Not Livan Hernandez

As the Tigers continue to look for a veteran starting pitcher, it was probably inevitable that speculation about former 1997 Florida Marlin Livan Hernandez would arise. Dave Dombrowski has a penchant for the familiar, and Jim Leyland seems to have a considerable say in roster construction, and Hernandez is an older NL player. Throw in a glaring Tigers need and this was bound to happen. But it shouldn’t and I get the feeling this could be Jose Mesa the sequel.

What Hernandez has going for him is that he’s a workhorse. He’s amassed over 200 innings every year since 1998 except for once, when he only got to 199 2/3. And for a time he was effective. From 2003 to 2005 he was a pretty good pitcher. But he’s turned in an ERA+ south of 100 9 times while being above average only 5 times. And that was when he was a younger pup.

He’s coming off an age 32 season in which he only struck out 3.96 batters per 9 innings and walked 3.48. He allowed 34 homers last year. Granted, Arizona is an easier place to hit homers with a park factor of 115 (15% easier to hit homers there than an average park), but the other numbers don’t paint a pretty picture. His FIP last year was a replacement level-esque 5.73. And if you’re wondering about the defense behind him, his fielders were a hair better than average last year. Using PMR, they converted 6 more balls in play into outs than would be expected.

Even if Hernandez were to benefit from a less homer friendly park, that benefit would be far surpassed by the hit he’d take for moving leagues and for his continued aging.

I understand the desire for a solid starting pitcher, but Hernandez doesn’t represent that. That the Tigers continue to focus on aging veteran players from the weaker league is a concern, and this is yet another instance. If the Tigers are looking for this type of production, and are looking to save money, just hand the ball to Jordan Tata or Virgil Vasquez or Yorman Bazardo who I am confident could post an ERA north of 5 just as easily as Hernandez could. And those guys make the league minimum. If you’re going to balk at paying $10-12 million for a league average pitcher, then $7 million for performance that could be had for free should surely make you shudder.


  1. Kathy

    November 16, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Scary to think of him in AL.

  2. Jim

    November 16, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Basically, just imagine Jose Mesa out there for 6 innnings. OUCH. Although I will admit I got a kick out of watching Livan 58mph curve ball (if you can call it that) HA

    Give me Bazardo over him.

  3. Scott

    November 16, 2007 at 8:46 am

    I totally agree with you on this one, Billfer. If the Tigers can’t sign Rogers, I would prefer they go with one of the kids. The rest of the free agent market for starting pitchers stinks. You can go with one of the kids and then pick somebody up at the trade deadline if need be.

    It’s about time the Tigers find out what they really have with some of these young guys anyway. Personally, I’d like to see Zach Miner get a shot. I think he has good stuff …. kind of reminds of Derek Lowe.

  4. Jim

    November 16, 2007 at 8:48 am

    btw, Bonds is screwed!

  5. charlie

    November 16, 2007 at 10:06 am

    i haven’t heard one word about chad durbin this off season. he was a pretty capable number 4-5 guy on most nights last year.

  6. thefume

    November 16, 2007 at 10:11 am

    For $7 million Livan makes no sense. For $3 million he does. If Livan gets $7 million that is all the reason you need to stay away from pitchers in this free agent market.

  7. Mark L

    November 16, 2007 at 10:12 am

    I like Durbin too. The question is, is he better as a starter or reliever? Either way, I’d like to see him get some innings.
    If nobody else steps up as a starter, he may be forced into that role. So we can improve our bullpen by finding someone else for a starting role and letting Durbin become our second righty set-up man.

  8. greg

    November 16, 2007 at 10:38 am

    If the Tigers are looking for this type of production, and are looking to save money, just hand the ball to Jordan Tata or Virgil Vasquez or Yorman Bazardo who I am confident could post an ERA north of 5 just as easily as Hernandez could.

    Well said. Bravo!

  9. Ryan

    November 16, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Complete agreement. Can anyone honestly say for sure that Livan is a better option to start 30 games than Jason Grilli? I think Grilli could have similar numbers to the 6 plus ERA Livan would put up in the AL. I think it is very possible that Miner, Bazardo, Durbin, and Tata are all better options in-house.
    Quick note – Last year should probably be referred to as his “age 32” season; I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that he’s closer to 40.

  10. Ryan S

    November 16, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Yeah, this would be kind of crazy. If we can’t find someone better than league average, then let’s just put it up for grabs between Durbin, Miner, Tata, Bazardo and Vasquez.

  11. Vince in MN

    November 16, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Hopefully this is just a ruse to get Rogers back to the table.

  12. Mark in Chicago

    November 16, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Never hurts to kick the tires, but Livan would seem to have four flats at this point in his career. There are plenty of more cost-effective options available.

  13. Don

    November 16, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Jim: “Basically, just imagine Jose Mesa for 6 innings”
    Host: “Judges??”

    I guess it could be worse than getting him on a one year contract. But if you assume even good-ish numbers out of livan (200 innings, 5.00 era), think about what we’d get out of some combination of durbin/miner/tata/vazquez/bazardo – those guys get us 200 innings of 5.00? probably close, and even say we get 200 innings of 5.50 from them – that’s half a run per nine innings, which is 11 runs over the course of the year. That’s one win with those assumptions, which is probably worth giving livan 4-5 mil. But those assumptions may be wrong, and even if not, there’s some value in seeing if vazquez/tata/bazardo are worth keeping.

