Almost immediately upon arriving in Washington last year, AHern swatted the baseball like he never did before, batting .333 with a .409 OBP in 28 games and 91 plate appearances, walking 10 times and striking out only 8. That offensive outburst was enough to make us wonder if the Mets made a mistake in giving up on the previously light-hitting Hernandez — who perennially leads the Caribbean winter league in batting but flops upon returning to the States.
However, Hernandez went right back to his expected offensive output this year — .251 AVG, .310 OBP, 41 Ks in 255 times to the plate. So we can presume that 28-game hot streak was an aberration.
So it’s interesting that the Mets would bring him back to Flushing, considering he is redundant to Wilson Valdez and Argenis Reyes — both of whom remain in Buffalo. Though, personally, I always enjoyed watching AHern and given the choice of all three, would take him over Reyes and Valdez.
In return for AHern, the Mets sent A-ball infielder Greg Veloz to the Nats. Veloz is sort of a 21-year-old version of Hernandez (or Argenis Reyes) — a switch-hitting middle-infielder with above-average speed. He doesn’t have the fielding prowess of AHern nor Argenis, and in fact there was a time that the Mets felt he’d hit enough to move to 3B (he was their #16 prospect in 2008 according to Baseball America). However, he hit a disappointing 6 HRs in a little less than 600 plate appearances last season, and is hitting only .232 with 2 HR through 91 games thus far this year.
For a moment, I questioned why the rebuilding Nationals would trade away a still-young, Gold-Glove caliber second baseman but I guess they don’t see AHern hitting enough to ever be a regular. And, they have acquired a youngster who is quickly becoming a non-prospect but still has time to rebound. It’s not like the Nats are going anywhere in 2010 nor 2011, so they have time to wait.
With the arrival of AHern, I’m guessing that Luis Castillo’s “mild ankle strain” is worse than originally indicated.