Mets Sign Livan Hernandez

According to The Daily News, the Mets have signed Livan Hernandez to a $1M minor league deal, with another $1M possible in performance bonuses.

Call me crazy, but I like this signing. As long as the Mets are going to throw around “little” one-million-dollar contracts here and there on scrap heapers, this makes sense. When ST breaks, Livan can win a job, start the year in the minors, or be released without receiving the $1M. Really a no-risk situation for the Mets.

Ideally, he starts the year in AAA and is insurance for the day one of the top 5 starters breaks down — which is nearly a guarantee. I say that not to be skeptical, but because that’s the way it is — every MLB team, every year, has at least one starting pitcher miss a start at some point in the season.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude February 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm
    ON the plus side, Livan brings experience and provides an adequate insurance policy to a growing list of possible rotation replacements along with Freddy Garcia, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, Elmer Dessens, and Brandon Knight. On the down side, Livan does not posess the talent he once did and, despite the name recognition, would produce more like a Brian Lawrence or Jose Lima if called upon. But I suppose the walls can never be covered with enough paint, even if that paint is ill-colored and old.

    Bringing something else to the blogs’ attention: there already seems to be some discention in the ranks as far as the #5 spot is concerned. Not long ago, Tim Redding was quoted as saying he thinks the #5 spot has already been handed to him:
    “It’s my assumption, and I’ve been told that I’ve been brought in here to be a starting pitcher, bottom line. I went through this for four years in Houston, being told that I have to compete against a bunch of guys. They brought me in here, and I’ve got a guaranteed contract.”
    Well, Tim, you know what happens when you assume, don’t you? Guarenteed contract or not, if you stumble through spring training with a bad attitude, you’ll be given the Aaron Sele treatment faster than a JJ Putz fastball – especially if one Freddy Garcia impresses in ST. But wait, Freddy has his own two cents to contribute to the matter:
    “Of course, I expect to be in the rotation. If not, I’ll have to go somewhere else.”
    Well isn’t this swell. Already we have a pair of malcontents on our hands who figure to take their ball and go home if they aren’t awarded a rotation spot based solely on historical merit. Looks to me like it won’t take long until all of these “insurance policies” get fed up with taking a back seat and leave the Mets with just as much rotation depth in the minors as they’ve had over the past 2 years – little to none. Doesn’t this upcoming season just have the makings of catastrophe written all over it?

  2. Andrew Vazzano February 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm
    You’re crazy, Joe.
  3. sincekindergarten February 14, 2009 at 6:13 pm
    ID, I’ve got to take an opposite look here. Both Redding and Garcia expect to be in the rotation. I think that Jerry Manuel needs to sit them down and say, “you gotta earn your way in–both of you, because Livan is here, too, and one of the three of you ain’t goin’ gangsta for me,” and then let the three fight it out, figuratively (of course), for the #5.
  4. isuzudude February 14, 2009 at 7:15 pm
    SK, I really envy your consistent peaches n’ cream mentality. Am I correct in guessing that you have wide selection of “Life is Good” t-shirts hanging in your closet?

    In all seriousness, you may be right – it might just take a stern talking to by some higher authority to get Redding and Garcia to buy into the philosophy that the success of the whole is greater than the success of the individual. But in actuality, Redding and Garcia are both over 30 and believe they’ve been through enough adversity throughout their careers that they deserve a guarenteed and permanent rotation spot as long as they are healthy enough to fulfill that role. Getting relegated to long relief or a AAA stint does nothing to progress their careers or ensure they will have a job this time next year. And we have to accept that there could be a possibility that one or both of these pitchers will go thru the 2009 season upset at the way they are being used, which could have a negative impact on and off the field. Perhaps having Jerry give the “you gotta earn your way in” lecture to a couple of rookies would work wonders, but with a pair of veterans I think it comes across as demeaning and patronizing. They know they have to earn their spot, but I think their pride will tell them that they have already earned it with their reputations.

  5. upson February 15, 2009 at 1:28 am
    ID & SK: good points, but I am not that much worried about this whole Redding – Garcia verbal “controversy”. At this point, I’m pretty sure the plan is to go with Garcia or Hernandez as a 5th starter and Redding as a long man. The loser of Garcia/Hernandez will be in Binghampton and hence won’t pose a problem in the clubhouse. On the other hand, Redding won’t pose a problem either, b/c he’s already mentally prepared to start the season in the bulpen. Of course, he has to say that he was signed to be a starter. But he also knows that he has a nice contract that guarantees him a roster spot and hence, consequently, an opportunity to start at some point during the season. (There’s a very little chance of all 5 Mets starters staying healthy through the whole season.)

    Btw, doesn’t Garcia have an opt-out clause in his contract? Judging from “if not here, then somewhere else” , I would not be surprised if he had such a clause.

  6. sincekindergarten February 15, 2009 at 10:03 am
    From what I saw on Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Garcia doesn’t have an opt-out clause. He had 9 total years of MLB service as of ’07, so I’m not sure if he could demand his unconditional release.

