Astros Release Livan Hernandez, Braves Swoop In

In perhaps the fasteset set of transactions I’ve ever seen, the Astros announced that they were releasing Livan Hernandez at 12:07 pm eastern time, and then Jon Heyman reported that Livan was signing with the Braves at 2:02 pm eastern. Livan wasn’t even unemployed for two hours.

Livan’s a pretty fascinating guy. While his xFIPs are crazy consistent over the last four years (xFIP- of 112, 111, 114, 111), his results have swung wildly from awful in 2008-2009 (ERA- of 138 and 133) to pretty good in 2010 (ERA- of 91) back to not great (ERA- of 118) last year. On one hand, you know exactly what you’re getting with Livan – a durable innings eater who won’t miss bats. On the other hand, you have no idea what you’re going to get from Livan, as his BABIP and HR/FB rates have fluctuated wildly over the last five years.

This series of moves perfectly illustrates how a player can have value to one team but not another. The Braves needed to reduce their exposure to disaster performances, and signing Hernandez gives them some rotation depth and the ability to let Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado start the year in the minors. While he doesn’t do anything to help raise their upside in win total, he probably helps raise the downside slightly, as they now have a decent enough fifth starter to keep the team from imploding if the kids aren’t quite ready on Opening Day.

The Astros, though, have little need to reduce their volatility. The marginal value of a win to a team in their position is quite small, and as a pure rebuilding organization, they’re better off figuring out what they have in a guy like Kyle Weiland instead. The innings Livan would have pitched for Houston would have just reduced the number of chances the team would have had to evaluate their young arms, and so the value of having a veteran stop-gap in place simply wasn’t there.

It’s weird to see a contender pick up a guy that the worst team in baseball just decided they didn’t want, but in this case, it makes sense for both sides. Perhaps that’s why it all happened so fast.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
TomahawkChopper
Member
TomahawkChopper
4 years 5 months ago

In 1100 career PAs, he has accumulated 9.4 WAR. In

Matt Diaz has 1900 career PAs and 6.0 WAR.

Ian R.
Guest
Ian R.
4 years 5 months ago

Granted, the replacement level for hitting pitchers is comically low, but that’s still awesome.

Richie
Member
Richie
4 years 5 months ago

Actually, if that’s Livan in comparison to other pitchers and Diaz in comparison to other outfielders, it doesn’t really mean a blessed thing, then, does it?

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

Yes?

Jack
Guest
Jack
4 years 5 months ago

Livan Hernandez has literally pitched 6 innings of four run baseball for every team in the majors.

Will
Guest
Will
4 years 5 months ago

That would equate to a career 6.00 ERA.

He’s more like the prototypical 6 innings of 3 run baseball, which would equate to a 4.50 ERA, not far off from his career 4.39 ERA.

adohaj
Guest
adohaj
4 years 5 months ago

Yea but what if he pitches 6 innings of 4 run baseball then the next game pitches 6 innings of 2 run baseball!??

Shane H
Guest
Shane H
4 years 5 months ago

Earned Runs and runs are not the same. FIP works well for Livan as his career FIP is 4.39 and his ERA is 4.38.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
4 years 5 months ago

Why use the word ‘literally’ when you’re saying something that’s not literally true?

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
4 years 5 months ago

Wow. That literally made my head explode.

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
4 years 5 months ago

I LITERALLY have never seen a better comment thread.

Nats Fan
Member
Nats Fan
4 years 5 months ago

Are you saying he is literally illiterate?

Jack
Guest
Jack
4 years 5 months ago

Because it is literally true in a philosophical way. While history cannot show us each particular event, every baseball fans knows exactly what it feels like to watch Livan Hernandez do this to his team.

jim
Guest
jim
4 years 5 months ago

y u no have sense of humor?

Chris Trager
Guest
Chris Trager
4 years 5 months ago

Wow. That last comment was Literally the smartest thing everyone has ever said.

winfield wants noise
Guest
4 years 5 months ago

Not one team would complain about that production from a spot starter.

Josh
Guest
Josh
4 years 5 months ago

DOB saying Livan is going to the pen and has no effect on the 5th starter race.

Johnny Come Lately
Guest
Johnny Come Lately
4 years 5 months ago

His date of birth tells you all that?

TK
Guest
TK
4 years 5 months ago

Don’t be stupid, everyone knows Livan does not have a DOB.

