Mlb 2008 Season: Will Liriano be Able to Replace Santana?

by : Stephen Lars

The Minnesota Twins are going through a tough time due to the loss of part of their team, including the great Johan Santana, but despite the current situation the panorama does not look so devastating due to Francisco Liriano who is back after an elbow surgery, which took place 17 months ago.

Some of his teammates consider that the presence of the left-handed Dominican will ease the exit of the Venezuelan Santana, who won in two occasions the Cy Young trophy and was transferred to the New York Mets.

Presently, Liriano faces the challenge to ensure everyone he is completely healthy and he can repeat the impressive performance he showed when first stepped into the major leagues in 2006, launching even better than Santana.

The Twins don't want take risks with Liriano's health and they are treating him skillfully, recalling the experience of his debut. Francisco Liriano initiated in the major leagues with a record of 13-3 and 2,16 of effectiveness until he began to feel pain in the elbow. After some rest his return barely lasted two innings; Liriano was rushed to the operation room, being submitted to an elbow reconstruction and losing completely the 2007 season.

The Minnesota Twins stated they feel confident Liriano can recover completely the powerful left-hand; a very valuable piece for the rotation. Although; Liriano affirms his arm is well he thinks he took a lot of percussions to avoid any inconveniences.

The return of the 24-years-old pitcher is of great importance for the Twins. In fact, he hopes to take the team to a higher level within the competitive American League Central Division.

Santana was not the only opener that left; also Venezuelan Carlos Silva signed as free agent with Seattle and Matt Garza transferred to Tampa Bay.

Even with Liriano healthy, the openers rotation generates questioning especially by players of little experience, as is the case of Scott Baker (9-9, 4,26 of effectiveness), Boof Bonser (8-12, 5,10) and Kevin Slowey (4-1, 4.73). The veteran of the group is the right-handed Livan Hernandez (11-11 and 4,93 of effectiveness with Arizona). The bullpen Joe Nathan has a record of 4-2, 1,88 and 37 rescues.

As Nathan is in his last year of contract it would not be a surprise the Twins decide to end his services. Pat Neshek (7-2, 2,94) and Matt Guerrier (2-4, 2,35) rounded their group of collaborators; they expect that the Venezuelan Juan Rincon to light up after a year in which his effectiveness rose to 5,13 with regardless of the 2,91 of the previous year.

The Twins did not only lose pitchers, but also their central gardener Torii Hunter, who signed as a free agent with Los Angeles Angels. But in the exchange they got a player that could be very helpful in the long run left gardener Delmon Young (.288, 13 home runs and 93 races).

Additionally, if receiver Joe Mauer (.293, 7, 60 in 109 games) manages to avoid wounds and Justin Morneau (.271, 31, 111) avoids the decrease of his numbers then they would be able to surpass the 718 races from last year.