Posts Tagged ‘Livan Hernandez’

When Santana’s On the Mound, It’s Money in the Bank

April 11, 2010

I’ve started a new tradition of trying to see the Mets play on Opening Day no matter where they’re playing. Last season’s opener at Cincinnati almost didn’t happen—foul, rainy weather that threatened a rain-out and since it was on a Monday, I had to call in sick to work (when in reality I was in Cincy praying that my flight wouldn’t be canceled or the game delayed.) Everything worked out, the Mets won and I even saw a pre-scandal Steve Phillips on my flight home.

Fast forward to this year: much less stressful. Took a personal day, great weather, decent nosebleeds seats, got a buzz at the new McFadden’s after the game, even managed to enter the ballpark early enough to receive one of those miniature Citi Field Home Run Apples as a souvenir. The apple also functions as a bank so I’ve decided to drop a quarter in the slot every time the Mets win. At the moment, there is a whopping fifty cents in there symbolizing their first two victories. If it wasn’t for a game-saving grab by Nationals left fielder Willie Harris in yesterday’s game, I would have accumulated another twenty five cents.

Nonetheless, today’s another day and I like my odds with Johan Santana on the mound. In seven career starts against the Nationals, the ace left-hander averages a little more than seven strikeouts a game with a won-lost record of 6-1 and an ERA of 2.63. I would have to say there’s a pretty good chance that I will be adding to my booty.

Another reason to feel confident that Santana and the Mets will emerge victorious this afternoon is that their counterpart, right-hander Livan Hernandez, age unknown, will be starting for the Nationals. Hernandez, in 33 career starts against the Mets, has allowed an average of seven hits to go along with a 4.58 ERA. Mets batters are hitting .289 with 25 homers, tied with the most by any major league team.

Mets fans will be the first to tell you that on days when Santana doesn’t pitch the likelihood of a Mets win is not so easy to compute. On this day, however, my gut tells me that I’ll be up twenty-five more cents by the end of the day.

Let’s Go Mets!

Mets Starting Pitching Has No One Else to Blame

August 24, 2009

Occasionally, in my day-to-day conversations with co-workers and friends, the topic of the New York Mets comes up. After agreeing that the team stinks and that they will not be making the post-season this year, I usually defend their performance by pointing out the enormous amount of injuries they’ve had to deal with. Nonetheless, after tuning into yesterday’s 9-7 loss to the defending World Series-champion Philadelphia Phillies, I have come to realize that injuries or not, the Mets lack good starting pitching.

Looking at their last four games, including Sunday’s outing by left-hander Oliver Perez and Wednesday’s embarrassing performance by righty Bobby Parnell, reinforces that notion. For Parnell, you can make the case that his ineffectiveness is because he started the 2009 campaign in the bullpen. He most likely wouldn’t have been given a chance to start for the Mets if lefty Jon Niese and right-hander Fernando Nieve weren’t on the disabled list. For Perez, who has been hindered by soreness in his right knee, the reasons for his disappointing pitching numbers are not so easy to assess.

In Perez’ fourteen starts thus far this year he has yet to pitch into the seventh inning. On Sunday, the Mets left-hander was yanked by manager Jerry Manuel after giving up six runs in just two-thirds of an inning pitched. With right-hander John Maine’s return to the starting rotation uncertain and the recent release of veteran Livan Hernandez, GM Omar Minaya will have his hands full heading into the 2010 season.

Options For the Mets Are That They Have No Options

August 18, 2009

For the Mets, placing third baseman David Wright on the 15-day disabled list with a concussion could be viewed as a no-brainer. Deciding on whether or not to grant right-hander Livan Hernandez another start is something altogether different. After witnessing another disappointing outing last night against the San Francisco Giants, the Mets may want to think about it, again. On the bright side, Hernandez did manage to pitch into the fifth inning. But ultimately he surrendered eleven hits that led to six runs and ended up picking up his third straight loss.

In Livan’s last outing on August 11th against Arizona he allowed five runs on seven hits in just four innings. With that performance, Mets manager Jerry Manuel felt perhaps that Hernandez’ tenure with the Mets may have run its course. Manuel slept on it and arose from his slumber opting to give the veteran right-hander another chance. That next chance was last night. Funny thing is that this time around Manuel didn’t need extra time to think things through. Without any hesitation, he confirmed that Hernandez would take his turn in the rotation for the time being. And who could blame him? With Tim Redding giving up three runs in one inning of relief last night and Nelson Figueroa following suit, there aren’t that many options for this beleaguered skipper to consider.

