Trade Liriano, It isn't just crazy talk - (Follow Up)

In today's Star Tribune, Joe Christensen touches on an interesting topic.  The market value of Francisco Liriano versus the value the Twins put on him.  Liriano and his handlers have started the negotiations of his contract at 3 years/ $39M but the Twins apparently have no interest in making that kind of commitment to him.  The Twins have recently agreed to terms with Liriano on a 1 year deal worth $4.3M to avoid arbitration and is under team control for one additional year.  Are the Twins going to just let Liriano walk or will they pony up for a long-term deal to keep him?


That question got me to thinking about the word value.  A starting pitcher is a very unique player on a team.  No single player has more control over the outcome of a game than a starter does.  As a Twins fan I love that our local nine is relevant, plays for the Division title every year and has played in some post season games over the last 10 years.  I have to admit, now that we have gotten where we are, I want more.


Losing to the New York Yankees last year left an awful taste in my mouth.  The regular season was a blast;  Winning 94 games, Mauer hits .327, Delmon drives in 112 runs & no one can deny that Pavano was really fun in winning 17 games.  It wasn't enough though.  We need to beat the Yankees.


It takes a really special player to toe the rubber in a playoff game against the likes of the Yankees.  They have the history behind them, the mystique & a great hitting line-up to contend with.  Who will the Twins throw out there if it happens again?  Francisco Liriano, of course.


All that being said, Liriano isn't on the hill because he is one of baseballs great pitchers.  He is on the hill because he is arguably the best pitcher on a very good team.


The Rub

Going through all major league rosters I came up with 55 other Starting Pitchers that I would rather have start game #1 vs. the Yankees than "Franchise".  Here is the list.  Please don't get hung up on the order that they are in, I didn't put too much time into that, but rather just wanted a list of players in 2011 that, if healthy, I would rather be facing the Bronx Bombers than Liriano.

Rank Pitcher
1 Roy Halladay
2 Tim Lincecum
3 Ubaldo Jimenez
4 Felix Hernandez
5 Josh Johnson
6 Cliff Lee
7 David Price
8 Jon Lester
9 Justin Verlander
10 Jared Weaver
11 Chris Carpenter
12 Clayton Kershaw
13 Tim Hudson
14 Roy Oswalt
15 Zach Greinke
16 Fausto Carmona
17 Mat Latos
18 CC Sabathia
19 Tommy Hanson
20 Matt Cain
21 Mark Buerhle
22 Brett Myers
23 Adam Wainwright
24 Ryan Dempster
25 Clay Bucholtz
26 Brett Anderson
27 Erik Bedard
28 Dan Haren
29 Chad Billingsley
30 Edinson Volquez
31 Cole Hamels
32 Yovani Gallardo
33 Madison Bumgarner
34 Matt Garza
35 Dallas Braden
36 Jeremy Guthrie
37 Johnny Cueto
38 John Danks
39 Trevor Cahill
40 Colby Lewis
41 Ervin Santana
42 Max Scherzer
43 Wandy Rodriquez
44 Jeremy Hellickson
45 Ted Lilly
46 John Lackey
47 Ricky Romero
48 C.J. Wilson
49 Phil Hughes
50 Stephen Strasberg
51 Josh Beckett
52 Bronson Arroyo
53 Jake Peavy
54 Gavin Floyd
55 Hiroki Kuroda
56 Francisco Liriano

You can argue the list.  It is simply an opinion of evaluation of talent.  I personally would take anybody else on this list to pitch game #1 than Frankie.


Using this assumption I put him as the 56th best pitcher in baseball.  I mean, what is a better indicator of value than who you would want to start a playoff game for you?  There is an ability to throw 200+ innings during the season, keep their team in a pennant race, stay off the DL, etc.  This argument to move Liriano up on this list doesn't hold too much weight with me as a guy who had arm trouble in the Minor Leagues and then Tommy John Surgery at the Major League level.  There is definitely an injury concern that looms with Liriano.


Value Equals Salary?

