upside is around a bad #4 or a decent #5 starter.  And the Twins already have approximately 712 of those.  Neither one of them is likely to ever be worth more than a win above replacement in a season.

Now, The Common Man believes Terry Ryan when he says that this represents the best offer he got (or, at least, TCM believes that Terry Ryan believes that).  That’s simply common sense.  But what’s disturbing is that Ryan believed that the handful of junk the Twins got back was worth dealing Liriano.  The problem is not that the offer was insufficient compared to other offers (which we don’t know), it’s that it’s insufficient to simply keeping Francisco Liriano, an impending free agent who potentially could bring back a draft pick.

Under the new CBA, the Twins would have to submit a 1 year qualifying offer, estimated between $12-13 million.  If Liriano accepted, the Twins would be on the hook for that money.  But if he did not, the Twins would receive a compensatory pick in the sandwich round of the amateur draft.  Given the depleted state of the pitching market this offseason, there’s no reason to think that Liriano would be tempted by the Twins’ tender, so there would have been relatively little risk.  But if he had, $12 million for a single season of Liriano is not terribly unreasonable, nor would it cripple the Twins long-term, or prevent them from moving Liriano at the deadline next year (when he may have more value).  And while there’s no guarantee that the Twins will get value out of any compensatory pick, there’s at least a chance to pick a player with significant upside.  Unlike either of the players they got from Chicago.

Now, let’s all sit around and wait for the Twins to muck up one more deal at the deadline, before we all come to the collective realization that the Twins are done, and that all they’ll have to show for this opportunity to upgrade is a new (terrible) utility infielder and Brian Duensing’s doppelganger.

Pitcher of the Night: Clayton Kershaw, 9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 R
After allowing the second most runs of his career in any start last time out, Kershaw follows up with his second shutout of the season and the 5th of his career.  He should come with a warning label.

Hitter of the Night: Jhonny Peralta, 2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Peralta has not had a good 2012, hitting just .260/.330/.395, and to have his lowest homer total since 2004, when he played just 8 games.

Play of the Night: Two plays that make couldn’t be more different.  Amarista is all effort in laying full out for the sharp grounder.  Cain, on the other hand is terrifically non-chalant.

Alexi Amarista

Lorenzo Cain

Big Hit of the Night: Anthony Rizzo, 3-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB

Rizzo with the big two run blast in the 10th to win it for the Cubs.  he’s hitting .333/.369/.571 and is looking every bit the stud Thoe and Jed hoped to acquire.  Andrew Cashner, on the other hand, has pitched 36.2 slightly above-average innings.

Injury of Note: Mike Trout, left knee contusion
Without Trout, we are lost.  Our beacon, our light signifying safe harbor, is snuffed.  Come back to us Trout. Light our way in the darkness.

Trade Bait of the Night: Josh Johnson, 5 IP, 2 H, 6 BB, 4 K, 2 R
Only two runs, but anybody wanting to trade for Josh Johnson has to be concerned by his wildness yesterday.  His six walks tied a career high (from June of 2006), and he hasn’t walked even five since 2009.

Ephemera

Tigers: Doug Fister, 8 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 9 K, 1 R
In his last four starts, Fister has thrown 30 innings and given up just 6 runs, while striking out 31.  The Tigers are now just 1.5 back of the White Sox.

Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 1 R
Chen sets the record for most Ks by a Taiwanese pitcher, which apparently is a thing.

Orioles: Lew Ford, 0-3, BB
Ford last appeared in the Majors in 2007.  Since then, he hit his way into getting released from Japan, tore the cover off the ball in the Mexican League and Atlantic League, and then hit .331/.390/.550 in half a season at Norfolk for the O’s.  Welcome back, Lew.  You may not have hit much, but at least you made the highlight reel.

Braves: Chipper Jones, 2-4, HR, 2 R, 1 RBI
Chipper’s now hitting .317/.389/.513 and has more than 2.5 Wins Above Replacement on the year.  It’s not going to be the best 40 year old every (that will be Willie Mays probably for the rest of our lifetimes), but it is bound to be one of the top 10 or so, provided Chipper stays healthy.  It’s also, almost certainly, going to be the best season by a 40 year old 3B, however, as his only competition is Luke Appling (3.3 WAR) and Graig Nettles (3.0 WAR).  Indeed, the most interesting thing about Jones’ performance is not how well he’s doing, but that he’s been able to stay at his position through it.  Jones will be just the sixth third baseman to get more than 400 plate appearances after 40, joining Appling, Nettles, Lave Cross, Cal Ripken, and Wade Boggs.

Astros: Marwin Gonzalez, 3-5, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI
Gonzalez is not good at baseball, but for one night, he really was.  Someday we’re going to look back on him like we do Angel Salazar and wonder how he ever conned anyone into giving him this many at bats.

Twins: Justin Morneau, 3-4, HR, 2 RBI
It’s looking more and more like Morneau will remain a Twin.  And that’s a good thing, considering how underwhelming the return was for Francisco Liriano.  There’s almost no chance the Twins could get an acceptable return for Morneau if he’s healthy.

Twins: Brian Duensing, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 R
When the Twins dealt Liriano, Duensing got the word last night that he’d be subbing in today.  It’s the first start where he’s gotten out of the 5th inning, and dropped his ERA as a starter down from 10.13 to 7.45.  As a reliever, he’s been much better (3.12), but nowhere near the conversion success that TCM was hoping (a la Glen Perkins).

Brewers: Francisco Rodriguez, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 R
Brewers: John Axford, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 K
God, it just keeps getting worse and worse for the Brewers, and at this point it doesn’t matter who’s on the back end.  They’re going to suck.  Brewers relievers have a 4.63 ERA on the year, and the only bullpen guys below 4.00 are Kameron Loe and Jim Henderson (who has thrown 2.1 innings).

Nationals: Michael Morse, 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI, HBP
Morse was a big damn hero, hitting a two run homer in the top of the 9th that tied the Nats with the Brewers, and a two run double in the top of the 11th to give the Nats the lead.  He’s hitting .303/.330/.466 since coming off the DL.

Reds: Mat Latos, 8 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 2 R
After his rough start, Latos has been pretty on point for the last month or so.  In his last 7 starts, he’s 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 47 Ks in 47.2 innings.

Angels: Zack Greinke, 7 IP, 7 H, BB, 8 K, 2 R
Greinke’s first start in Anaheim was about as good as you could ask for, but the Angels couldn’t do anything against…

Rays: Jeremy Hellickson, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 R
Hellickson has again outperformed his peripheral stats this year, posting a 5.24 FIP and being below replacement level according to FanGraphs.  But after two years of this, maybe it’s time to wonder whether Hellickson simply has abilities that FIP can’t measure.

Mets: R.A. Dickey, 7 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 R
Dickey has struggled throughout July, posting a 6.49 ERA through his last 4 starts, but looked incredibly strong in the desert last night.

Mariners: Kyle Seager, 3-4, 2 R, 2 RBI
Seager has been one of very few bright spots on this Mariners team, providing above average offense (.245/.311/.407) and strong defense according to UZR and Total Zone.

Rangers: Scott Feldman, 8 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 R
Feldman is making a pretty strong case that the Rangers don’t need to add another starter.  He’s given up a single run in his last two starts (15 innings).

Red Sox: Pedro Ciriaco, 1-4, RBI
Ciriaco drives in the go-ahead run in the 10th and is now hitting .356/.367/.475.  According to the Middlebrooks rule, the Red Sox now have to deal Mike Aviles, which, given how badly he’s hitting, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

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