Thor Nystrom

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Frankie's Fun Park

Thursday, July 19, 2012

He's like the girl with all the world's potential who got away. He's the symbol for all aspirations in your life you never achieved because of forces outside your control. He's your grass-sucking genius buddy that threw away a six-figure job to work at an American Inn because he'd prefer to smoke and watch Christopher Nolan movies all day (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

Francisco Liriano embodies every failed-opportunity metaphor one could conceive of in a lifetime. And yet, he's a paragon of determination. Arguably baseball's most dominant pitcher as a rookie in 2006, Liriano shredded his elbow, missed 2007, remade himself during a rocky 2008 campaign (much of which was spent at Triple-A), went 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA in 2009, won AL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2010, hurled a no-hitter in 2011 (despite ending with an ERA over 5.00) and has gone from sub-replacement level in 2012 over the season's first month-and-a-half to one of the league's most sought-after trade targets. One day he looks like a Cy Young contender. In his next outing, he could resemble a left-handed Sidney Ponson. Life is like a box of chocolates. Or something like that.

People who aren't understood become the victims of transference. Humans are wired to believe they are omniscient. When confronted by a conundrum, they excrete metaphors, similes and allusions until they convince themselves they aren't confused.

This is why psychiatry is a profession. This is why there is an idiom called psychobabble.

Francisco Liriano, perhaps the most frustrating talent in baseball today, struck out 10 over six innings against the Orioles Wednesday. He gave up two runs on just four hits. Banished to the bullpen in May, Liriano has posted a 2.84 ERA and 77/28 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings since returning to the rotation on the 30th of that month. He's whiffed 25 batters over his last two outings.

Minnesota fans, the Twins' organization, fantasy owners, the author of this column, Francisco Liriano and Francisco Liriano's family have no idea which Francisco Liriano is going to toe the rubber during any given start.

We do know two things, however: 1) Liriano is likely to get dealt for a few promising prospects within the next two weeks. 2) He's a must-start fantasy pitcher at this point, even though there's a chance that he'll detonate your pitching stats with a six-walk, seven-earned-run outing next time out.

“When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be,” Terry Ryan told Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos yesterday.

Jon Heyman reported that Ryan has been reading a lot of Goethe recently. That joke will make a lot more sense in Section Three, ESPN's Buster Olney writes.


Red Sox Lose Big Papi for the rest of July

The Red Sox placed David Ortiz on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a right Achilles injury.

Ortiz suffered the injury while rounding the bases on a three-run homer by Adrian Gonzalez in Monday's win over the White Sox. Fortunately, he didn't suffer a tear or rupture, which might have ended the veteran slugger's season. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Ortiz would miss "a week to 10 days," but his placement on the D.L. means that Big Papi will be out until August 1 -- at least.

Mauro Gomez replaced Ortiz on Boston's roster. Expect Daniel Nava to gobble up most available DH at-bats until the calendar turns.


Extra! Extra!

You are the type of person that reads The Superficial. You watch TMZ after midnight in your underwear while eating a PB&J to sober yourself up. You speculate with co-workers as to who Tom Cruise's next beard will be -- I meant girlfriend! Wife! You are legitimately concerned with whether or not Kristen Stewart's breasts are natural. It's important that you know who People thinks Scarlett Johansson is or isn't sleeping with at all times.

None of this is because you are a voyeur. No sir. You aren't a housewife who gets her jollies from reading Star. You would never pick that up at the checkout counter.

What you actually crave is trade rumors, the act of pulling back the curtains of Major League Baseball and speculating on news before it becomes news. Perception is reality. Rumors are an invitation. Jon Heyman knows this. So does Ken Rosenthal and J.P. Morosi and Buster Olney.

Because the hot stove is getting muggy, let's pull these Quick Hits out of the sections below and let them breath a bit, shall we? It's the first step toward Harvey Levin buying Rotoworld and re-proportioning it into a sports news site of the future: MMZ. You see, TMZ stands for Thirty Mile Zone, a radius around Hollywood where most celebrities live. Soon, distance will not constrict personal access to our athletes. This is the utopia represented by Heyman's Twitter feed.

  • ESPN's Olney believes it's likely that the Diamondbacks will wait until the offseason to trade Justin Upton (Harvey Levin cackles).


  • According to CBS Sports' Heyman, the Phillies plan to make Cole Hamels an initial extension offer of about six years and $130 million (Harvey Levin raises an eyebrow mysteriously).


  • Heyman also writes that the Marlins could trade Anibal Sanchez and the Blue Jays "want to deal" Yunel Escobar (Harvey Levin throws his hands up in exasperation, as if to say: "This Heyman guy only needs to pass on rumors past the embryonic stage!").


