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December 14, 2009

Zrebiec: What to do about Hernandez?

There was a ton of buzz about Orioles sophomore pitcher David Hernandez at the winter meetings as he was one of the players other teams asked about the most. The Rangers, for example, wanted Hernandez in the Kevin Millwood deal before both teams settled on reliever Chris Ray.

As a rookie, Hernandez went 4-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts) and kind of faded as the season went on. But the level of interest from other teams doesn’t surprise me because teams love big strikeout numbers and Hernandez has been among the league leaders in Ks pretty much everywhere he’s been before the majors. He’s also a big, strong kid with life on his fastball.

If the Orioles are going to keep him -- and it appears that way -- they’re going to need to make a decision on his role. Plenty of baseball people -- both inside and outside the organization -- think the 24-year-old would make a pretty effective seventh- or eighth-inning guy, and I concur. With youngsters Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz projected to be in a rotation that includes veterans Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie, and prospects Jake Arrieta, Brandon Erbe and Zach Britton on their way, it makes sense for the Orioles to make that decision sooner rather than later.

Whether Hernandez becomes a reliever or not (and I think he eventually will), there will be quite a battle to win jobs in the Orioles’ seven or eight-man Opening Day bullpen. I don’t know if there are any certainties for the group beyond Jim Johnson and Koji Uehara, assuming the latter is healthy. Even after they traded Chris Ray and nontendered Brian Bass, the Orioles’ 40-man is stocked with relievers -- Matt Albers, Alberto Castillo, Armando Gabino, Luis Lebron, Cla Meredith, Kam Mickolio, Wilfrido Perez and Dennis Sarfate. Several of those names could be roster casualties this offseason.

The Orioles will likely acquire a closer and a left-handed specialist. They’re still expected to bring back versatile reliever Mark Hendrickson. And a couple of the starters that don’t make the rotation, potentially Hernandez and Jason Berken, could be added to the bullpen mix as long men candidates. Pitchers and catchers won’t report to Sarasota, Fla., for another two months, but the battle for the bullpen spots could get pretty interesting.

- Jeff Zrebiec

Posted by Baltimore Sun sports at 6:32 AM | | Comments (47)
Categories: Just baseball
        

Comments

I agree Jeff, Hernandez would make an outstanding reliever. Going to the bullpen would allow him to kick his fastball up a couple notches and give the O's a real effective power arm in the bullpen. Which is something the O's have been missing for a couple years now.

Btw, thanks for keeping Pete's blog alive, he said you would contribute but I assumed that would be one or two posts over the next week. It is appreciated.

Peter/Jeff,

How hard would it be to start a campaign for Ray Rice for MVP?
Who is more important to their team?
Obviuosly, Manning, Brees, and Johnson, but Rice should be up there with them.

He has over 1000 rushing. If he gets just 150 more Recieving yards, he will be 1 of only 5 players in NFL HISTORY to get 1000 Rushing, 800 Recieving.

I think he should go to the bullpen until he gets his control down and refines his change up. He has a better fastball than Tillman and a major league slider. Tillman should also go to the pen for long relief, IMO.

I wouldn't put a tag on him just yet. I think the best five starters come north. Tillman, Matusz, Bergesen and Hernandez still have options left and none of them have even pitched a full season in AAA. They will have better trade value as starters, even if it's at AAA.

I agree.

Hernandez could be a great reliever. That being said, The Orioles pitching depth is starting to pile up in such a way that we have to think about future roster decisions before they happen. Once a DFA move is within sight, other teams recognize this, and aren't willing to deal anything of value for it. So are we coming toward an eventual position where we'll have to cut loose a pretty decent reliever in the Spring?

Jeff,
How many effective, quality pitches does Hernandez have at this point in his career?

I think you got to make Uehara a starter. His history is that he averages 6 or more innings when he starts. Bergesen also consistently pitches deep into the games he starts. 4 starting pitchers consistently giving you 6 or more will help the bullpen quite alot. But much can happen between now and opening Day.

Hello to my fellow posters,

I am all Andy Macphail'd out.

