By Scott Barzilla

Kenny Williams made another puzzling move when he dealt infielder Eduardo Escobar and left-hander Pedro Hernandez to to the Twins for starter Francisco Liriano. The White Sox have long been questioned for the depth of their farm system and now he has made two deals surrendering five prospects. What’s more, I’m not exactly sure how he has gotten better.

Liriano presumably will move into the rotation and provide more depth, but I question whether the White Sox needed another starter to begin with. I suppose if they are expected to shut down Chris Sale is might make some sense, but there hasn’t been anything coming out of the White Sox camp as to whether that is what they plan to do. So, here is a list of what the White Sox have in the rotation and their performance as starters this season.

  • Jake Peavy: 140.0 INN, 3.15 ERA, 126/29 SO/BB
  • Chris Sale: 124.0 INN, 2.61 ERA, 114/31 SO/BB
  • Gavin Floyd: 109.0 INN, 4.46 ERA, 92/37 SO/BB
  • Philip Humber: 82.1 INN, 5.90 ERA, 70/34 SO/BB
  • Jose Quintana: 76.2 INN, 2.58 ERA, 44/14 SO/BB
  • John Danks: 53.2 INN, 5.70 ERA, 30/23 SO/BB
  • Francisco Liriano: 92.2 INN, 5.34 ERA, 100/48 SO/BB

With Jose Quintana off to a great start, the White Sox already had three front-line starters, but there was quite a bit of drop off from there. Gavin Floyd just returned from injury and he has been solid for the most part since his return. So, the White Sox could be said to be in the market for a fifth starter with both Phillip Humber and John Danks struggling (or hurt). Enter Francisco Liriano. Those are his numbers as a starting pitcher this year.

I suppose we can give Kenny Williams some credit for gambling. When you look at Liriano’s numbers, it is clear that he has the capability of performing like a front line starter. He’s done it in the past and once he came back from his stint in the bullpen, he’s done it more often, but even now he has had some starts where things just didn’t work. The month of July is a perfect microcosm of his career. He has starts where he has tallied 15 strikeouts and ten strikeouts interspersed with starts where he has surrendered seven runs and five runs. So, while he has 39 strikeouts in 28.2 innings, he also is 1-3 with an ERA over 5.00.

As for the Twins, they get a couple of useful pieces for a pitcher they likely weren’t going to bring back after the season. Pedro Hernandez has one start at the big league level, but has shown considerable promise this season at the minor league level. He is only 23 years 8-2 between AA and AAA with 85.2 innings pitched. His combined ERA for the season between those two levels was 2.94.

Escobar has spent the entire season on the 25 man roster in Chicago. It’s not like the White Sox are surrendering a lot here. He is also 23, but has an OPS under .600 and doesn’t even have 100 plate appearances yet. Whether the Twins keep him on their 25 man roster remains to be seen. Still, getting a capable starter like Hernandez makes this deal worthwhile. The Twins may go ahead and promote him to give him some valuable big league experience.

All in all, the White Sox do get another arm they may or may not get hot with a new team. The Twins get a useful arm and a fringe utility infield prospect. They may have gotten more had they waited for more suitors, but you can never know these days. Terry Ryan is definitely going with the bird in the bush theory of trading a player. That leaves Kenny Williams with two in a bush. For his sake, I sure hope Liriano performs better than he has recently.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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