Monday, January 14, 2008
I thought I'd do a mailbox posting today. I have received several questions over the past week and thought now would be a good time to answer them. As always, you are welcome to e-mail me a question or two and I will try my best to respond in a timely manner via e-mail. But sometimes, I answer the questions on the site. Let's get to the questions:
Hello, I was wondering if you think the Twins should look at signing Livan Hernandez to be a veteran starter for a young staff if Santana is finally traded. For what I saw in the latest Santana rumor to the Mets none of the pitchers would be much of an impact to the rotation. What would the Twins lose as compensation for signing Hernandez since he is a type b free agent? And most of all is that the main reason why he would not be signed that the Twins would lose a draft pick?
I am sure many of you read this question and your first response is to kind of get a queasy sensation in your stomach. But I really didn't. I know that it isn't cool to want to sign Livan, but there are several factors that make him at least worth looking at. First, he is one of very few pitchers in baseball for whom the term "innings eater" is truly appropriate. Starting back in 1994, here are his annual innings pitched totals; 234 1/3, 197 2/3, 240, 226 2/3, 216, 233 1/3, 255, 246 1/3, 216, 204 1/3. He is also listed at 32 years old, so a 2-3 year contract would not be out of the realm of possibility. To jump into the latter part of your question, the Twins would not lose a draft pick by signing a Type B free agent, so that is not an issue.
However, there are more reasons that I don't think that the Twins should try to sign him. He is listed at 32 years old. I don't know many actually believe that he is 32 years old. Secondly, he has eaten a lot of innings, and that is kind of scary from the thought that he is almost due to get hurt. Third, he has not been very good the last two years. In 2006, he played for two teams and went 13-13 with a 4.83 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. Last season, he went 11-11 with a 4.93 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. Those WHIPs are alarming, and in the Metrodome and in the American League it is likely that the ERA and WHIP will go up even more. Hernandez made $7 million in 2007 and although I don't expect him to make that, I would think that some team will offer him a 2 year, $10-12 million contract. But the main reason that I don't think that the Twins should sign Hernandez is because they just don't need him, specifically at that price. Now, I am not in any way putting Hernandez in the same class as Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz, so please don't take it that way. However, I do believe that the Twins need to start to trust their young pitchers. They have probably seven or eight guys who will realistically be challenging for a spot in the rotation regardless of the Johan Santana situation. But at some time, they need to trust those pitchers to perform.
To summarize, I don't think signing Hernandez would be horrible. However, he would not be worth the amount of money he is likely to get, especially in the AL, and the Twins need to trust their young starters now and build with them and let them take some bumps.
What do you think of this idea for the 2008 Twins rotation, assuming Santana is back.
Until the All-Star Break:
5. Boof Bonser for up to 5 innings. Liriano then relieves Bonser for up to 3 innings. If Bonser lasts through the fifth Liriano starts the 6th inning automatically. Otherwise, Liriano comes into the game to relief Bonser.
The concept of this is to give Liriano a chance to pitch ever 5th game, build up his arm strength, and not be overworked. If the experiment goes well then Liriano moves to #2 in the rotation.
Secondly, this limits Bonser's innings and hopefully moves his conditioning along. If Bonser pitches well he can replace any of the other three non-Santanas in the rotation. If the Bonser performance is mediocre then Bonser and the pitcher Liriano replaces in the lineup can be the 5th and "6th" starter.
Third, if Bonser flops then the fifth starter would be a non-Santana.
Fourth, if something happens to Liriano, at least this approach guarantees that it was not cause by overusing him too early.
Fifth, using Liriano in the "Sixth" starter role will increase the chances of winning that fifth starter game.
Again, my first reaction was to not really like the idea for a couple of reasons, but I do think that the question is valid for many reasons even though this situation has never really played itself out. My first thought was that Boof Bonser showed enough last year at times to warrant a chance at a rotation spot to start the 2006 season. If he has done as the Twins asked and lost 25 or more pounds, he clearly put the effort out to earn the opportunity to see what he can do for several starts in his new body. Secondly, the primary goal of the weight loss was for Bonser to be able to pitch further into games. It would be unfair for them to hinder that opportunity with this system.
Secondly, everything I have read says that Liriano will be ready to go full-speed at spring training. If that is the case, the easiest way to monitor his innings and keep him on a consistent routine is to have him in the starting rotation. I know this may actually go against the Twins thinking, but I think he should start out starting rather than pitch under the uncertainty and inconsistent innings of the bullpen. Personally, I think that Glen Perkins should just stay in the bullpen as he can be dominant there and I personally prefer Brian Duensing as a starter at this point.
That said, I do think that the Twins should be very cautious with the number of innings and pitches that Liriano throws, especially early in the season, but really throughout the entire season. That arm is just too valuable, something we all really agree upon.
Also, sometimes a little outside-the-box thinking is a good thing, and that is the main reason that I do want to post this question. I would love to hear the comments of others on this idea.
A Couple More Notes
TopProspectAlert.com has now posted their Top 10 Twins Prospect list. It is a list that I frequently disagree with.
The Community Prospect ranking continues over at Twinkie Town. As of Sunday night, we have voted on the Twins Top 5 prospects. They have been #1 Anthony Swarzak, #2 Tyler Robertson, #3 Trevor Plouffe, #4 Ben Revere and #5 Jeff Manship. The vote for #6 is up and running at this time and when a sufficient number of votes are cast to make a call, we will then move to prospect #7. It is fun and the discussion is great, so be sure to check it out and vote.
The Twins Winter Caravan gets underway today with the Southwest and West Tours. Michael Cuddyer and Mike Redmond will be on the West Tour which should be plenty comical. Friend of SethSpeaks, Pat Neshek will get to travel with his manager Ron Gardenhire and Joe Vavra, the hitting coach, to the southwest. If you get a chance to attend the events anywhere, be sure to let us know what you thought of it.
Former Twins pitching Seth Greisinger is pitching for the Yomiuri Giants this year.
The Scott Rolen for Troy Glaus trade is interesting in the fact that if it had been made two or three years ago, people might have cared. As it is, this is really just a minor trade.
And finally, just have some fun and try not to get too addicted!