Most of the names for potential relievers that Zrebeic threw out haven't accomplised anything to speak of at the Major League level. I guess Jeff is inferring that there is safety in numbers regardless of the quality.

Since there are so many of you that have high hopes for the Orioles rebuilding plan, I don't want to spoil the fun with negative comments. I am going to take a hiatus from the blog until when and if it is clear to me that the Orioles intend to put a winning team on the field in 2010.

You are terrific fans and deserve more from Peter Angelos than it appears you are going to get next year.

Happy Holidays to all and I sincerely mean that.

You too Wayne. And Wayne, please do me a favor if you have it in you. Please stop referring to the fans as "losers" Do that for me.

Gil

Pete,

I thought the purpose of stripping this team down to the bare bones two years ago was to make it so nobody was guaranteed anything. Starting is a priviledge, not a right. With the exception of Millwood and maybe Guthrie, nobody on this 64-98 team should be guaranteed a start. With this record, I reject the idea that there should be 5 set in stone starters. Every other pitcher should be a presumed member of the bullpen unless they show the can pitch well enough, against ML hitters, long enough, to be worthy of starting status.
Instead of taking the approach that some pitchers are starters and some are relievers, and making assignment decisions on that basis, I say the O's take the approach the Yankees took with Joba Chamberlain. Let Hernandez work out of the bullpen, if he pitches well, let him take a crack in the starting rotation.

with the orioles wanting a big bat and players to fill the first and third base slots,then trade david hernandez to get that person to fill one of those possitions.you have to give to get when we want things.

How do you explain Mc Phail's interest in Eric Bedard or another "health risk" is the rotation and bull pen is so full. He has 3 top prospects from whom I presume they want to get a full season, 3 more in the pipeline, plus a large contingent of excess young second line talent. How do they plan to manage all this and achieve their objectives of a first class rotation?

How do you explain Mc Phail's interest in Eric Bedard or another "health risk" is the rotation and bull pen is so full. He has 3 top prospects from whom I presume they want to get a full season, 3 more in the pipeline, plus a large contingent of excess young second line talent. How do they plan to manage all this and achieve their objectives of a first class rotation?

Jim says:
How do you explain Mc Phail's interest in Eric Bedard or another "health risk" is the rotation and bull pen is so full. He has 3 top prospects from whom I presume they want to get a full season, 3 more in the pipeline, plus a large contingent of excess young second line talent. How do they plan to manage all this and achieve their objectives of a first class rotation?

Answer:
Easy. First depth, especially at pitching, is never a bad thing. Look at how many years the Yankees had 6-7 legit starters when they won all those world series in a row. Making guys earn a promotion instills the right kind of team attitude, breads competition, and makes them work on all the little stuff to get better. Second, I don't think that much of a glut is going to stay. A lot of that could be resolved in making a trade for 3B or 1B, or heck maybe even a REAL #1 starter.

Hernandez is a thrower, not a pitcher. Need him in the 7-8th when teams are worn down to throw 95 mph fastballs by them. He wastes too many pitches, perfect for the BP.


I am so tired of hearing about the bad players the Orioles are thinking about each year……….


Anybody ever think about where the Orioles revenue sharing goes? With revenue sharing teams like the Twins, Marlins etc can compete with anybody. Baltimore is not a small market and gets not only the revenue sharing it makes money off a lucrative deal with local cable companys with MASN. So what is PA doing with money that should be helping the product on the field? Maybe using it to take money away from large corporations like he has in the past? The Orioles are just like his law firm except they take money away from blue and white collar people and just keep it. PA is a modern day Robin Hood but using everyone’s money to build a giant gold tomb to die in.

*snore*

Just going to put this out there:

You don't really help someone's trade value if you say things like "he's good, but we want to deal him." If everyone knows you have no plans for the guy, they're going to value him less in negotiations.

That's why guys who run their mouth about wanting to get traded end up causing their team to get nothing in return (i.e. Brandon Marshall, TO, etc.). In this case the market for a 4/5 MLB starter is higher than that of a guy about to get squeezed from the bullpen to AAA.

