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  • Changing Focus: The Danny Valencia & Francisco Liriano Moves

    At some (very depressing) point, as a season turns into an extended offseason, the focus needs to change. For the Twins, that change has been coming since the middle of last week. The turning point was tonight.

    At some point, the focus changes from the team to the players. The moves become less about what the team needs, and more about what each player needs. It doesnít necessarily mean coming down on one side or the other, but the balance changes. That balance changed tonight.

    Tonight third baseman Danny Valencia was sent to AAA-Rochester and starting pitcher Francisco Liriano was sent to the bullpen. I like both moves, because I agree with the change in focus.

    I donít know if Valencia is ever going to be a competent starting third baseman in the majors. Nobody does. But I sure used to think so. This move isnít a punishment Ė itís a release. Valencia is hitting .198, 50 points lower than last year, which was 50 points lower than 2010. As bad as that is, thatís not the most alarming of his statistics. Heís also struck out 23 times in 96 AB Ė and walked just twice.

    I donít know what he needs, but he isnít finding it here. I wonít argue with those suggesting that itís foolish for a club to invest time in a 27-year-oldís career in AAA. But at this point, one needs to try things. Maybe AAA might reestablish Valenciaís confidence. With literally zero third base options in the Twins pipeline until at least 2014, why not try it?

    Which is exactly the philosophy for the other big move. Liriano is moved to the bullpen to try and regain some Ö. well, name it what you will. Confidence? Mojo? Momentum? Or, if you're especially cynical: Equity? They all work. The Twins and Liriano have tried everything else, and short of demoting him (which I suspect he and his agent would resist) this is the last option.

    If youíre of the opinion that Liriano needs to be traded for something valuable, I gotta think you like this move. Maybe Liriano can build some value. A decent reliever is valuable at the trade deadline. Even more so if heís a southpaw. His value certainly canít decrease.

    As for the rest Ė meh. Matt Maloney was the odd man out with another lefty moving to the bullpen. That's unlucky for him. I like Darin Mastoianni as a infield/outfield utility guy, though his infield coverage is limited. One can argue whether heís the best fit, but Iím getting weary of sweating where deck chairs should be moved. PJ Walters must have had the right mix of control, BABIP and veterany goodness to make him the default pick for the open rotation spot. That's not the way I would go, but Iím not nearly as close to this situation, and it's close to a tie. Whatever.

    The bad news is that these look more and more like the moves of a last place team looking to the future. The good news is that is probably the correct philosophy to embrace. The focus is changing from the team to the individuals, and for both of these individuals, the change in focus looks to be wise.
    This article was originally published in blog: Changing Focus: The Danny Valencia & Francisco Liriano Moves started by John Bonnes
    Comments 42 Comments
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Matt Maloney was the odd man out with another lefty moving to the bullpen. That's unlucky for him.
      "Unlucky"? He was flat-out terrible, which is exactly what his track record foretold. He never should have been on the team in the first place, regardless of his spring training statistics.
    1. James Richter's Avatar
      James Richter -
      For a guy as cocky as Valencia, this is a great wake-up call. If he can adjust his approach to the point where he's not getting himself out all the time, he could be useful again (to somebody), at least as the short half of a platoon. I'm also interested to see whether Plouffe can handle 3B better than SS.

      I see your point on Liriano. But I still think they should have thrown him in the car with the cougar.

      As long as we're adding marginal pitchers in their late 20's to the roster, when's it going to be Slama's turn?
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      I have a feeling this year the twins are going to continually shift players from the bigs to the minors. This is what happens when the top levels of your organizatin are filled with nothing but replacement level or below replacemnt level players. These are all interchangeable parts.
    1. Sanibelchuck's Avatar
      Sanibelchuck -
      About time for Valencia to be demoted. This guy thinks he is much better than anyone else. He is the only player that I have ever met that refused to sign his rookie card.
    1. ajr81_2002's Avatar
      ajr81_2002 -
      I love the Valencia move. He thinks he is great. The other night during the "Pick the Sticks" bit that the FSN crew does pre-game, Valencia walked up to the camera and asked one of the commentators (Roy, maybe) why he wasn't getting any love. Joke or not, there are a lot of irritated fans out there. Danny needs to hit the ball before he jokes on camera about how good he thinks he is.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      This should serve as a little wake-up call for everybody else on the team as well not named Joe, Josh, or Justin.

      I was excited at the start of the year when I looked at the lineup--on base guys, power guys, speed guys. The lineup last night made me wince. Do you think Plouffe will get an extended look at 3B? Or RF? Can they bring up Bates and get Parmalee to AAA where he needs to be?
    1. PogueBear's Avatar
      PogueBear -
      These are the bold(er) roster moves that I feel Bill Smith never had the cojones to do. The sooner this organization embraces a rebuilding season, the better. Every ounce of value that can be had by trading Span, Pavano, and maybe even Liriano (if he pitches well in the bullpen), must be milked out of 2012. I don't think you can necessarily go after other teams' blue chip prospects with those pieces, but someone like Span (especially with a team friendly contract) should at least fetch a higher-ceiling pitching prospect. 2001's marketing campaign was "Get to Know 'Em;" 2012's unofficial campaign will be "Say Your Goodbyes." I will definitely miss Span, but like Hunter, he'll still be easy to root for in other colors, especially since the Nationals are in the NL.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Clearly Valencia has the talent and confidence to succeed in the big leagues. This step backwards is likely/hopefully the thing that can help him figure things out again.

