Fausto Carmona Is No More

Yesterday, Enrique Rojas broke the news that Fausto Carmona‘s real name is actually Roberto Heredia, and he’s three years older than his listed age of 28. Additionally, because he was using a false identity, Carmona’s Heredia’s chances of securing a work visa seem to be less than stellar. Previous players who have gotten caught using a false name and birthdate have ended up getting stuck in their home country, and it’s an open question whether or not Heredia will make it to the U.S. this year. The Indians are likely best off preparing as if he’s not going to be a member of their rotation in 2012.

Replacing a guy who posted a 130 ERA- last year doesn’t seem like that big of a challenge. In fact, the Tribe could run out pretty much any random Triple-A arm they wanted and expect to get similar or better results than what Heredia gave them a year ago. Of course, since you’re reading FanGraphs, you’re likely aware that past year ERA isn’t a great predictor of next season ERA, especially in cases where the results don’t line up with the underlying peripherals. In Heredia’s case, his xFIP- of 103 suggests that he was more likely to post an ERA closer to league average this year than he was to be lousy once again, and a starter who can throw 200 league average-ish innings has some real value. The Indians realized this as well, which is why they picked up his $7 million option rather than letting him hit the free agent market.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, Heredia’s in-flux status means that they can’t really count on being able to void his contract and reallocate those funds to another pitcher. There’s still a chance he could get his visa and join the team, in which case the club would still be on the hook for his salary – trying to get the contract completely voided on the basis of fraud isn’t easy and the case wouldn’t be settled any time soon.

So, with potentially limited funds to spend (after all, they still need a first baseman as well), Chris Antonetti will likely have to turn to the trade market if he wants to find a replacement for what the team was expecting Heredia to provide. And, luckily for the Indians, they might have a chance to make a deal that could allow them to bring in a pretty similar pitcher that they’re already very familiar with – Jake Westbrook.

Westbrook is currently slated to be the Cardinals fifth starter, but there has been talk that the team has kicked the tires on bringing in Roy Oswalt, who would apparently love to pitch for St. Louis and is still looking for a job. Westbrook’s presence on the roster complicates the decision to sign Oswalt, however, as they’d essentially end up just eating the $8.5 million that Westbrook is owed for 2012 if they bumped him from the rotation. However, if they found a team willing to take Westbrook and a portion of his remaining salary, they’d have both a job for Oswalt and some extra cash to throw his way.

Westbrook’s skillset is very similar to Heredia’s, and if the Indians are looking to replace his production with something in the same mold, it’d be hard to find an available pitcher with more in common than Westbrook. Here are their 2011 seasons side by side:

Name IP BB% K% GB% HR/FB LOB% BABIP ERA- FIP- xFIP-
Jake Westbrook 183.1 9.0 % 12.9 % 59.3 % 11.4 % 69.1 % .313 126 114 106
Fausto Carmona 188.2 7.2 % 13.1 % 54.8 % 13.0 % 62.1 % .291 130 114 103

Westbrook traded a few additional walks for a few more ground balls, but overall, the results are basically the same. Westbrook also posted an ERA quite a bit higher than his xFIP would have suggested, though the culprit in his case was more BABIP than HR/FB, but like Heredia, he’s a decent bounce back candidate for next season.

Since Westbrook’s familiar with the Indians and they could basically guarantee him a rotation job, Westbrook could likely be enticed into waiving his no-trade clause and accepting a move back to his original franchise. The Cardinals would likely be more interested in freeing up a rotation spot for Oswalt than clearing out a large sum of money, and coming off a poor year, Cleveland probably wouldn’t have to pick up more than $3 million of the $8.5 million Westbrook is due this year. Antonetti already showed a willingness to make this kind of move earlier this off-season, when the team picked up Derek Lowe from the Braves under similar circumstances.

The move would seem to be a win-win for everyone. The Cardinals would upgrade their rotation to help fight off the Reds in the NL Central race, the Indians get a lower cost innings-eater to help replace Heredia, Westbrook gets a more secure spot in a rotation with an organization he knows well, and Oswalt would finally be able to land with a contender in the NL, where he’s used to pitching.

The Cardinals and Indians have been regular trading partners over the years. Given yesterday’s developments, it might be time for them to hook up again.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


60 Responses to “Fausto Carmona Is No More”

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  1. Uncle Randy says:

    Thats a great idea

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  2. West says:

    I wonder what Albert Pujols’s real name is….

