Thursday, July 31, 2008

Livan's Swan Song?

Livan Hernandez is doing his best to help make Ron Gardenhire's decision on how to make room in the Twins rotation for Francisco Liriano an easy one. Last night, for a second consecutive outing, Hernandez put the Twins in a deep early hole by surrendering five runs in the first few innings. Unlike his last start against the Indians, Hernandez didn't last to see the Twins make a competitive game out of last night's affair, as he exited after four innings and the game eventually deteriorated into an 8-3 laugher.

Had the Twins scored a few runs against Gavin Floyd, one might have tried to argue that Hernandez "kept the Twins in the game," but with the offense's punchless performance, there's no way to look at Hernandez's outing as anything other than it truly was: an awful performance. And such outings haven't been particularly rare for him this season.

In just four innings last night, Hernandez allowed 11 base-runners (one of which, in fairness, was an intentional walk). He surrendered nine hits, raising his opponents' batting average to .341 for the season, and was uncharacteristically inefficient with his pitch count, needing 80 pitches to get through four frames. The poor outing came in a game that the Twin really would have liked to win against a contending divisional rival, and also came in the aftermath of a brilliant start by one young starter and a solid start by another one. In other words, there is little excusing last night's pitiful performance from Hernandez, a veteran who should be expected to come through for the Twins on nights like this. Instead of giving the team a legitimate chance to win and move into first place, Hernandez turned in his shortest outing since June 12 and suffered his team-leading eighth loss. The Twins will now have to count on Scott Baker to help them win tonight's finale, and in doing so avoid making no progress against the division leaders in this series despite having won the first two games in exciting fashion.

The trade deadline falls at 3 p.m. this afternoon. As I've stated before, I don't expect the Twins to make any type of significant move to bring in outside talent, and that's alright with me. In my mind, the most important trade the Twins can make right now is swapping the utterly hittable Hernandez out of the rotation in favor of Liriano.

12 comments:

Corey E. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AB said...

Can we trade Livan for a washing machine, "Semi-Pro" style?

Nick M. said...

Seems that might be all we could get for him at this point. Maybe I went in a daze, but how did I briefly forget this guy has given up 199 hits in 139 2/3 innings? Thats 34 more than the next worst in the AL, former Twin Carlos Silva. (In the NL, Aaron Cook has given up 166, 33 less, but has been effective with a very good sinker)

So, I'm not sure how much a BP pitcher is worth these days, but its not what remains of that $5 million contract. I doubt any contender would want to take him off our hands, consider how basically each one has had their shot to knock Hernandez around. Looks like this is another bad cheap veteran signing the Twins are going to have to swallow by sending him to the bullpen or eating the contract.

Anonymous said...

if farnsworth can be traded for pudge, maybe we can trade livan for david wright.

dan said...

im surprised mr tt hasnt showed up today in the comments section explaining how there is just no room right now for liriano

ca said...

Looks like this is another bad cheap veteran signing...

I hope this is the message the Twins take away from this situation, especially given the Ortiz signing last year. Relatively speaking, Hernandez isn't even really that cheap--he'll get at least $5 million this year, more than ten times(!) as much as any of the other starters, thus making the prospect of demoting/releasing him painful from a financial perspective. Who wants to eat $5M?

For whatever reason, the Twins seem to feel a need to start a season with a "veteran presence" on the staff to "eat innings." I'd be very interested in seeing evidence that having an overpaid veteran on the staff is advantageous. I have to think that the Twins could have gotten someone with a skill set similar to Hernandez' for a lot less than $5M. At the very least, if that kind of player struggled, he could be waived/demoted/relegated to the bullpen without much of a financial hit.

Nick M. said...

I would doubt there is any such evidence that overpaying a veteran to "mentor" a young staff has any real measurable benefit. Of course, the Twins have been doing this for longer than the Ortiz signing.

Sometimes, it has worked ok, but it has often blocked a young and prestigeous starter. Remember 2003? Kenny Rogers had a 4.57 ERA and blocked a young Johan Santana from emerging as the team's ace until 2004. Rogers wasn't Livan horrible and he was a cheap $2 million, but Santana would have been better in the rotation.

And if you go back further, you can find lots of other examples. Bob Tewksbury is an example from a longer time ago, brought into help out a young Brad Radke. Tewksbury posted solid numbers in 1997 (4.22 ERA, 110 ERA plus) before declining in his last year in the league.

Nick N. said...

Well, the deadline comes and goes without the Twins making a move.

When the biggest names on their radar are Rich Aurilia and Jose Castillo, that's probably for the best.

Anonymous said...

If the Twins make the play offs they might even give Livan the slowball for game one at Fenway.

All this dating with washed up veterans makes you wonder how much confidence the managers have in handling young pitchers and hitters themselves. (well, only at the bar Sidney Poison could show strike outs anyway) They handle the minors so good, what if they would have had a more Athletics-attitude at major league level over 2000-2008? Over the decade we will describe this era as babying Santana & crowning Hernandez.

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