  14. Don

    November 16, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Plus if we signed him, every time he pitched I’d get that stupid elton john song stuck in my head:

    Livan wears his war wound like a crown
    He calls his child Jesus
    `Cause he likes the name
    And he sends him to the finest school in town

    Livan, Livan likes his money
    He makes a lot they say
    Spend his days counting
    In a garage by the motorway

    He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day
    When the New York Times said God is dead
    And the war’s begun
    Alvin Tostig has a son today

    And he shall be Livan
    And he shall be a good man
    And he shall be Livan
    In tradition with the family plan
    And he shall be Livan
    And he shall be a good man
    He shall be Livan

    Livan sells cartoon balloons in town
    His family business thrives
    Jesus blows up balloons all day
    Sits on the porch swing watching them fly

    And Jesus, he wants to go to Venus
    Leaving Livan far behind
    Take a balloon and go sailing
    While Livan, Livan slowly dies

  15. Mark in Chicago

    November 16, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    I wouldn’t mind seeing them sign a veteran starter, since relying on some combo of Miner/Durbin/Bazardo means you thin out your bullpen and have to go find a reliever anyway.

    Just not Livan.

  16. Mark P.

    November 16, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    The thought of this signing makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

    Durbin did just fine in the 5th starter role last role. He had three bad games to start the season and had bad games when he was being jerked being starting and bullpen. He did fine when got settled into the 5th starter role. I agree with Bilfer that a cheap option is better.


  17. Ryan

    November 16, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Just heard on ESPN that Kenny just dumped Boras as his agent. Welcome back Kenny, no Livan, yay.

  18. greg

    November 16, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Interesting, not a good week for Boras, at least in terms of his rep. Another report in a New York Paper(forget which one) stated that AROD was so fed up with Boras, that at one point, he even considered sueing him because Boras ‘forced’ him into things he wasn’t comfortable with in the whole ‘opt-out’ fiasco.

  19. Jim

    November 16, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I like kenny even more now, good for him!

  20. Don

    November 16, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    I always pictured the arod-boras relationship to be very similar to the relationship on south park between satan (arod) and saddam hussein (boras).

  21. Vince in MN

    November 16, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    With the thought of that $350 ml payday, Mr. Bora$ maybe got a little greedy and overplayed his hand? Now with Rogers giving him the boot it will be interesting to see if any more of his clients jump ship.

  22. Mike R

    November 16, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I get that there’s speculation but, if the Tigers have contacted him I think it’s just part of kicking the tires — all the tires — available. I’d be stunned if they signed Livan. I just don’t see it happening. It’s not like Dave Dombrowski is Bill Bavasi or Kenny Williams or something. He deserves a slight more benefit of the doubt.

  23. Steve in Kzoo

    November 16, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    I believe this dumping of Boras by Rogers is because Rogers thinks of the Tigers as a team for contention, integrity, chemistry, and Honesty. The offers the Tigers gave to Rogers were very generious and Boras of course was just trying to squeeze every cent out of a club so he himself can also get a great payday. Rogers with firing Boras almost asures Detroit will resign the 43 year old Lefty. He is truely now a man of integrity and He absolutely needs to be resigned. Ill even give him that 10 million base salary with 1 million+ incentives just because he is a leader in the rotation and because Boras is gone LOL. Great job Kenny you know where your heart is IN DETROIT!!!

  24. billfer

    November 16, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Mike R –

    It very well may be due diligence, or a negotiating tactic. But it also fits with a Leyland/Dombrowski pattern. DD is a great GM, but we also had the Neifi Perez and Jose Mesa situations.

  25. PHT in HK

    November 16, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Billfer – Interesting that you state that DD is a great GM and then highlight 2 of his most questionable moves. I would rate him good to very good at his job, not great. Great wins the World Series in the first couple of years on the job.

  26. Joey the K

    November 16, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Kenny signs in the next week, before Thanksgiving.

  27. Vince in MN

    November 16, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    I am sure DD and Leyland are putting their heads together right now, and may be seriously considering Jeff Conine, Cliff Floyd and Antonio Alfonseca from that ’97 Marlins team who are all still available free agents. We’d have to give up something to get Greg Zaun and Mark Kotsay. Felix Heredia has been out of MLB for a couple of years, but he is left-handed relief specialist and you never have enough of those.

  28. Stephen

    November 17, 2007 at 12:49 am

    I don’t think we should sign Hernandez, but seriously, thinking we’d be better off with Chad Durbin?? He of the career 5.75 ERA? Or Grilli, he of 98% of Tiger Nation wanted him released in August? That’s just crazy talk.

  29. Mark L

    November 17, 2007 at 2:00 am

    Didn’t they try out Heredia in spring training last year? I seem to remember him being one of the LOOGY possibilities.
    Thanks Vince, for the rundown of currently active 97 Marlins. Good to get a peek at who we could be seeing soon.
    I personally thought Durbin did pretty well considering what was asked of him last year, all the back-and-forth between starting and relief, he held up pretty well. He should do better with a consistent role and “stretched” to handle more than five innings

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  31. Jim

    November 17, 2007 at 8:34 am

    Heredia was one of the invitees to spring training last year I do believe.

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  33. Vince in MN

    November 17, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Mark L – I believe you ae correct re:Heredia. Non-roster invitee wasn’t it? And he washed out and didn’t even pitch in the minors last year. But like I said earlier, if you are left-handed and can carry your pitching arm to the park in an ice-bucket you have a shot at a job.

  34. Mike R

    November 19, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    I don’t think we should sign Hernandez, but seriously, thinking we’d be better off with Chad Durbin?? He of the career 5.75 ERA? Or Grilli, he of 98% of Tiger Nation wanted him released in August? That’s just crazy talk.

    Well, we all wanted Grilli released way sooner then August. From August onward, he was actually very good.

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