At any rate, what's said externally doesn't have any bearing on what's said internally. So it may all be a moot point to worry about where he'll be pitching in this organization still.

MASN isn't making money... they play the same 3 commercials (that Amstel commercial with the old man... uhg...) over and over, mixed in with Oriole ads.

So if MASN isn't making money, it isn't exactly "lucrative". Just like comcast SportsNet and HTS. Unless you are NESN or YES, you simply won't make that much. NESN covers a 4 sport town and YES covers, well, the Yankees.

PA hemorrhaged money in the 90's and look what it got him. He did what the fans wanted. He did the same thing '04-'05 at the fans behest, and look what it got him. They had a few lousy GM's and Pat "The Locust" Gillick that took them nowhere.

like you said... here soon pitching is going to be a logjam so why dont we try and get a big bat corner infielder for hernandez, erbe and britton or someone...

We do need a big bat in the heart of this lineup and if someone would offer say Adrian Gonzalez or another player of his caliber, I think Andy would include Hernandez in a deal. That being said, Hernandez started very strong and was probably there 2nd best starter in June and July after Bergesen. He has a power arm and I think he projects as an above average set up man in a year or so. That is why the O's sent Ray to Texas and not Hernandez. They think they have a piece to the puzzle down the road and were not ready to part with him for a 1 year guy. We can't just throw prospects like him away. Many teams like San Diego are looking to get younger and if the O's would offer Brandon Snyder and Hernandez for Adrian Gonzalez I think that trade would make sense for the O's. Yes you give up prospects but you get the second hardest thing to acquire; a big bat to plug into the 4 hole that can absolutley rake. The hardest thing to acquire is a true #1 and I think if they sign Bedard even though he is an injury risk,( he is the closest thing not named Lackey available) you show the fans you truly are ready to compete with the Yankees. Notice I said Yankees and not Red Sox and Yankees. The Sox are just wannabees that get a lot of attention thanks to ESPN. Get Bedard and get a big bat not some second rate Joker like Branyan who is a 1 year wonder.

We do need a big bat in the heart of this lineup and if someone would offer say Adrian Gonzalez or another player of his caliber, I think Andy would include Hernandez in a deal. That being said, Hernandez started very strong and was probably there 2nd best starter in June and July after Bergesen. He has a power arm and I think he projects as an above average set up man in a year or so. That is why the O's sent Ray to Texas and not Hernandez. They think they have a piece to the puzzle down the road and were not ready to part with him for a 1 year guy. We can't just throw prospects like him away. Many teams like San Diego are looking to get younger and if the O's would offer Brandon Snyder and Hernandez for Adrian Gonzalez I think that trade would make sense for the O's. Yes you give up prospects but you get the second hardest thing to acquire; a big bat to plug into the 4 hole that can absolutley rake. The hardest thing to acquire is a true #1 and I think if they sign Bedard even though he is an injury risk,( he is the closest thing not named Lackey available) you show the fans you truly are ready to compete with the Yankees. Notice I said Yankees and not Red Sox and Yankees. The Sox are just wannabees that get a lot of attention thanks to ESPN. Get Bedard and get a big bat not some second rate Joker like Branyan who is a 1 year wonder.

Dear Shamrock,
PA DID NOT do what the intelligent fan wanted. What he did was fill the dugout with names he recognized from his son's rotisserie league stat sheets, not ballplayers. He vetoed trades, ran off more than his share of good baseball people, and squandered any good will he earned by salvaging the team from the bancrupt Mr. Jacobs. Obviously he's still making money, or he would have sold by now; but there is no way he wouldn't be laughing all the way to the bank had he kept his eye on running the team for the long haul and not a payday.

Hey Zrebiec,

Whatever happened to Troy Patton ? You didn't mention him as an upcoming pitcher. Is he still in the farm system ?

rick -

Unfortunately, an owner's idea of "running the team" is making money. If anything, Peter Angelos did too much meddling when it came to running the team.

Anonymous -

The Red Sox have won the World Series twice since 2004. They've finished over .500 for 12 consecutive seasons and, in that span, made the playoffs eight times.

