It’s been years since Livan Hernandez has been a quality arm at the big league level but that didn’t stop the Washington Nationals from bringing him in for eight gruesome starts last season. It also hasn’t diminished the belief that he is a work horse even if much of his work is being left on the base paths for someone else.
I’m not a Nationals fan by any means and I’ve usually suggested that veterans can still be productive but it’s best for everybody if Livan Hernandez stays out of the clubhouse this year.
I’ll spare you the pastry jokes and say that the last time Hernandez was truly productive was back in 2005 when the Montreal Expos had just moved to Washington. Under the auora of a new team in the nationals capital Hernandez went 15-10 with a 3.98 ERA while pitching a league high 246.1 innings.
Hernandez got a reputation as a innings eater midway though his career which is probably a bit unfair since he was actually a pretty good starter during his time in San Fransisco and Montreal/Washington. Though since then he’s been nothing more then a guy you let pitch if you don’t care how many runs your team allows every fifth day.
Since the 2005 season Hernandez has made 129 starts and averaged 196 innings. He’s also compiled a 5.28 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP during that span. That he is somehow 46-47 during that time on teams that were less then contenders speaks volumes about how fickle wins and losses are in baseball.
Always hit around against throughout his career Hernandez has seen his strike out numbers fall off the board and his walk ratio climb over the last four seasons which combined with a increase in gopher balls is like pouring gasoline down your throat and then lighting a cigarette.
Of all the reunions of teams and recent players you would have had me on Livan Hernandez rejoining the Nationals. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN said the Nats were looking for a “Livan Hernandez type” as insurance for the rotation a few days ago. But this is for the best.
The two need to move on.
Already a big guy, Hernandez has grown wider and wider in recent years while Washington has amassed a number of arms capable of starting that they have questions about.
Since we know what Hernandez will bring to the table, 200 innings, mid-5 ERA and a lot of swearing from National fans, the team would be best to at least give someone else a shot.
I know Garret Mock (3-10, 5.62) Shairon Martis (5-3, 5.25) and Collin Balester (1-4, 6.82) aren’t exactly your ideal solution at the back end of a rotation that is already weak but at worst they approach what Livan Hernandez did in 8 starts with the Nationals last season. (2-4, 5.36) Of course there’s also Chuck James who missed all of 2009 following rotator cuff surgery in 2008.
The beauty of replacing Hernandez with the above options is unmistakable. It’s one rotation spot. If Mock struggles you hand it over to Martis and then Balester and so on down the line. Start with Balester and go the other way if you like. If neither proves worth a turn in the rotation call up Chuck James if he has success following a minor league stint. Call up any live arm for that matter, it doesn’t matter much because it all comes down to one thing.
That Livan Hernandez will be out of the equation would be enough to sell me on this.
Plus you won’t have to hear the question of when will you replace Hernandez from the media. You will save everyone from having to watch the Sport Center highlights of a man trying to hang on to something that hasn’t been there for years.
If you go with one of the options currently on the active roster or maybe even some guy bobbing around at Triple-A then there won’t be any talk of when they fail.
Of course that could also be negative because well this is the Nationals and if they aren’t on a losing skid with despicable playing habits then they aren’t relevant.
I guess ultimately it doesn’t matter if the Nationals sign another aging veteran to compete for the rotation or if they go with someone on the club. Not much will be expected out of the fifth stater either way. It’s just that by going with a younger guy the organization is still evaluating then they at-least get to see if they have something in any of them instead of putting the issue off until the home stretch of the year.
Oh the joy of being a 59 win team stuck in last place for two years in a row.