This isn't a fair world.  Some people get paid less to do better work and vice-versa.  In a perfect world the best pitchers would get paid the most and the next best would get slotted financially accordingly.  If that were the case, based off 2010 salaries Francisco Liriano would get slotted in at...

1 CC Sabathia 30  $24,285,714.00
2 Johan Santana 31  $20,144,707.00
3 Carlos Zambrano 29  $18,875,000.00
4 John Lackey 32  $18,700,000.00
5 Barry Zito 32  $18,500,000.00
6 A.J. Burnett 34  $16,500,000.00
7 Chris Carpenter 35  $15,840,971.00
8 Roy Halladay 33  $15,750,000.00
9 Hiroki Kuroda 36  $15,433,333.00
10 Roy Oswalt 33  $15,000,000.00
11 Jake Peavy 29  $15,000,000.00
12 Derek Lowe 37  $15,000,000.00
13 Mark Buehrle 31  $14,000,000.00
14 Ryan Dempster 33  $13,500,000.00
15 Ted Lilly 35  $13,000,000.00
16 Jeff Suppan 36  $12,750,000.00
17 Carlos Silva 31  $12,750,000.00
18 Aaron Harang 32  $12,500,000.00
19 Jeremy Bonderman 28  $12,500,000.00
20 Josh Beckett 30  $12,100,000.00
21 Oliver Perez 29  $12,000,000.00
22 Kevin Millwood 36  $12,000,000.00
23 Bronson Arroyo 33  $11,625,000.00
24 Javier Vazquez 34  $11,500,000.00
25 Jake Westbrook 33  $11,000,000.00
26 Ben Sheets 32  $10,000,000.00
27 Aaron Cook 32  $  9,625,000.00
28 Kyle Lohse 32  $  9,187,500.00
29 Tim Lincecum 26  $  9,000,000.00
30 Cliff Lee 32  $  9,000,000.00
31 Tim Hudson 35  $  9,000,000.00
32 Randy Wolf 34  $  8,800,276.00
33 Brandon Webb 31  $  8,500,000.00
34 Daisuke Matsuzaka 30  $  8,333,333.00
35 Dan Haren 30  $  8,250,000.00
36 Jamie Moyer 48  $  8,000,000.00
37 Scott Kazmir 27  $  8,000,000.00
38 Joel Pineiro 32  $  8,000,000.00
39 Jason Marquis 32  $  7,500,000.00
40 Brad Penny 32  $  7,500,000.00
41 Zack Greinke 27  $  7,250,000.00
42 Felix Hernandez 24  $  7,200,000.00
43 Carl Pavano 35  $  7,000,000.00
44 Justin Verlander 27  $  6,850,000.00
45 Cole Hamels 27  $  6,650,000.00
46 Rich Harden 29  $  6,500,000.00
47 Chris Young 31  $  6,375,000.00
48 Ervin Santana 28  $  6,000,000.00
49 Jeff Francis 30  $  5,750,000.00
50 Jorge De La Rosa 29  $  5,600,000.00
51 Fausto Carmona 27  $  5,087,500.00
52 Vicente Padilla 33  $  5,025,000.00
53 Paul Maholm 28  $  5,000,000.00
54 Wandy Rodriguez 32  $  5,000,000.00
55 Adam Wainwright 29  $  4,837,500.00
56 Jon Garland 31  $  4,700,000.00


4.7 Million Dollars

Francisco Liriano is asking for $13M a year for the next 3 years.  According to my slotting theory, Francisco and his agent consider him the 15th best pitcher in baseball; tied with Ted Lilly.  Now, I am not a huge Ted Lilly fan, but I do consider him (on my list) slightly better than Liriano.  Unfortunately, I also put an additional 39 players ahead of Liriano.  Now we can argue the value of some of the sad contracts on here (See Scott Kazmir, for example) but when considering the money that we will have to pay Liriano to stay here versus what I value him at, I am with the Twins on this one.  Get two more years out of him and get the 2 first rounder's for him when he becomes a free agent.  The value just isn't there.


Here is a link to read Joe C's article:

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