The Red Sox are "wannabees"? Sounds like sour grapes to me.

In other Red Sox news: John Lackey just took a physical in Boston. A signing appears imminent. I'm not too high on Lackey, but he's still a big signing. Your move, Andy.

I think we should all remember that the O's will use more than 5 starters this year, probably several more. Even if they pitch well and are not injured, you're not going to WANT to get 200 innings out of the kids - you have to protect those arms. Tillman is 22 next year, and pitched a career-high 160+ innings last year (combined). He's probably shut down at 180 or so, if he gets there. Matusz will be 23, he threw just under 160 innings. 180 is probably right for him, too, but he's so smooth he might get a few more. Bergesen threw fewer innings last year because of his injury, threw 165 two years ago and is going to be 24-25 next season. He might be able to get more innings in, since he's older. A team throws around 1420-1450 innings per year, and even in last year's debacle, at 5.4 innings per start, Oriole starters accounted for more than 61% of that (875 innings). But league average is 5.8 innings per start (940 innings). That would put all three kids flat out at 180 innings and 200 each for Guthrie and Milwood - in other words, if everyone pitches well and is not injured.

So, having someone like Hernandez, Berken, Patton as swing men is absolutely necessary (assuming none of them makes the starting rotation.)

oh you mean not trading BRob for adam laroche and Marcus "out of baseball" giles.

Even intellegnet fans wanted him to spend money back in the 90's when the only high priced talent he had on the roster was Cal Ripken.

Everybody needs to chill out and realize for once the team is moving in the right direction. Can't change the past 12 years Do you really think PA, a trial attorney likes losing? Those guys are bred to win at any cost (ie screwing companies on flimsy science and research to make a buck).

You all need a Robin Williams/Matt Damon hug.

It's not your fault.

Don't screw with me man!

It's not your fault

Don't do this to me man!

(hugging and sobbing)

Pete/Jeff,

Another big name FA about to sign with one of the AL east powerhouses. Lackey is taking a physical in Boston, and looking likely he will wind up signing this week. I honestly wish the Orioles would step up and offer mega bucks to a prime FA one of these years, rather than trying to acquire players past their prime or signing second or third tier FAs. I am getting tired of seeing the big names wind up either in Boston or NY. Adrian Beltre is not a big name but he may very well wind up in Boston if they can rid themselves of Lowell. Looks like the Angels are going to snag Matsui as well. Sad.

But hey, there is always Russell Branyan or Nick Johnson right? or Mike Jacobs? or a trade for Alex Gordon? Or a trade for Kouz? We need help man.

I think you need a minimum of 12 viable reliever candidates for 8 bullpen positions going into spring training. I think Hernandez and Berken make sense for the bullpen as long relief or spot starter role; however, I'd like to see one of them start the season at 3A where they can be used as a starter to get more regular work.

Didn't Hernandez start to bounce back a little at the end of last year because of a 'fix' to his mechanics? His head was tilted to the side right before delievery or something causing his fastball to straighten and curveball to just spin? Things are looking up for the Os staff (should be right?) as they won't have 30+ pitchers to sort through to put together a decent staff to start '10. And the chances of 5 starters making every start is slim so having a Hernandez, Berken, and Hendrickson in the bullpen will be handy. Throw in a couple guys who will start the season at AAA and you have good depth...not confusing this rotation with '71 Os, but it sure looks better than the beginning of last year. Gil, don't go! Your opinions are valid, even if they don't always jive with mine or everybody's,at least its healthy debate and not just name calling.

David Hernandez was outstanding in the minors so sending him back there would be a mistake. I am not saying he will only be a reliever, but let him pitch out of the BP against big league hitters and see what happens from there.

I think Berken should start off the season in AAA. I don't know how good he will be, but the kid is a tough SOB because he got hammered night after night and never moaned or groaned or let it get him down.

Sarfate is a tease, as his stuff is great, but no command. I feel like he will be the D Cab of relievers. I hope the O's don't waste too much time with him.

Gil:

All the best to you at Christmas and the New Year. Hopefully the Os will do enough things to renew your interest and we see you back here sooner than later.

