Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Minnesota makes veteran move that may benefit Liriano

For the first time in many years, the Minnesota Twins opening day starter will not be either Johan Santana or Brad Radke.

Neither will this pitcher be Livan Hernandez.

Tuesday, the Twins signed Hernandez when the 32-year-old journeyman inked a $ 5 million contract for the 2008 season.

Santana brought his top-dollar, Cy Young award-award winning arm with him to New York. Radke retired in 2006 after spending all of his 12 Major League seasons with Minnesota.

The Twins 2008 opening day starter this March 31 will likely be either Francisco Liriano or Scott Baker. As for the other three spots in the Twins starting rotation, Hernandez should earn one and there will be battles for the other two.

Starting rotation aside, one thing is certain about Hernandez, the native of Cuba and 12-year MLB journeyman will add veteran leadership to this very young Twins pitching staff (something Radke gave Minnesota for a long time).

Known as a common choice for Twins opening day starter over the years, Radke is not similar to Hernandez in physical stature or pitching style, however, the two right-handers are similar in durability.

Radke pitched 12 seasons of Major League Baseball.

Eisler "Livan" Hernandez will enter his enter 13th season as an MLB starter.

Throughout his Twins career, Radke tossed 2,451 innings for a 204.1 per-season average. As for Hernandez, the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks starter has chalked up 2,371 innings for a 197.6 inning-per-season average.

Also, the two pitchers' career records and ERA are similar.

Radke was 148-139 in his career with a 4.22 ERA. Hernandez has compiled a 134-128 record and a 4.25 ERA.

Now, if you go beyond regular season achievements, you'll find Hernandez -- a 6-foot-2-inch, 245-pound native of Villa Clara, Cuba -- has the upper hand on Radke.

Radke has appeared in one All Star game (1998). Hernandez has two All-Star appearances (2004, 2005) and a World Series ring.

Hernandez was also the MVP of the 1997 World Series when he pitched the Florida Marlins to a seven-game championship over the Cleveland Indians -- a series that became known as the "Latino Series."

The message here is that Hernandez is experienced and he's Latin.

What other Latin pitcher is competing for a Twins starting rotation position?

Minnesota's future ace and 24-year-old flame thrower, Liriano (who grew up in the Dominican Republic).

To sum up Minnesota's one-year agreement with Hernandez:

No, the result will not give Minnesota a 2008 championship. Neither will Hernandez be a 20-game winner for his new club.

On the bright side, however, for the Twins' youthful pitching staff this move should bode well both for the staff (as a whole) and for Liriano.

Hernandez should benefit Minnesota by aiding Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson in the development of Liriano.

Furthermore, with the absence of Santana the move might also can assist Anderson in doing something else. Hernandez could be the key in aiding Anderson to mold Liriano into a future Cy Young award winner.

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