A Sunday Made for the Mets

July 27, 2009

On most Sundays throughout the summer, I am usually made to spend time away from the television set soaking up some rays. Aside from the occasional Sunday night game on ESPN, my viewing of Mets games suffers due to the lure of the great outdoors. Living in New York, that would mainly consist of either a relaxing day at the beach or spending some quality time barbecuing with my family. Nonetheless, on this particular Sunday, I found myself holed up in my apartment eagerly awaiting the start of the Mets game.

The Mets were looking to build on an impressive 10-3 victory Saturday night and take the weekend series from the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. For the Mets, veteran right hander Livan Hernandez was set to take the mound. Hernandez, who has been known to struggle in the early going this season, did just that. He surrendered three runs in the bottom of the first inning in which five out of the first six Astros batters would push the count full. Eventually, the Mets limited the damage with two well-timed defensive plays keeping the Astros in check. Not known for their ability to come back from a three-run deficit, I was already regretting the fact that I had wasted a sunny Sunday afternoon watching the Mets.

With the threat of rain in the forecast I decided to stay the course and see how this one would turn out. Little did I know that the Mets would stage a comeback in the top half of the third inning by scoring three runs. They went on to take the lead by adding two more runs in the top of the fourth and never looked back. It goes to show you that catching an occasional Mets game on a hot Sunday afternoon may not be as tortuous as you may think.

Mets Drop Two of Three Along with One of Their Starters on Their Way to the Bronx

June 12, 2009

Mets manager Jerry Manuel outwardly expressed last night after the Mets lost their second straight game in extra innings to the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies that his team is hoping to stay afloat until key players return to the Mets starting lineup. However, as the Mets patiently paddle along unchartered waters, other holes continue to spring up forcing a possible situation into nothing more than a desperate leap of faith. Along with dropping two of three to the Phillies, the Metropolitans will be heading up to the Bronx this weekend to take on their cross-town rivals, the Yankees, without one of their starting pitchers. Right-hander John Maine was placed on the 15-day disabled list following the game last night with what is being described as “shoulder fatigue.”

“Right now we’re going to hope that John Maine won’t be out for a long time,” Mets GM Omar Minaya said.

Up until now, Manuel was able to rely on the strong performances of his starting pitching to weather the storm. Before Maine’s latest setback, it was viewed as the one positive in a sea of negatives. Not only will the Mets have to decide on who will be pitching for them on Saturday evening but eventually they will have to answer the question as to who will be the one to pull in that anchor and complement, David Wright and Carlos Beltran.

“With the way we’re built right now offensively, we have to have more than two guys swinging the bat,” Manuel said.

The Mets will be heading into this weekend’s series with the hope that tonight’s starter, right-hander Livan Hernandez, will continue to pitch strongly and help his team turn the tides.

Sheffield and Hernandez Revive the Old Saying: Age before Beauty

May 27, 2009

Mets GM Omar Minaya was the first to break the news prior to yesterday’s game that his shortstop, Jose Reyes, and his right fielder, Ryan Church, were heading to the disabled list retroactive to May 21st and May 23rd, respectively. With that, the possibility for the Mets most talked about prospect, Fernando Martinez, to get his chance at the big league level became a reality. The decision to grant Martinez, 20, the start in right field last night was also prompted by the Mets inability to use their everyday center fielder, Carlos Beltran. Beltran underwent an MRI yesterday which revealed a bone bruise and inflammation of his right tibia that will keep him out of action for at least until Friday’s game against the Florida Marlins. Martinez was hit by a pitch and finished the night 0 for 3 with a RBI.

As Mets fans and the New York media rejoiced over the thought of witnessing the young Martinez on a daily basis, Mets clean up hitter Gary Sheffield, almost twenty years his senior, provided the real firepower in leading the Mets to a 6-1 victory over the Washington Nationals. Sheffield, who is batting .419 over his last ten games, slammed a three-run homerun for the second time in as many nights well over the left-field wall. Unlike last night’s three-run shot, there was no doubt in the validity of this one. Sheffield’s 504th career homerun put the Mets up by five runs and allowed for their starter, Livan Hernandez, to go the distance and pick up his fourth win of the season. Hernandez, 34, is 3-0 in his last five starts. He has pitched 33 and a third innings during that stretch averaging almost seven innings a start.

