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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nova/Pena/Chamberlain for Liriano: No Dice in 2011

Andrew Marchand over at ESPN is reporting that the Yankees offered pitcher Ivan Nova and infielder Ramiro Pena for Francisco Liriano. Marchand describes this offer as "underwhelming" at first glance, but indicates his belief that the Twins like these two guys, and notes that Liriano has yet to pitch back-to-back good seasons. He thinks that the deal as proposed is not going to happen, but that if Joba Chamberlain is added, it would be possible.

Let's assume that the Twins would (and probably did) reject the Nova/Pena deal. But what if Chamberlain was added to the package? As a fan, it would not change my opinion that, for 2011, the Twins should hang onto Liriano. Yes, he has a strange, problematic delivery and will always be one pitch away from another major injury, and yes, he has not been consistent from year to year. Neither of those facts militate in favor of this trade.

I'm concerned with what the Twins are going to do in 2011, and am less concerned with 2012 and beyond. This is because I am a fan. If I ran the Twins or even worked for them, my views would be equally geared toward 2011, and toward the future. 2011 will undoubtedly be the last year featuring this ensemble of players: Cuddyer, Kubel, Thome, Liriano and Young. One or more will be traded, leave in free agency, or retire after 2011. And 2011 represents a year when we are still expecting great things from Mauer and (a healthy) Morneau, and when Danny Valencia could come into his own and be extremely affordable. Regardless of whether you like these players, or believe that they are overpaid and undertalented, they all have had successful seasons for the Twins, and it is very valuable to have them all on the same team, at the same time. To disrupt what, on paper, is a wonderful roster, by trading our only left-handed power pitcher, does great violence to the Twins' ability to compete in 2011.

I'm not suggesting that Liriano doesn't have a price, but, heading into a very important 2011 season where the expectations are high, that price is not a right-handed pitcher, an infielder and a potential closer (aren't we paying 2 right now?) who showed up fat to spring training and whose arm may be ruined. I think the Liriano conversation is one best saved for next offseason.

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