Jeff, If Kam Mickolio is healthy and still in the organization come opening day, I have to think he goes north with the team unless he has an awful spring training.

He, too, has a power arm and has averaged better than a strikeout an inning since turning pro. At 6.9" and with a quirky delivery, he can be really tough to hit. In other words, he, too, fits the seventh-inning role, as well.

He's looked better pitching in the majors than Hernandez, but admittedly hasn't pitched as much. Mickolio turns 26 in May, Hernandez 25 in the same month, so everything else being equal, I'd think the O's would give the older player the first opportunity for the late-inning role and use the other more for middle-inning relief work.

P.S. As far as names go, I believe at some point during the season Hernandez said he preferred to be called Dave Hernandez, not David.

CB Coach:

Who is your 5th starter if Tillman goes to the pen. Someone we've already got or do we go for another FA.

SHAMROCK:

I agree with you about PA. He hasn't been a good owner for sure, but I do think he likes to win. I remember back in 96, I think, PA over-ruled Gillick when Gillick wanted to dump a lot of the high priced talent and begin rebuilding.

Obviously, it would have been better in the long term if PA had just gotten out of PG's way and let him run the team, but that action was NOT what a guy who didn't care about winning would have done.

Why not let him start in AAA the odds of Millwood, Guthrie, Tillman, Matusz and Bergesen all staying healthy are not likely. He's 24 no reason to force him to the pen already, and has he thrown as a reliever at all recently he may not have the bounce back arm needed. Can he warm up fast enough etc. Just some thoughts yea he could throw harder but personally I'd say give him another year to see what happens I'm not saying never just let him prepare as a starter, it's much easier to go from expecting to pitch 6 innings to one than vice versa

'Valid' was a dumb way to term Gil's opinions...I think 'well thought out' would be a better way to go.

B'land Todd, maybe one of the reasons some teams don't start future starters in the bullpen is so their 'arbitration clock' doesn't start ticking while they're in the pen?

While I agree that nobody from a 64 win team should be guaranteed a spot in the rotation, having to only sort through 8 potential starters sure will make it easier for whoever the 5 are to get ready.

I believe the Os were out of the wild card by 7-8 games when Gillick wanted to make a deal Angelos shot down...Gillick said (told my stepdad in spring training one year) it was Bobby Bo for Brian Giles and Bartolo Colon.

I believe PA likes to win as well, but he's a control freak and can't let his guys do their jobs.

I can't believe the Phillies are going to flip Halladay to the Os for Berken and Wiggy.

Josh - first I disagree with your characterization of the team being stripped down. Second where in the world did you come up with the idea that the reason was to remove "guarantees"? It was done to jump start the rebuilding of talent in the organization and was spectacularly successful at that.

I believe that using the bullpen as a punishment for pitchers who have a bad outing is counterproductive. Times have changed and pitchers in the minors are usually groomed for specific roles. Relievers usually need to stretch out their arms for the longer stints, Mental prep for pitching every couple days vs every 5 days is different. Your suggestion might work for some individuals but is just as likely to ruin others. Personally I believe in letting the guys who work with the pitchers everyday for many hours make those determinations, not fans who see a 2 dimensional tv image or a live player from far away.

Gil, I usually didnt take your posts as just negativity for negativity's sake. That is the difference between you and Wayne or Brummie. It is one thing to voice disagreement and another to carry on a crusade that involves mischaracterization, loaded words, finding negative in even the few positives, false accusations, spinning everything to suit your purposes. I agree with the "plan". You dont. fine. BUt there is no nee for a campaign of micro analysis twisted to find fault with every move large and small.

The only way Ray Rice would be considered for an MVP is if the Ravens make it to the Super Bowl with Rice carrying the team all the way.

The question is: would David Hernandez embrace the role of a reliever? We all know that he wants to be a starter.
Tillman is a least one year away from competing at the major league level, Arrieta two years away. He may have to start if the team isn't able to land Bedard or Sheets.
Millwood, Bedard, Bergesen, Matusz, Guthrie

The rotation of Millwood, Guthrie, Bergesen, Matusz, and Tillman makes me feel somewhat more relaxed than last year's Spring Training open auditions.

