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Francisco Liriano Rumors
After missing two years due to elbow injuries, righty Ben Sheets made a triumphant comeback start today as a member of the Braves, tossing six scoreless innings against the Mets for the win. Should Sheets manage a dozen decent starts for the Braves, the minor league signing will stand as a shrewd under-the-radar move by GM Frank Wren. Today's shrewd, under-the-radar links:
- "I feel like myself. That's one thing I can say I never felt like in Oakland," Sheets told reporters today including Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sheets signed a one-year, $10MM contract with the A's prior to the 2010 season despite missing all of '09.
- "It's just as necessary for the Yankees to have young players with a few years of control as it is for the Twins or the A's," GM Billy Beane explained to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times yesterday. The A's GM has been trading away players further from free agency lately, but this year Beane's club is surprisingly in the mix for a wild card spot.
- Scouts from the Yankees, Blue Jays, Braves, Mets, Reds, Padres and Nationals have attended recent Francisco Liriano starts, report Phil Mackey and Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com, though some of those clubs may have had other interests. Slugger Josh Willingham would require a lopsided offer and seems likely to stay put, as we've heard before. Willingham is signed through 2014 and is interested in staying with the Twins beyond his current contract.
- Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer had Mike Trout second on his board for the 2009 draft, after only Stephen Strasburg, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News. The Angels had two consecutive picks at 24 and 25, with the Yankees at 29, and Oppenheimer thought he might get Trout once the Halos took another high school outfielder in Randal Grichuk at 24. Of course, Angels scouting director Eddie Bane took Trout at 25. Trout told Harper he's motivated by all the teams that passed on him.
- The Diamondbacks signed Dominican shortstop Sergio Alcantara, according to Baseball America's Ben Badler. BA says Alcantara draws praise for his defense, and the D'Backs had been favored to sign him. BA ranked Alcantara 18th overall in the July 2nd class.
Looking to bolster their pitching staff for the stretch drive, the Angels have interest in both Matt Capps and Francisco Liriano according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Twins have made both players available, though Morosi says there is an outside chance a deal for either happens.
The Halos have continued to look for bullpen help even after acquiring Ernesto Frieri from the Padres, and their rotation took a hit when Dan Haren was placed on the DL with a back issue. The trio of Ervin Santana (5.75 ERA), Jerome Williams (4.67 ERA), and Garrett Richards (4.21 ERA) has been shaky behind Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Los Angeles is also said to have interest in Zack Greinke.
Capps, 28, has pitched to a 3.42 ERA with 14 saves while battling shoulder inflammation this season. He is owed approximately $2.3MM for the rest of the year and has a $6MM club option ($250K buyout) in his contract. The 28-year-old Liriano owns a 4.93 ERA in 15 starts and five relief appearances. He struck out 15 last night and has pitched to a 2.83 ERA in nine starts since returning to the rotation. Liriano will become a free agent after the season and is owed roughly $2.75MM the rest of the way.
The Diamondbacks are willing to trade Justin Upton even if they’re in contention, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Arizona GM Kevin Towers won’t make a deal unless he’s “dazzled”, Rosenthal reports. Here are Rosenthal’s latest rumors, starting with Upton:
- The Diamondbacks could pursue Major Leaguers instead of prospects for Upton if they remain in contention for a postseason berth. Upton raises some questions with his effort level and body language, according to Rosenthal, but the outfielder appears to have drawn “huge” interest from teams such as the Pirates nonetheless.
- The Rangers prefer Cole Hamels to Zack Greinke, though they continue scouting Greinke.
- Francisco Liriano has a 2.74 ERA in eight starts since returning to the Twins’ rotation, but clubs are “wary” of trading for the left-hander, Rosenthal reports. It’s doubtful that teams would part with significant prospects for Liriano, who’s thought of as a bullpen option by some teams. Matt Capps will also be available once he returns from the disabled list, according to Rosenthal.
- The Tigers are prioritizing offense over starting pitching, according to an executive that has spoken to the team. The Tigers need second base help and could also explore trades for corner outfielders, starting pitchers and relievers.
With nearly 81 games in the books, the Braves signed Ben Sheets to a minor league deal earlier today as the team hopes he can help bolster its rotation in the second half of the season. Here's the latest from Turner Field…
- Look for Atlanta to join the pursuit of Zack Greinke's services if the team can secure him long term for closer to $15MM per season than $20MM, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Greinke, 28, is enjoying a strong season in his second year with the Brewers after being acquired from the Royals in December 2010. The right-hander has posted a 2.82 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 through 16 starts.