Blue
Guest
Blue
4 years 5 months ago

He has a date of birth officially, but its just 99/99/99

Blue
Guest
Blue
4 years 5 months ago

That’s a database joke that’s probably too geeky for even this crowd

adohaj
Guest
adohaj
4 years 5 months ago

Livan for HOF

Brandon
Guest
Brandon
4 years 5 months ago

I didn’t know there was a Hall of Fat.

Nats Fan
Member
Nats Fan
4 years 5 months ago

Don’t be douche bag! Livan was the near the best pitchers in the game a decade ago. Nobody threw the innings he did. I believe if he has been willing to pitch merely 200 innings rather than 250-270 innings he could have been even more effective and truly dominated.

Ben
Guest
Ben
4 years 5 months ago

Jamie Moyer scoffs at youngsters like Livan Hernandez who get by with their fancy fastballs and swinging strikes!

mikesavino85
Member
4 years 5 months ago

I am fervently hoping he makes the Rockies rotation. Seriously, if I was a baseball owner, Jamie Moyer would always be a starter. And Johnny Damon would play every day. It would be my personal mission to get mediocre players to hall of fame thresholds.

Dave S
Guest
Dave S
4 years 5 months ago

I wonder if the Phils follow suit, and scoop up Fontenot (just released by SF).

Nats Fan
Member
Nats Fan
4 years 5 months ago

Livan is as close to a sure thing 1.5 WAR as a starting pitcher can be! He will easily pitch 180 innings. He never gets hurt. His FIP has been just below 4 the last two seasons. If his experience can help the pitchers around him, and I believe it can, then he is a very good 5th starter. Livan is a master of throwing worthless pitches and still keeping the hitters off balance. He is the best in the game of succeeding with zero stuff. He will always keep a game close. I have no doubt he will be offered several pitching coach positions the day he retires.

piccamo
Member
piccamo
4 years 5 months ago

1.5 WAR is more than most of the projected Orioles rotation.

44
Guest
44
4 years 5 months ago

DC loves Livo. Started the first Nats home game and had a shutout into the 9th inning. Man, he is fun to watch.

Blue
Guest
Blue
4 years 5 months ago

As an aside, do you ever scroll up after a comment thread here, see an interesting story on the side, and click it just to find out it is just another worthless “Bleacher Report” article?

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
4 years 5 months ago

Too often

bstar
Guest
bstar
4 years 5 months ago

Seconded.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd
4 years 5 months ago

Fun comments all around today

doffbhoya123
Guest
doffbhoya123
4 years 5 months ago

he’ll also serve as pinch hitter when chipper gets hurt.

Shane H
Guest
Shane H
4 years 5 months ago

The Braves rotation issues look alot like the 1B, OF, DH issue in ANGELS camp.

TomahawkChopper
Member
TomahawkChopper
4 years 5 months ago

Can he play LF? Can’t be worse out there than that Hinske/Diaz combination.

PeterMolinari
Member
4 years 5 months ago

Interested in how much Matt Cain is worth? Check out my blog at
http://www.baseballholistics.blogspot.com

steex
Member
steex
4 years 5 months ago

I can’t help wondering if the Braves brought him in as much to work with Teheran and Delgado as to give them an insurance policy against them. Certainly they assume Hernandez will have additional value as a second pitching coach and mentor for their young Hispanic pitchers. Who better to help refine a couple guys with strong raw talent than a guy who has kept his career alive with smarts years after his stuff left him?

jirish
Guest
jirish
4 years 5 months ago

That is an excellent point-I have long thought when Livan’s pitching days are over that he is going to make a fine pitching coach. Anyone who continuously makes the adjustments to stay on the mound like he has, has got to know pitching. Until he retires, he can certainly serve the role as mentor.

Richie
Member
Richie
4 years 5 months ago

Smart people can be awful teachers. It takes much more in the way of various emotional aptitudes than it does an ability to really figure things out for yourself.

Jay29
Guest
Jay29
4 years 5 months ago

Yeah, of course that is true. But it’s not as if anyone is saying “Livan is an experienced pitcher so he HAS to be a good pitching coach.” They’re saying that perhaps there is a reason for this signing other than eating up innings.

Walter Zink
Guest
Walter Zink
4 years 5 months ago

this is a brilliant article. thank you for your work.

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