      Consider this as well... if Valencia spent the whole season with the Twins, he would most likely be a Super 2 and make a bunch of money next year. If he goes down for a month (maybe 5 weeks), something clicks and he turns the career around, the Twins get an extra year of time at near-league minimum.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Did you guys catch Valencia's quote where he said his defense has been great, just his hitting has been lacking?
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      John, who's the everyday 3b now? Or is it a mixture of Casilla, Plouffe, and Carrol?
    1. SBG's Avatar
      SBG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Clearly Valencia has the talent and confidence to succeed in the big leagues. This step backwards is likely/hopefully the thing that can help him figure things out again.

      Consider this as well... if Valencia spent the whole season with the Twins, he would most likely be a Super 2 and make a bunch of money next year. If he goes down for a month (maybe 5 weeks), something clicks and he turns the career around, the Twins get an extra year of time at near-league minimum.
      Seth, I don't think it is at all clear that he has the talent to succeed in the big leagues. He is a career.235/.274/.357 hitter against right handers. That's not exactly good from a corner infielder. Add to that the evidence that suggests that he is, at best, a below average fielder and I think he's a marginal big leaguer with one good skill -- he mashes lefties.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Clearly Valencia has the talent and confidence to succeed in the big leagues. This step backwards is likely/hopefully the thing that can help him figure things out again.

      Consider this as well... if Valencia spent the whole season with the Twins, he would most likely be a Super 2 and make a bunch of money next year. If he goes down for a month (maybe 5 weeks), something clicks and he turns the career around, the Twins get an extra year of time at near-league minimum.
      Or which ever team he gets traded to. If this move helps his trade value at the deadline it was a great decision. If a callup coincides with his yearly July surge the team might get some value back for him.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by nokomismod View Post
      Did you guys catch Valencia's quote where he said his defense has been great, just his hitting has been lacking?
      The broadcast crew noted during the game (when they obviously had no idea he'd be sent down afterwards) that his defense had been significantly better in the past three weeks. I'm not sure I agree with that sentiment, as his range leaves something to be desired even if he isn't making errors, but take it for what it's worth.

      What people need to understand about Valencia and this move is that Valencia is not a "prospect". He's 9 days older than Ryan Zimmerman. It just doesn't feel that way because Zimmerman was up in the majors in 2006 playing a full season and posting better numbers at Age 21 than Valencia ever will. However, in terms of their development arc, Zimmerman and Valencia are at roughly the same place. Valencia is what he is. He was never was really supposed to be a 10-year solution at 3rd base...he was only thrust into that role because Joe Crede didn't work out the year before, and the only other options were guys like Harris and Punto.

      Did anybody else catch Valencia with Robby Incmikowski (sp?) in the pregame on Monday? Robby was razzing him about why they had picked Mauer instead of him for Pick the Stick, and instead of just rolling with it, Valencia something to the effect of "Whatever, you would jump on Joe Mauer if you had the chance". I didn't see if anyone else noticed it on Twitter or the boards, but this is just yet another example of this guy's immaturity, and you can imagine there are much worse cringe-inducing moments behind closed doors. Those would be excused if he was a serviceable big leaguer, but unfortunately, he isn't.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      "Unlucky"? He was flat-out terrible, which is exactly what his track record foretold. He never should have been on the team in the first place, regardless of his spring training statistics.
      By unlucky, I was referring to Liriano being left-handed. If he was right-handed, I think someone else would have gone.
    1. Gernzy's Avatar
      Gernzy -
      Quote Originally Posted by nokomismod View Post
      John, who's the everyday 3b now? Or is it a mixture of Casilla, Plouffe, and Carrol?
      Exactly right. I have a feeling it will be mostly Carroll with Casilla at 2B.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      What people need to understand about Valencia and this move is that Valencia is not a "prospect". He's 9 days older than Ryan Zimmerman. It just doesn't feel that way because Zimmerman was up in the majors in 2006 playing a full season and posting better numbers at Age 21 than Valencia ever will.
      I'm not sure I totally understand what this means. If the point is that Valencia's ceiling is pretty low, I agree. But I still think Valencia could have a Coomerific career in the majors. And I always cut a little slack to 3B for their age. For some reason, a lot of them make it to the bigs a bit later.

      One other point I should have made in the story: right about now it might be nice to have Luke Hughes in the organization.
    1. cr9617's Avatar
      cr9617 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Clearly Valencia has the talent and confidence to succeed in the big leagues. This step backwards is likely/hopefully the thing that can help him figure things out again.

      Consider this as well... if Valencia spent the whole season with the Twins, he would most likely be a Super 2 and make a bunch of money next year. If he goes down for a month (maybe 5 weeks), something clicks and he turns the career around, the Twins get an extra year of time at near-league minimum.
      Come on Seth. He was never a top flight prospect to begin with, so we shouldn't be surprised by his struggles. The guys has no range and does only 1 thing well....hit left handed pitching. He's not a Major League starting third baseman.


      He was overhyped from the start, just like Parmelee, Revere, Hendricks, etc....Hopefully Dozier breaks the mold and outperforms.
    1. lee_the_twins_fan's Avatar
      lee_the_twins_fan -
      So when Morneau comes off the DL, and is able to play 1B will Parmalee get the regular 3B job? To me, it makes the most sense.*
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gernzy View Post
      Exactly right. I have a feeling it will be mostly Carroll with Casilla at 2B.
      I suspect the same. Carroll, mostly. Some Plouffe.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Danny is not and never was a prospect of any value. He would not have made the bigs on more than 2 or 3 other teams outside of an absolute emergency. The fact that people even mistake him for a prospect speaks to the dire strairs of the Twins minor leagues. He should be nothing more than a AAA afterthought in a good org.
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