Our Thoughts: Francisco Liriano Signs With Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates solidified their pitching rotation after reports today name veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano has agreed to a deal with the Bucs.

Liriano spent time with the Minnesota Twins before being moved to the Chicago White Sox in July of this year.

The Star Tribune said the deal is two-years, $14 million.  We are big fans of southpaws at PNC Park, so here is what we wrote about Liriano this October:

The Pittsburgh Pirates have some work to do this offseason. Manager Clint Hurdle has said that he has two of the best starters he has ever had at the top of a rotation. A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez will lead the way and how they perform will certainly tell a great deal about the 2013 Pirates. But look for the Pirates to be agressive shoppers for more starting pitching this offseason.

Ideally, the Bucs need to catch another trade partner that turns out like Burnett. OK, that’s unlikely, so what’s the alternative? Free Agency? We think you know how we feel about that topic.

The Pirates are going to do it anyway. Be on the lookout for an Erik Bedard type deal on the horizon.

Sometimes we think the Pirates make a high risk-high reward move because it’s the trendy thing to do for small market teams, but what is the ratio of failure on such moves? People like me often write that it’s a move that a team like the Bucs need to make. Sure it is. A.J. Burnett was a rather high risk move for the Pirates to make. It turned out as a big positive, let’s not ever overlook that fact. But the Pirates have had a cold hand when dealing with free agency.

When we look at the market for 2013 we immediately look at left handers. It would surprise us if the Pirates simply turn over a rotation spot to their own left-hander Jeff Locke. He showed the ability to strike batters out, but was also susceptible to the long ball.

A bounce back lefty candidate this offseason would be Francisco Liriano. Remember what Liriano did early in the 2012 season? It appeared that he was on the way to returning to his 2010 form, listen to this. It’s surprising that the Twins left-hander went from pitching 30 innings in winter ball last year to coming into spring training and pitching like the 2010 Liriano to being traded to the Division rival Sox.

That’s moving quickly ladies and gentlemen.

Back in 2011, Liriano threw the first no-hitter of the season when he threw 123 pitches including six walks to get the no-no.

He’s not going to blow you away, hell he was demoted from the starting rotation to the bullpen for the Twins and the Sox in the same season. Hence, the high risk part of the equation. Hell, Liriano flirted with a no-no as recently as a month ago. He’s a pitcher that when he is filling up the zone, his slider and change can make bad guys look silly.

But like Bedard, when he struggles to throw strikes, he can fill up the scoreboard. He’s almost 30 years old and allowed over five runs a game in his 28 starts this year with the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox.  But like Burnett, the numbers inside the numbers show that he should have posted better ERA, etc…

The 6’2″ Dominican born Liriano struck out 167 batters in 156.2 innings in 2012, but also walked 87, so yeh, he has some control issues. 87 walks is a big number. A real big number.

The lefty is a career 4.40 ERA guy, but he gave up nearly seven runs per nine innings this September with 19 walks in 25 innings pitched, but he did punch out 25 over those 25 innings pitched with the Sox. So who is the real Fransico Liraino and will the Bucs roll the dice again? Liriano earned $5.5 million dollars in 2012.

The guy has promise, a move to the National League should only help him. We believe it will come down to this, do the Pirates think they can help him which is numero uno. The pitching staff surely thinks they can, it’s their job.

So, with that answered, will the left hander bite on an offer from Pittsburgh? Stay tuned.

Liriano splits from ESPN

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