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  3. JDanger says:

    I knew it.

    “Fausto” just sounded made-up.

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  4. Nate says:

    Dave,
    What a world!
    When are we going to learn that your real name is actually “Manuel”, and that you’re actually 4 inches shorter than reported??

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  5. tdotsports says:

    “He seems mature beyond his years.”

    -Things you never want to read in a scouting report for a prospect from the Dominican.

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  6. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    If his name is “Roberto Hernandez Heredia,” wouldn’t Heredia be his mother’s family name under Spanish practice? That would make him Roberto Hernandez.

    For example, Livan Hernandez is actually Livan Hernandez Carrera.

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  7. hernandez17 says:

    What’s the problem with Oswalt? Health concerns, contract demands? Seems like he has been unsigned way longer than people thought he would…

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    • cpebbles says:

      Part of it is that he’s picky about which teams he’d be willing to pitch for.

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      • DaRube says:

        He’s got a history of back trouble. And this offseason, he wanted a 3 year contract before he wanted a one year contract. I suspect that, by the time he changed his mind, some of the teams that would have had him for one year had made other plans.

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  8. Wait Til Next Year says:

    Yes, this almost makes too much sense.

    “Westbrook could likely be enticed into waiving his no-trade clause and accepting a move back to his original franchise.”

    Not a big point, but a quick look at Baseball Reference tells us that the Indians were Jake the Snake’s 4th organization, after the Rockies, Expos and the Yankees

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  9. DD says:

    Fausto Carmona’s real name is Leo Nunez.

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  10. Anon says:

    As a Cardinal fan, this year is the perfect time to have a six man rotation. Carp is old and pitched a ton of innings last year. Wainwright is coming off surgery. Garcia is young. Lohse and Westbrook are bad. Limiting the innings of all of them for a year would be great. Oswalt for one year. 2013 rotation of Carp, Waino, Garcia, Miller, Lynn/other/FA.

    Too many questions about the 2012 rotation to be paying an innings eater to leave. Even though Westbrook is bad, the stability is worth something.

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  11. Brian says:

    I’m still going to call him Fausto. Cool name.

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  12. cpebbles says:

    I’d rather have an $8.5 million swingman than pay $5.5 million to make Westbrook go away.

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  13. Mr Punch says:

    Can anything be done about the guy impersonating Carl Crawford?

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  14. MikeS says:

    I think this sort of thing happens much more often than we suspect with latin ballplayers, depending on which country they are from.

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  15. Choo says:

    How do these baseball players from a baseball-crazed nation pull of the fake identity thing for so long? The DR is roughly the size of South Carolina and a lot of these guys grew up facing each other as kids.

    “Hey, Roberto! Long time no see!”

    “Hola amig- er I mean, que?”

    “Roberto, it’s me. Manuel Escuella! Childhood best friend! Double-play partner! C’mon, man.”

    “You must be confused. Me llamo Fausto Carmona. I do exhibit maturity beyond my years, so I can see why you might be confused.”

    “F*ck you, Roberto.”

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    • delv says:

      They play along. You think that the thousands of people watching him on TV back home don’t know his real name? When someone’s real name comes out, as with this, it’s most likely that someone tried to blackmail him (give me ten thousand or we’ll out you) and he wouldn’t budge. Indeed, it was the D.R. police that outed him, not an instituion known for its um… honest dealings, let’s say.

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  16. Flharfh says:

    The Indians can void his contract and not have to pay his salary, right? That should open up their budget by quite a bit.

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    • J Walter Weatherman says:

      Try reading the entire article. An entire paragraph is devoted to this.

      “Unfortunately for Cleveland, Heredia’s in-flux status means that they can’t really count on being able to void his contract and reallocate those funds to another pitcher. There’s still a chance he could get his visa and join the team, in which case the club would still be on the hook for his salary – trying to get the contract completely voided on the basis of fraud isn’t easy and the case wouldn’t be settled any time soon.”

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    • Omikron says:

      Maybe, but Carmona’s contract was a club exercised option. Meaning, the Indians didn’t have to pay him anything, they could have let him enter free agency. They still thought money spent on Carmona was money well spent despite his rather poor 2011 ERA. If they thought they had a much better use for the 7 million I think he’s due this year, they wouldn’t have picked up the option. Plus, voiding a contract takes time and money. I suspect the Indians are hoping he can his visa situation worked out before the season starts.