  • According to Morosi of FOX Sports, the Tigers, White Sox and Orioles have spoken to the Padres about the availability of left-hander Clayton Richard (Harvey Levin mumbles something under his breath).


  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports passes along that the Red Sox are gauging league-wide trade interest in Carl Crawford (Harvey Levin nods head smugly).


  • The Fox Sports duo tag-teamed a story that let us know that the Brewers and Zack Greinke aren't talking much about a contract extension (Harvey Levin says: "Trade him back to the Royals! Those fans hate Robbie Cano! They love Greinke! It makes sense! Right? Am I right?").


  • The Mets are targeting Athletics' reliever Grant Balfour, says David Lennon of New York Newsday (Harvey Levin rolls his eyes).


  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sport believes the Angels would offer up Peter Bourjos for "the right reliever" (Harvey Levin launches into an expletive-laced diatribe toward L.A. management).


  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports passes along that the Red Sox are gauging league-wide trade interest in Carl Crawford (Harvey Levin nods head smugly).


  • Scott Miller and Danny Knobler of report, respectively, that San Diego will not trade Carlos Quentin and the Rangers might ponder a deal for Cliff Lee (Harvey Levin murmurs "Hmmmm...")


  • Nate Schierholtz wants to be traded if it's to a team that would offer him more playing time (Harvey Levin fires staffer who proposes this story on the spot).


National League Quick Hits: The Marlins don't expect Juan Carlos Oviedo to pitch this season after the Artist Formerly Known as Leo Nunez was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow over the weekend ... Brewers manager Ron Roenicke expects Ryan Braun (groin) to return to the starting lineup for Friday's series opener against the Reds ... Jordan Zimmerman hurled six scoreless innings, allowing four hits while striking out four in a win over the Mets ... Ian Kennedy tossed eight innings of one-run ball in the Diamondbacks' victory over the Reds ... Jason Kubel propelled the offense in the same contest by smacking two homers ... Jayson Werth (wrist) is expected to begin a rehab assignment Thursday ... Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee each tossed eight innings of one-run ball in LA's 5-3 victory ... Lance Berkman told reporters Wednesday that he doesn't have "any bat speed"; bench him in normal mixed leagues at the moment ... Jeremy Guthrie got shelled -- yeah, you're right; this isn't news.. Francisco Rodriguez gave up a run in the ninth but picked up a save against the Cardinals despite pitching for the fourth straight day ... The Diamondbacks optioned Trevor Bauer to Triple-A after the 21-year-old right-hander yielded 14 hits, 13 walks and 11 earned runs over his first 16 1/3 innings of big-league action ... Zack Greinke will return to the Brewers' starting rotation on Tuesday against the Phillies ... Drew Storen (elbow) could be activated Thursday, but the 24-year-old right-hander will initially return as Tyler Clippard's setup man ... Jeff Samardzija spun six frames of one-run ball against the Marlins and is now 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA and 24/6 K/BB ratio over 19 innings in three July starts ... Santiago Casilla blew his fifth save in nine chances, but lucked into a win against the Braves -- his seat is hot enough to burn skin at this point.

American League Quick Hits: Brett Lawrie suffered a right calf contusion Wednesday when he fell into the third-base camera well while trying to track down a foul ball; he hopes to return to the lineup Friday ... Anthony Gose made his first career start, batting leadoff Wednesday against the Yankees and going 0-for-3 in a rain-shortened loss ... Ted Lilly (shoulder) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday ... Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday; he hopes to rejoin the A's rotation without a rehab assignment ... Cody Ross (.269/.345/.557) smoked a pair of three-run homers in a rout over the White Sox ... Doug Fister punched out 10 while tossing eight innings of one-run ball on two hits in a win over the Angels ... Jordan Walden (biceps) has yet to resume throwing but still might return before the end of July ... Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Matt Capps (shoulder) will be shut down "for a while," meaning that the veteran closer is no longer a trade candidate ... Colby Lewis was removed from Wednesday's start after five innings when his forearm tightened up on him; he shouldn't miss a start ... Hiroki Kuroda earned his first shutout since 2008 when he pitched seven scoreless innings in the Yankees' rain-shortened win over the Blue Jays ... In a spot start in the place of Jason Hammel, Tommy Hunter gave up just one run in 7 1/3 innings to the Twins; it dropped his ERA from 6.11 to 5.71 and he needn't be owned in any format ... Dustin Pedroia (thumb) will likely be activated from the disabled list Thursday ... Billy Butler, now hitting .300/.371/.502 with 18 homers and 56 RBI, spanked a walkoff home run into the Kansas City night to push the Royals to a victory over the Mariners.

Thor Nystrom is a Rotoworld contributor on the MLB and NFL Draft sections. Follow him on Twitter @thorku.
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