- The Braves were among a series of teams scouting Francisco Liriano today during his start against the Royals, reports Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com (via Twitter). While Liriano failed to turn in a quality start on Sunday, the former All-Star has improved his performance each month of the season thus far. The 28-year-old signed a one-year, $5.5MM deal with the Twins in January and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season.
- Count Bryce Harper among Chipper Jones' supporters for his bid to be added to the National League All-Star roster through the Final Vote competition, writes Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com. The 19-year-old rookie, who is competing with Jones for a spot on the team, said that a future Hall of Famer should be able to go to the All-Star Game during his last season. "If I was going to make a vote, I'd go vote for Chip."
On this date in 1999, the Royals tore off a 10-run eighth inning en route to an 11-7 win over the Indians, according to Baseball-Reference. Kansas City's only homer in the barrage was a two-out solo shot by Johnny Damon, now of the Indians. On with the Central Links:
- The Twins will see "robust interest" in left-hander Francisco Liriano as the trade deadline nears, a club official tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (Twitter link). Liriano has pitched better of late after a terrible start to the season, though his ERA sits at 5.30 and his SIERA at 4.10.
- The Cardinals' pursuits leading up to the trade deadline will largely be shaped by Chris Carpenter's attempt to return from a shoulder injury, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. GM John Mozeliak is targeting July 1 as a yardstick for Carpenter's progress, although the right-hander recently suffered a setback. The Redbirds plan to seek a starting pitcher.
- Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, likely won't have to serve an eight-week suspension similar to the one being served by the Marlins' Juan Carlos Oviedo for playing under a false identity, GM Chris Antonetti told reporters, including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Hernandez will probably be excused from the suspension because he restructured his contract this offseason.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com lists 45 potential trade candidates in anticipation of this summer’s deals. Here are some highlights, starting with a team that could be a buyer, rather than a seller:
- One GM questions Zack Greinke’s ability to thrive in major markets. Keep in mind that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has a buyer’s mindset as the deadline approaches. Greinke and others on Milwaukee’s roster may not be available.
- Fellow Brewers starter Shaun Marcum is no better than a fourth starter in the American League, according to a GM. It's worth noting that Marcum posted a 3.85 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in five seasons in the American League East when he pitched for the Blue Jays.
- An American League executive said Padres starter Edinson Volquez “has good value,” Heyman reports.
- One person said Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano is worth a short-term look.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore may like Jeff Francoeur more than any other team does.
- Jeremy Guthrie will have to string together some quality outings to restore his trade value, one executive said.
- Heyman hears from a Cubs official who says the team hasn't mentioned Starlin Castro's name in trade talks (Twitter link). The Cubs appear to be willing to listen on most of their players, including Castro.
As if the Phillies didn't already have enough stars on the disabled list, Hunter Pence missed Monday's game due to a shoulder injury suffered diving for a ball Sunday against the Padres. The extent of the injury is yet unknown and Pence is considered day-to-day for the time being.
Some news from Monday in the Major Leagues…
- Dontrelle Willis talks to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko about the situation that resulted in Willis being placed on the Orioles' restricted list. Willis is "almost dumbfounded" by how things unfolded, as he thought he and the O's had agreed to part ways since he was injured and not adjusting well to relief pitching. "I don't understand what's really going on. I don't know if there's been a miscommunication there," Willis said. "Not with me. I talked to my agent and we talked about it, I talked to the proper representation, I talked to Dan [Duquette] personally….It was face-to-face. I don't know what's going on. And now if I want to sign with another team, I can't."
- Kubatko hears that Willis has drawn interest from a team in South Korea and a team in Japan, but Matt Sosnick, Willis' agent, denies that his client has received any offers.
- The Marlins' signing of Ivan Rodriguez in 2003 was "money well spent," team president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest tells Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Beinfest doesn't regret any of the moves the club made that season (even trading then-prospect Adrian Gonzalez for Ugueth Urbina) because it led to a championship. "You always hate to trade away a talent like Adrian Gonzalez. But you make it every day if you're going to win the World Series," Beinfest said.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum hopes Rodrigo Lopez will clear waivers and remain with the organization, reports ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla. The right-hander was designated for assignment earlier today as the Cubs added Michael Bowden to the roster.