Right now, I'd put Hernandez, Berken, Uehara, Castillo, Meredith, Mickolio, Johnson in the bullpen and bring back Hendrickson. (Make Koji the closer). Since this is basically last year's bullpen recycled, it would be nice to bring in a few new arms, but I'm not expecting that to happen.

DSPEDDEN- I think Hernandez was projected as a ML RP in the minors. His swing and miss fastball is perfect as a set-up man. Plus he can't throw 100 pitches in 1 inning as he does in 4 innings starting.

Bob C- That was the wildcard year... I remember that. Amazing finish. For as much as he's "meddled" he's sure stepped in at a few right times. The plan just hasn't worked. The bullpen was too horrible to keep it up.

If Hernandez is to be converted to a reliever just don't do it at the major league level. It is obvious he still needs mechanical adjustments & work on the command of all 3 of his pitches.

Perhaps the repetition of bullpen work will make him a more consistent pitcher but if he ever harnesses his command he definitely has starter talent.

Jeff

Hernandez has a really good MLB fastball and slider. Has a below average change (like Tillman) and has been working on a split.


bob c,

I would look to the outside
So you have
Millwood
Guthrie
Matusz
Bergesen
another trade or free agent
then the bullpen
Tillman
Hernandez
Berken
Hendrickson
Albers-Why?
Left handed specialist
Koji
Meredith
Johnson
Sarfate
Mickolio
all competing for 7 slots. Maybe they will make a deal or two. Mickolio probably will start in Triple A.

I hope the Orioles study their history and don't repeat the Mesa blunder. Jose Mesa was a great starter for 3 innings and then faded fast. The Orioles brain trust at the time "KNEW" that Mesa's arm absolutely could not stand up repeated use out of the bullpen, so they dumped him. What happened you ask? Well, the Phillies turned him into a closer and he dominated the league for several years. Lesson: If a pitcher can mow down for the first 3, he can finish them off in the last 2.

With the acquisition of Millwood it appears Hernandez is out as a starter. Of course, injuries can play into the decision. For example, will Bergesen be as effective after his injury last year? If not, he wouldn't be the first starter to lose it after being hit with a batted ball. Of course, I think Patton if healthy could be ahead of Hernandez to grab a starter's spot.

Looking at the free agents at thrid, it's pretty bleak. No long term prospects there and if looking at them as a stop gap what you'll get is a number 8 hitter.

Pretty much the same story at first. When you look at what's available, there's really only one who MAY give you more than Aubrey. The O's may have something in Aubrey. He was highly regarded before his string of injuries and he appears healthy now. He hit very well while closing the year with the O's and hit with some power. Plus, he was an excellent fielder. Still he's not the number 4 hitter the O's need. The one FA I would consider is Adam LaRoche. I was surprised to see his career averages are .274, 25 hrs and 90 rbi. Plus, he'll be 31 years old all season. He could be a number 4 but I wonder idf we have too many left handed hitters in the lineup. What do you all think?

"the Orioles’ 40-man is stocked with relievers -- Matt Albers, Alberto Castillo, Armando Gabino, Luis Lebron, Cla Meredith, Kam Mickolio, Wilfrido Perez and Dennis Sarfate. Several of those names could be roster casualties this offseason."

Maybe they all should be casualties... Albers and Sarfate have not panned out, and with the excpetion of Mickolio and Merdith, the rest of them haven't done anything and really are AAA players at best.

I disagree with the guy who trashed Mike Jacobs.

Jacobs had two pretty solid years with the Marlins before tanking with KC in a new league last year.

I believe he would be good for 25 HRs and 80 RBIs in the Yards and his batting behind Markakis would be a big plus. We found out after the Huff trade last year that as good as he is, Markakis cannot carry a team. He needs someone batting behind him.

But I digress. The O's should grab Mike Jacobs before someone else does.

"Well, the Phillies turned him into a closer and he dominated the league for several years."

Actually the Indians turned Mesa into a closer and he had 46 saves with them six years before he went to the Phillies

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Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

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