Add a curveball to Jeff Luhnow's building repertoire of pitches.
Many thought that Livan Hernandez was a lock for an opening roster spot, including us. I believed it so much that I even admonished Sean on our most recent podcast for thinking such a thing. I am certainly eating humble pie today and I don't like it.
The move I mean, I like pie even if it is of the humble variety.
Hernandez was a cheap option in the rotation with the moniker innings eater. He's made 29 starts or more every year all the way back to 1997, when he won the World Series with the Marlins. And don't confuse last years 29 starts with a decline, he was sat by the Nationals to get some younger pitchers experience towards the end of the 2011 season.
This is a damn the torpedo's full speed ahead moment. This is driving around without a seat belt. The Astros just released their safety blanket, they're walking a tight rope without a net. It's a risk, one that may or may not pay off.
Sure there are options at AAA in the event something disastrous happens. Paul Clemens, Dallas Keuchel and Aneury Rodriguez are all fine options pitching in Oklahoma City this year, but they're young and chances of them matching the production of Hernandez is small. Not to say that it they couldn't its just unlikely, Jordan Lyles and the other young starter are an example of that from 2011.
The Astros were lucky in the rotation last year, no major injuries, some ineffectiveness that was replaced by the likes of Jordan Lyles, Anuery Rodriguez, Henry Sosa and Lucas Harrell. The thing is Brett Myers was the only one to start 33 games and he's been moved to the bullpen. Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris started 30 or more, but just barely. J.A. Happ struggled his way through 28 starts.They may not get that kind of luck this year.
I was all for the Myers move, because there was a guy like Hernandez to replace his production.
And I'm not saying that Hernandez would of worked out and been effectively he could of just as easily been the opposite, but that's when you make the move not towards the end of Spring training. Right?
The Astros have way more information than I do to weigh the decision. They also have a lot smarter people and maybe all of them saw something in the numbers or on the mound that lead them to that decision. They've also managed to save a $100,000 by releasing Hernandez at the deadline of the veteran payment conditions, curtsey of the new collective bargaining agreement.*
Any veteran with at least six years and still with the team after today get $100,000.
Maybe they prefer in keeping a guy like Sosa with a little upside instead of a Hernandez, who has no upside. Maybe they want to give the young guys a shot and start sorting out who is a part of the future and who isn't. Or maybe after trading Wandy, Norris breaking down and Happ being an expensive fifth start the Astros struggle to find pitchers to fill innings.
Either way the Astros just flipped off the safety and they may end up shooting themselves in the foot with this move.