Tonight the Mets go for the sweep with their ace, Johan Santana, on the mound against the Nationals young right-hander, Jordan Zimmermann. On April 26th, Zimmermann pitched five and a third innings against the Mets. He gave up just one earned run and earned his second win of the season. Since then, he has been mired with four no-decisions and a loss in five starts. He currently has a 2-1 record and a 5.71 ERA.

Mets Dugout Beginning to Resemble a Hospital Waiting Room

April 23, 2009

If Mets manager Jerry Manuel had been the only surgeon on-call at the now defunct St. John’s Hospital, he would have had his hands full attempting to explain why his team died on the operating table. Wednesday night’s suffocating defeat at the hands of the Cardinals was yet another setback on the road to recovery. St. Louis starting pitcher Joel Pinero managed to pitch his way into the ninth inning as if he were administering Novocain to the Mets’ bats in tiny little droplets and lulling them to sleep.

Aside from Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran, you would have thought that SNY’s broadcast last night was made to showcase Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa’s latest reclamation project. By witnessing another DOA-performance by one of his starters, Mets Pitching Coach Dan Warthen looked a tad queasy and could be seen exhibiting acute erratic behavior on his way back to the dugout. Could you blame him? He now has to phone his beloved wife and tell her that he will most likely be working overtime this weekend.

With a day-game-after-a-night scheduled for today before the Mets fly back to Citi Field, the team has requested a second opinion on their recent diagnosis. Hoping to avoid a sweep, the Mets will call on Livan Hernandez to jumpstart their flagging confidence and revive any notion of a heartbeat before Mets fans decide to pull the plug prematurely.

For Minaya, Hernandez Has Always Been an Option

March 21, 2009

As the Mets inch closer and closer towards opening day on April 6th in Cincinnati, those who will round out their pitching staff are quickly coming into focus. With the recent departure of 22-year-old left-hander Jonathon Niese, who will be starting his season at Triple-A Buffalo, it almost all but assures the fifth spot in the rotation to veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez. But if you ask him, he will tell you that he’s not so sure.

“Nobody has told me. I’m still waiting to see what happens,” the 34-year-old right-hander said.

Perhaps the reason for the Mets’ hesitation in handing over the fifth-starter job to Hernandez is because when they signed the right-hander to a Minor League contract he was considered a third option. With the ineffectiveness of righty Freddy Garcia and the fact that Tim Redding, also a right-hander, will be opening up his regular season on the disabled list, Hernandez has become the team’s only option.

So far this spring, Hernandez has performed well. In 14.2 innings pitched, the most on the staff thus far, he has struck out seven batters and his five earned runs has produced a 3.07 ERA. However, in that time, he has surrendered 14 hits. GM Omar Minaya has always had a soft spot for the Cuban-born right-hander. Hernandez played under Minaya when he was the general manager of the Montreal Expos. Minaya was also interested in the right-hander during the 2007 off-season.

“Livan can give you innings; he can pitch in different roles,” Minaya said.

The Mets were looking to fill an opening in their starting rotation that year caused by the departure of left-hander Tom Glavine who had just signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves. Eventually, the team would go on to acquire lefty Johan Santana.

Starting Rotation Has Its Share of Ups and Downs

March 7, 2009

Along with every Mets fan’s morning coffee is the daily task of checking on the status of their left-handed ace, Johan Santana. With so much emphasis being placed on the notion of whether he is or isn’t in line to make this season’s opening day start, fans and media alike have distanced themselves from other burning questions concerning the Mets starting rotation. As disturbing as it is to imagine shaving off a piece of bone from the shoulder of right-hander John Maine during the off-season, it is just as gruesome to hear what he thinks of his progress thus far.

“I just don’t feel good out there, I don’t feel comfortable,” Maine said. “I’m trying to do something different mechanically every pitch and nothing’s working. I just feel terrible out there.”

Would somebody cheer this guy up? I think John may need a hug.

“I just didn’t think it would take this long,” Maine said. “I thought that after a few bullpens down here, a few games, stuff like that, I’d start feeling more comfortable. But that hasn’t been the case yet.”

