The Chicago White Sox trading for Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota Twins giving up on him makes perfect sense on both sides. The White Sox need pitching right now to help finish the season strong. The Twins are weary of Liriano’s potential not being fufilled because of too many injuries. Maybe they will get burned for giving up on him too early, but the evidence suggests it was time for him to change zip codes.
Liriano is 3-10 with an earned run average of 5.31 in 2012. He had made 22 appearances and started in 17 of them. However, the White Sox, who will be trying to fend off the surging Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division for the remainder of the year, picture him as being useful out of the bullpen for the moment. It was a gamble worth taking by general manager Kenny Williams.
Not so long ago Liriano was shaping up as one of the best young pitchers in the game. After a half-dozen-game cameo at age 21 in 2005, Liriano was one of the Twins’ biggest surprises and stars in 2006 when he went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA. He seemed destined for greatness. Unfortunately, he has ended up a regular on the disabled list instead of on the AL All-Star roster.
Bright spots have been limited for Liriano since his early breakthrough. He did go 14-10 as recently as 2010 and all hoped that meant he was rounding back into form. Alas, it meant nothing of the sort. So, seven years into his career, Liriano’s lifetime mark is 50-52. After this year’s dismal showing the Twins pulled the trigger and obtained two barely known players for him. It was really a statement (albeit one tinged with sadness) that the Twins were making. As in, “Francisco is someone else’s problem now.”
Often, teams in need are willing to accept others’ castoffs for what seem like good reasons at the time. From the White Sox standpoint, Liriano was acknowledged to be a very skilled pitcher at one time and of course they hope relocation to a new city will jump-start his latent ability. Also, Liriano is still only 28, so the possibility exists he could still have a fruitful career.
The White Sox don’t need Liriano as a starter right now. They are looking for assistance in the bullpen. They want to shore up what has been a problem of inconsistency all season long now that crunch time in the season approaches. Liriano could be a missing piece. It’s hard to put too much faith in him, but if the answer to the future of Francisco Liriano’s career is as a reliever, the White Sox may be the beneficiaries.