- Pedro Alvarez's struggles inspired a discussion of the greatest draft busts in history in this mailbag piece from Baseball America's Jim Callis. Alvarez, taken by the Pirates with the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, could be "the biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history" unless he turns himself around, Callis writes.
- Twins President Dave St. Peter told Jim Memolo and Jeff Nelson on MLB Network Radio that his team needs to pitch better to recover from its 5-11 start. St. Peter suggested the Twins could move Francisco Liriano to the bullpen temporarily. “He’s an asset for this franchise and we need to get him back into a situation where he can go deep into ballgames,” St Peter said. The 28-year-old lefty faces a make or break year and it was announced today that Liriano would skip his next start and not pitch until May 1.
In 2006, Baseball America's sixth-ranked prospect took the American League by storm after the Twins moved him from the bullpen into the rotation. Francisco Liriano was every bit as dominant as fellow ace Johan Santana, and Minnesota looked to have a pair of dynamic left-handers that would be as formidable as any one-two punch in baseball.
Tommy John surgery that summer derailed that tandem, and set Liriano on the shelf for the entirety of the 2007 season. After 118 innings of work at Triple-A in 2008, Liriano rejoined the Twins' rotation to mixed success, and his dreadful 2009 was forgettable, to put it lightly (5.80 ERA in 136 2/3 innings).
Liriano exploded in 2010 to show that he wasn't done yet, though, winning the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award with 191 2/3 innings of 3.62 ERA ball. As is often the case, the ERA didn't tell the whole tale. Fangraphs pegged Liriano's worth at a whopping six wins above replacement. He struck out 9.4 hitters per nine innings pitched, while walking just 2.7 per nine. His SIERA was 3.02, while FIP liked him for a full run lower than his ERA — 2.66.
Those days seem like a distant memory however, following yet another disappointing season in 2011. Liriano avoided arbitration this winter by settling on a one-year deal worth $5.5MM. After a fantastic Spring Training in which he posted a 33:5 K:BB ratio in 27 innings while featuring a fastball above 93mph, Liriano is looking like his 2011 self. His first two starts have left him with an ERA of 10.00, and he's walked five hitters in nine innings while striking out just six. There's certainly time to turn it around, but it's in his best financial interest to do so sooner rather than later.
Liriano is a free agent following this season, and while he has the talent to be one of the game's most dominant southpaws, his consistency will limit his free agent earnings. A return to his 2010 ways would be enough to entice suitors to pony up on a multiyear deal, perhaps similar to the three-year, $32MM deal signed by Jorge De La Rosa following the 2010 season. With enough interested parties, larger offers wouldn't be out of the question for a 29-year-old lefty with ace-caliber stuff.
A repeat of his 2011 numbers, however, would likely relegate Liriano to a one-year deal in which he'd be seeking to prove that he can still pitch at this level. The next six months could very well mean tens of millions of dollars to the enigmatic lefty.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Terada/US Presswire.
Here's a round-up of news from the AL Central…
- With Miguel Cabrera taking over at the hot corner for the Tigers, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press looks at how the switch affects the progress of third baseman Nick Castellanos, one of the team's top prospects. I can't see this being a major long-term issue — Castellanos is just 19 and I can't see Cabrera staying on third for very long, given his defensive limitations. If anything, Victor Martinez could be the odd man out, with Prince Fielder locked in at first and Cabrera probably requiring a move to DH sooner rather than later.
- Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star covered a number of Royals topics as part of a live chat with fans earlier today.
- The players the Indians acquired for C.C. Sabathia in 2008 have produced -0.6 WAR in the three-plus seasons since the trade, writes Fangraphs' J.P. Breen. "The Indians still have nine years of control between [Matt] LaPorta and [Michael] Brantley, but neither appear destined for full-time roles at the big league level," Breen writes.
- Twins starter Francisco Liriano has worked on his mechanics and better locating his fastball this winter in preparation for what could be a make-or-break season for the southpaw, reports Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities Radio.
- Dick Allen's arrival in 1972 didn't just make the White Sox better on the field, but his presence might have also helped keep the team in Chicago, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
The Twins avoided arbitration with starter Francisco Liriano, signing the Legacy Sports client to a $5.5MM deal, tweets ESPN's Enrique Rojas. It was a rough year for Liriano, limiting his raise to $1.2MM. He'll be a free agent after 2012.
The Twins' arbitration agenda will be complete if they sign infielder Alexi Casilla.