There is some degree of…exquisite beauty in watching the entire Minnesota Twins house of cards collapse at once. Off to a very slow start and suffering injuries at many positions, the team’s often-curious decision making pokes increasingly large holes in the Gardenhire mystique.

The latest questionable dose of Gardiness came when asked about Twins starter Francisco Liriano. The Twins de facto ace hasn’t pitched well in 2011 but is clearly the best pitcher on a troubled staff. Despite striking out 201 batters just under 200 innings last year, en route to a 3.62 ERA and 2.66 FIP, Gardenhire thinks Franky should change his approach.

This offends me on both a stylistic and logical basis. No pitcher should invite contact, should they? God only knows what happens when the round bat meets the round ball, everybody knows what happens after strike three.

Liriano took the mound against the feeble Royals today with his coach’s words ringing in his ear. The results? Ugly. Hardball Talk’s Aaron Gleeman has the rundown of Liriano’s fourth inning, also know as “When BABIP Attacks”

Single
Single
Single
Single
Single
Double
Ground out
Single
Caught stealing
Single
Strikeout

Watching this ugliness unfold live here at theScore HQ was quite a sight to behold. All balls hit on the ground save a couple bloopers and humpbacked liners. Death by a thousand cuts. Nothing hit especially hard, just more and more proof that pitching to contact results in contact. Don’t give up too many hits without contact, my old man used to tell me.

Advocating a catchall philosphy is dangerous as not all pitchers are created equal. Liriano has a great stuff and the ability to miss bats and tie opposing hitters up in knots. Beyond that seemingly obvious point, the Twins are a downright poor defensive team. Turning balls in play into outs is not something one can take for granted when one starts Michael Cuddyer at second base, he of 18 innings at the position since 2005.

Demanding Liriano pitch to contact is even crazier when you realize his opposition today was THE ROYALS – a team actively employing Jeff Francoeur. Why pitch to contact when you can throw the ball where he literally cannot reach it and he’ll still swing! One pitch in the other batters box, one slider on his shoe tops, one fastball at his eyes and that at bat is done. Over. Move on to the next guy.

Some team is going to get very, very lucky when the Twins finally just trade Liriano for pennies on the dollar out of frustration. I wonder if any teams have a glut of middling, pitch-to-contact fly ball starters lying around to complete such a deal?

Comments (6)

  1. I don’t know, I’m sure Twins fan appreciate the 6 division titles over the past decade.

  2. Liriano: “Yeah, pitching to contact is hard for me, but I really want to go deeper into games.”

    Me: (smashing head against my desk)

    List of priorities:
    1. Get people out. (Best way to guarantee this, K)
    2. Pitch deep into games.

    Maybe Minnesota will trade Liriano for Cecil. Cecil would fit right into what Minnesota wants.

  3. Sorry, should mention the Liriano quote was a later tweet from Phil MacKay.

  4. dougiejays, they won those 6 division titles because they had some very good players in a relatively weak division, not because Ron Gardenhire frequently told those players to get themselves out on purpose.

  5. /tallest midget joke

  6. The Twins won that many division titles because of a smart front office/scouting staff and as Ty says, a weak division.

    I wrote about Liriano a while ago. Free Liriano and Rasmus from shitty managers who can’t get their own heads out of their asses.

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