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Minnesota Twins: Fixing the Rotation

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer IJuly 14, 2008

As the All-Star Break is upon us baseball fans need something to occupy themselves with until Tuesday. Most fans will analyze their team until they are blue in the face, and that is exactly my intention.

This is the second part of my "fixing" series. I have three steps that I would take to fix the Twins this year, and this time I will take a look at the starting pitching rotation:

2. Leave the Rotation Alone

My idea for this rotation is very original and very boring. I suggest that the Minnesota Twins simply leave the starting five alone.

Here is what the rotation looks like as we stand at the break:

1. Scott Baker
2. Kevin Slowey
3. Nick Blackburn
4. Livan Hernandez
5. Glen Perkins

Obviously the first three pitchers are not going anywhere anytime soon. Baker has been the ace of this rotation and both Slowey and Blackburn have strung together some very nice starts and are proving to be very effective against major league hitting.

The two question marks are Livan Hernandez and Glen Perkins.

Hernandez was brought on before this season to be the 'ace' that Santana was before he was traded. He hasn't lived up to expectations, but is doing adequately behind the unusually stellar offense of the Twins.

Perkins was originally from the bullpen where he worked in relief. After Boof Bonser proved to be horrible Perkins was transferred to take his spot.

Thus far it seems that Perkins is doing a fine job, but is the pitcher most likely to go should a certain Francisco Liriano prove himself in the minor leagues.

Minnesota management hesitated to call Liriano up when he first showed signs of success against minor league batters simply because it could be a fluke. Instead, they opted to keep him in the system for the long-haul, or at least until he could show his dominance.

Surprise! Liriano has apparently found his stuff again. He is currently on a streak on 20 scoreless innings. During that span he has 24 strikeouts. If that isn't dominance, I don't know what is.

It is almost a given that Liriano will find himself back with the big boys after the All-Star Break. The question that remains, however, is where he will be placed, and whose position he will take.

The general opinion, and the most probable course Minnesota will take, is to simply send Perkins back to the bullpen or to the minors and place Liriano and his golden arm back in the rotation.

I, however, have a different idea.

I say that Minnesota should leave the rotation alone. They are proving to be decent at worst, and I would hate for them to ruin the chemistry among those five.

Should Liriano be placed back in the rotation and once again fail miserably, the Twins would be forced to reshuffle the roster and insert Perkins once again in the starting five and find a place for Liriano.

Although unlikely, it could be disastrous. I would suggest placing Liriano in the bullpen immediately following the All-Star Break. I have received a lot of heat for this idea, but I am sticking to it.

People are saying that Liriano will not be used in the bullpen because he can't throw strikes. I have also heard that Liriano will only be put in the bullpen if his career is about to fall apart.

While those might be true, I think it would only be fair to give Liriano a chance to audition for the eighth inning, set-up man. It wouldn't be for an extended period of time unless he absolutely dominated in that role.

There is a desperate need in the organization for another arm in the bullpen, and I think Liriano fits the bull. As soon as Neshek is ready to go again next year and Hernandez is gone Liriano can assume his rightful position as a starter.

However, in the unlikely scenario that Hernandez is traded before the deadline Liriano would be forced to join the rotation right off the bat. While I have no doubts that he can manage himself, I think he should be allowed a go in the bullpen.

Do I think this will happen? Probably not. Would I do it if I were Bill Smith? Probably.

It's just an idea that I'm throwing out there, so feel free to rip it shreds. I have yet to actually find somebody who agrees with me.

Tomorrow I will post my third and final step to "fixing" this team; finding a third baseman.

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