    ID, it puts more stress on the body to be a pessimist. The way I’ve treated my body through the years, I can use all the stress relief I can get. (With a 16-month-old daughter in the house, it’s important to be less stressed.) Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya have a situation, with the verbal “promises” of Redding and Garcia, that could go either way. It could very easily blow up in their (Minaya’s and Manuel’s) faces. I think that Omar was put on notice by the Wilpons after last year, and he and Jerry are going to do their damndest to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. My nod goes to Garcia–he was with the White Sox when they won it all in ’05, so he knows what it takes to win.

    I hope that both of them are big enough to realize that there is no “I” in team. Hackneyed, yes, but very true.

  7. Micalpalyn February 18, 2009 at 7:25 am
    While you are on the subject:

    Starters: Obviously the net result is depth. We ended last yr with Niese and that was not the best case scenario. But consider; What if Pel is the odd man out…to start the season? For me i just saw Maine not ready to go in April…and disabled till May 1st.

    2. If you can throw 1M at Livian, why not Pudge? Afraid he will show up Schneider?

    3. I am disappointed that Ohman nor Reyes have gotten more serious bites. I think lefty BP help is still an issue.

    4. AND I dont buy the Ryan Church Kool Aid. Best case is HE platoons with Tatis in RF. Frankly he has to show he can stay healthy.

  8. isuzudude February 18, 2009 at 9:10 am
    Best case scenario is Ryan Church being a platoon player, Mic? I think I’ll stick with the kool aid over the crack that you’re smoking.

    I am a fan of Will Ohman, though. Feliciano can’t shoulder the load alone.

  9. joe February 18, 2009 at 10:39 am
    Mic, why would Pelf be the odd man out? Are you suggesting he will be injured?

    I’m as befuddled as anyone as to why the Mets aren’t giving Pudge a shot. I guess they don’t want to shake Schneider’s confidence. God forbid there be a competition for a position, that might require a decision.

    As stated here several times before, Dennys Reyes has had exactly two good years out of 12 in MLB. If they can sign him to a minor league deal, great, otherwise, I don’t believe in getting a lefty just to have a lefty. I’d much rather have a better pitcher who happens to be righthanded. It’s worked for the Angels for the last ten years. Ohman may or may not be a good LOOGY — he’s been up and down in his career — so same goes for him. Though, both of those options are MUCH better than the smattering of non-roster invites — who, strangely enough, get hammered by LH batters (Martin, de Los Santos, Fossum). I still say bring back Ricardo Rincon on another minor league deal, and keep him available in AAA or Mexico.

    A Church / Tatis platoon in RF would be great, assuming Manny Ramirez is playing left field.

  10. isuzudude February 23, 2009 at 10:32 am
    Hmm…I guess Jerry is smoking some of the same crack as Mic…

    For the record, yes Murphy’s stats against left handed pitching were better than Church’s when compared head-to-head. Murphy hit .400, had a .462 OBP, and a .700 SLG, while Church was .264/.319/.406. But Murphy had only 10 ABs against lefties all season! I understand he was used in strictly a platoon role with Tatis and that was the reason for the low sample number, but is this really the evidence Jerry wants to use when saying that Murphy can handle left hand pitching better than Church? Give me a freakin break. I was of the impression that Church actually made great strides against LHP last season, and only started struggling after he returned from his lengthy stint on the DL. It also seems like Jerry isn’t taking defense into account here, as Church runs laps around Murphy in the field. It seems as though the fans aren’t the only ones who Murphy has fooled into believing that he is the reincarnation of Wade Boggs. You know, if Jerry is so infatuated with Murphy, why not play him at 2B over Castillo against LHP rather than Church? You can bet your behind that Church will produce more runs against lefties than Castillo, and platooning Castillo allows Murphy to hit 2nd (behind Reyes and out of the 6th and 7th spot) where he looked much more comfortable last year. And the argument of Murphy not being experienced enough to play 2B won’t float with me because he’s just as inexperienced as a RF. Leave it to the Mets to do everything the ass backwards way.

  11. joe February 23, 2009 at 11:39 am
    I’m a little stunned by the Manuel comments … particularly the one about Murphy being a “better hitter” than Church. If indeed Murphy turns out to be Wade Boggs, OK, but if not, this is not the way to start off the spring.

    Most Mets fans don’t realize that Jerry Manuel was run out of Chicago mainly because his players grew to hate him. His constant trashing of players to the media caused a negative energy in the clubhouse, and those zen-like “pearls of wisdom” grew tired quickly. I hope for his sake that the Mets get off to a quick start, because if they don’t, the ugly side of Manuel will rear its head. This town turns quickly when W’s aren’t put up.

  12. isuzudude February 23, 2009 at 11:44 am
    Agreed, Joe. There’s definitely a difference between lighting a fire under a player’s butt, and taking unneccesary potshots at a player behind his back.