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  17. chuckb says:

    The Indians, though, have to see themselves as contenders in the AL Central unless every non-Tigers team in that division is just going to punt 2012. Thus, to me, it makes more sense to try and sign Oswalt themselves. He’s better than Westbrook and it would cost them just $5 or $6 M more than the scenario you envision. If they really are that strapped for cash then your idea has merit but I can’t believe this team will just punt the division, handing it over to the Tigers on a platter, over $5 M.

    (Sorry, Twins’ fans. Maybe I’m slighting your team a little.)

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  18. puffy says:

    Acquire Pelfrey. They’re freaking clones. (except for the whole, latino, white thing.)

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  19. MBD says:

    If you’re going to give up your identity – in a way, your soul – for worldly fame and fortune, then Fausto is a great name to pick. He deserves points for his literary flair.

    As someone else noted above, it’s hard to see how people get away with this shit. How hard do teams look at players? Presumably, he wasn’t living in Carmona’s house. Did his parents assume fake identities too? Why don’t competing players rat them out?

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    • When you ask why competing players don’t rat them out, you realize this is the same game that had half the players using steroids for 15 years?

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      • MBD says:

        Sure, I thought about that. But I think these situations involve different groups “in the know”. With steroids, it was probably mostly other users who knew, and they weren’t going to say anything. With identities, anyone who knew the kid could say, “That’s Roberto.” Moreover, players already in the majors are less likely to become snitches than some poor, honest kid who sees an older guy lying and getting a contract that will start him on the road to riches. It just takes one guy, probably the one who comes in second, to point out that the “best” kid is really a man beating up on boys.

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      • cb says:

        Regarding what Jamie said, I guess the sad thing is that guys like Carmona and Nunez didn’t need to participate in this kind of thing. They were good enough to make it on their own.

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      • Feeding the Abscess says:

        cb:

        They apparently weren’t, since they weren’t good enough when they were actually 16 or whatever to get signed by a team.

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    • Jamie says:

      I don’t know if you have sold you soul in any way. Often times making the majors can be a ticket out of poverty for not only themselves, but for their entire family as well. In that light it is hard to blame anyone for doing this.

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  20. beastwarking says:

    Why should the Indians be on the hook for his salary? He signed as Fausto Carmona and I am sure a big part of the reason they signed him was because of his age. The contract he signed should be void on the grounds of fraud.

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  21. Nolan says:

    You think Westbrook is going to waive his no-trade clause to go play in Cleveland, of all places? I’m pretty sure he’s going to say no thanks and choose to defend the title.

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  22. T says:

    They should make the check out to Fausto Carmona, add a few million, and then hand it to him knowing he can’t legally cash it anymore.

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  23. Miguel Arias says:

    Fausto Carmona- one of the coolest name in MLB. If he comes back, he should keep it anyways.

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  24. Todd says:

    Speaking as a Cardinals’ fan, I fully endorse this post.

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  25. malcolm says:

    I wonder if anyone has noticed the allegory of the name that mr. heredia chose in assuming a new identity. there is certainly something of a pact with the devil to be made, when one has to try to make the leap from a fourth-world colony to the ultimate land of dreams, not just a green card but a mlb career. who would not consider all options to acheive this goal, especially when dozens of relatives, friends, coaches, and agents encourage you? but to deliberately choose FAUST, knowing that someday one might well be caught? irony.

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  26. Someone didn’t dig deep enough when they saw his parents’ names were Lucifer and Jezebel.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Yeah, no one remembers the Robin Hood spoof (Men in tights)?

      “So, you changed your name to Latrine?”

      “Yeah, it used to be Sh–house.”

      “Good change. That’s a good change.”

      The movie quotes that stick in one’s mind.

      “Did you say Abe Lincoln?” “No, Hey Blinkin.”

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  27. Kampamocha says:

    As Well-Beered Englishman correctly says, the name is Roberto Hernandez Heredia, Hernandez from his dad and Heredia from his mom, so he should be called mr. Hernandez and not mr. Heredia

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  28. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    So this is what teams man when they say “player to be named later”.

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  29. Jimmy says:

    So this is what teams mean with “player to be named later”.

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