April 27, 2008
Twins Notes: Liriano, More Liriano, Korecky, and Waldrop
Instead, the Twins called up Liriano shortly after Cliburn uttered those words and stuck him right back into the rotation. He looked shaky in his first two starts and then completely fell apart in his third outing Thursday against the A's, allowing six runs on five hits and three walks without making it out of the first inning. Liriano's first two post-surgery outings were recapped in plenty of detail here, and the third start featured the same decreased velocity and lack of command.
I would say maybe one more start here to get a little bit more command, maybe build a little bit more strength. That would be my call. Of course, I know it's going to be a group decision. His health is good. His strength is good. His mound presence is good. He just pitched backwards, and maybe he just wanted to find out if he could use all his pitches.
After going 0-3 with an 11.32 ERA, 13 walks, and a .366 batting average against in three starts, his comeback was aborted Friday and Liriano was sent back to Triple-A. He rarely looked comfortable on the mound or capable of consistently getting big-league hitters out with the stuff he was working with, and Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com LaVelle E. Neal III reports that Liriano will stay in Rochester "for a while." Here's what pitching coach Rick Anderson had to say about the three-start comeback:
Confidence comes with success. He's got to get down there and clear his mind, and he admitted to me that he's thinking too much about what he's doing. I asked him, "How did you feel before you were hurt?" He said, "I didn't think, I just threw." He's not to that point yet. When he does get to that point, he will have success, and success breeds confidence.
What Anderson said is true, but no amount of confidence is going to make up for Liriano's missing velocity. General manager Bill Smith said Friday that "there's no harm done" in calling up Liriano when the Twins did, but Anderson's quote about his current lack of confidence may contradict that somewhat. Smith also admitted that the Twins rushed Liriano's return timetable "just a bit" due to Kevin Slowey's biceps injury, which seems incredibly short-sighted.
"I think we did the right thing," Smith said. "Maybe the best thing that will come out of this is everyone realizes he's not ready." Fair enough, but given how he pitched this spring and during his abbreviated stay in the minors, it's unclear exactly what made the Twins think that Liriano would have success in the majors to begin with. Of course, my MinnPost colleague Pat Borzi recently wrote that the Twins may have wanted Liriano in the majors just to keep an eye on him regardless of his performance.
It seems pretty obvious now that those reports were completely false, because Liriano averaged 88-91 miles per hour with his fastball this month, reached 93 MPH on maybe a handful of pitches in three starts, and never came anywhere close to "throwing it up to 96" at any point. Nearly every report about Liriano prior to his arrival at spring training noted that he was looking good and throwing as hard as ever, which is astounding given what we know now.
That got my dander up at the time, because it differed dramatically from every other Liriano report, yet Ringolsby didn't see fit to expand upon his note. My response here opined that the Liriano information "would be worthy of more than a one-line note buried midway through Ringolsby's column if it was based on serious reporting" and suggested that "if Ringolsby has solid information about Liriano being behind schedule, it'd be nice to engage in a little journalism by sharing with the rest of the class."
For the most part my feelings on Ringolsby's report haven't changed. It seemed to me that "he will not be ready until midseason" implied that Liriano wouldn't pitch until then, let alone pitch multiple times in April. Beyond that, Ringolsby dropping that little tidbit into the middle of a column without going into any further detail still seems odd to me, but while engaging in an extremely long, testy e-mail discussion with me over the past few weeks Ringolsby explained that his non-Rockies coverage is limited.
Of course, the column that the Liriano note appeared in contained 1,300 words of non-Rockies content, so Ringolsby certainly could have offered up another sentence or two if he felt that the news he was passing along had major importance. Whatever the case, my dismissal of Ringolsby's note was due partly to it differing from what later proved to be totally inaccurate reports, making the whole situation an interesting reminder not to believe everything you read regardless of the source (among other things).
He's spent parts of three seasons at Triple-A, posting a 3.31 ERA and 111-to-54 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 149.1 total innings. Korecky has been a closer in the minors, saving 110 career games, but he's already 28 years old and his low strikeout rate combined with mediocre control make it unlikely that he'll succeed as a late-inning option in the majors. With that said, Korecky has a 3.04 ERA in 365 pro innings and induces a high percentage of ground balls, so a middle-relief gig seems doable.
It's possible that a year of lost development time won't hurt Waldrop's long-term outlook as much as it would an elite pitching prospect, because he's relatively polished and seemingly doesn't have a ton of projection remaining. Of course, he'll have to come back from the surgery first and that's certainly no sure thing. Along with Waldrop's season-ending shoulder injury, LEN3 reports that No. 13 prospect Deibinson Romero will miss 3-4 weeks following surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee.
The closer he's gotten to the majors the more difficult it's been for Waldrop to succeed on that mediocre stuff, which is evident by his sub par strikeout rates and the deterioration of his once-great control. With that said, it's important to note that he's only 22 years old despite logging over 500 pro innings already and has induced two ground balls for every fly ball over the past two seasons, which shows that he's still capable of having a solid big-league career as a fourth or fifth starter.
IP H R ER BB SO HR
Kevin Slowey 3.0 1 1 1 1 5 1
Deolis Guerra 4.0 4 3 2 2 3 1
Danny Graves 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Tim Lahey 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Making his way back from a strained biceps, Slowey began his rehab assignment by starting the game and tossed three solid innings. Guerra came on in relief and worked four innings to pick up the win. Danny Graves, who was an All-Star closer with the Reds and is now little more than minor-league filler at the age of 33, pitched a scoreless eighth inning. And Tim Lahey, who was briefly lost via the Rule 5 draft before returning to the organization earlier this month, closed things out.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.