Oh, boy. Can we get a tissue over here? I think Maine’s situation sounds serious.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel has repeatedly insisted that Santana’s elbow will be just fine. And the hubbub surrounding the two-time Cy Young award winner is just fluff for the back pages of NY newspapers. Okay Jerry, we get it, it’s time to move on and worry about other issues, like Jonathon Niese, the Mets young left-hander, who is among several other pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the Mets starting rotation.

Throughout Jonathon’s short baseball career, he has been reminded constantly of the significance in the date of which he was born, October 27, 1986. Ring a bell? It’s Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. The last time the Mets won a championship. Recently, WFAN’s Steve Somers asked him if anybody ever mentioned that to him, he shot back with, “way too many.” Niese seems to go about his business with more straightforwardness unlike his teammate, Mike Pelfrey. “Be consistent with all my pitches, stay healthy, get outs,” he said. Coincidentally, Niese is in the same position as Pelfrey was last year. He is fighting for a roster spot.

Somers attempted to squeeze an ounce of progress from the young left-hander’s abbreviated stay in the big leagues last year. He overstated that Niese showed much poise after serving up a beach ball to an opposing hitter. Niese responded with something perhaps his pitching coach might have told him, “Poise didn’t get me outs.” Somers was also heard cracking himself up by stating that Livan Hernandez, who is also competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, is old enough to be Niese’s grandfather. Hernandez is currently at the ripe old age of thirty-four. Don’t think so, Steve. Just because he pitched for the Montreal Expos doesn’t make him old enough to look back on his days of sharing a shower stall with such baseball greats as Musial, Williams, and DiMaggio.

Hernandez does have 381 starts for his career which gives the Cuban-born right-hander a lot of face time. Maybe that’s why he could be mistaken for an old-timer. If you read the NY Times, they’ll tell you the job belongs to right-hander Tim Redding. Why? The Mets spent $2.25 million on him. Case closed. And Freddy Garcia? The last time I checked the veteran pitcher’s line, it read, “Freddy Garcia was battered again. Unable to keep his fastball down, he allowed four runs — he allowed two home runs –in two innings.”

What does all this mean? It means the Mets organization has more confidence in Johan Santana’s side bullpen sessions than it does in its fourth and fifth starters’ chances of making an immediate impact.

Front Office Shows Their Faith is in Numbers

February 15, 2009

“I’ve had to make teams every year I’ve gone into spring training,” said Jeremy Reed who joined the Mets in the 12-player deal which included relievers, J.J. Putz and Sean Green.

Reed is among a well-travelled group of players who are working hard this spring in hopes of cracking the Mets opening-day roster. Most recently, the Mets have tendered veteran infielder Ramon Martinez and perennial innings-eater Livan Hernandez to minor league deals. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 36 year-old Martinez, he burst onto the Mets scene during a late-season series against the Florida Marlins in which he came through with a clutch RBI double helping the Mets to a 2-0 win. That win would ultimately place the Mets in a dead tie with the Milwaukee Brewers on the last day of the 2008 season to compete for the NL Wild Card spot.

Livan Hernandez, 34, a right handed pitcher who has been on the Mets radar since the 2006 season, now joins three other pitchers, Freddy Garcia, Tim Redding, and rookie left-hander Jonathon Niese for a chance at the fifth and final spot in the Mets starting rotation.

“I just feel we need to have numbers,” Mets GM Omar Minaya said. Minaya has stated that he prefers to have eight to ten starters available at any given time once the season begins.

World Series winner and All-star right-hander, Freddy Garcia, is not accustomed to competing for a starting role and perhaps is feeling some pressure with the mounting participants vying for the same prize.

“I expect to be in the rotation,” Garcia said. “If not, I’ll have to go somewhere else.”

Since December of last year, the list for formidable starters has continued to grow. At the time of his signing, right-hander Tim Redding was considered at the top of the list. However, under these current circumstances, he has moved down the ladder as more and more decorated hurlers have been thrown into the fray.

Depending on the depth of the Mets bullpen, the team will most likely carry four bench players. Assuming that Fernando Tatis is considered your everyday left fielder, one of those spots will be allocated for young Daniel Murphy and a back-up catcher leaving two possibilities coming off the bench. That number could reduce to one if the Mets decide to accept back-up infielder Alex Cora for their opening day roster.

With just one spot to fill, Jeremy Reed, Cory Sullivan, Nick Evans, Angel Pagan, and Marlon Anderson may be asked to draw straws. Evans, Pagan, and Anderson have some history with the Mets. However, Reed’s ability to play all three outfield positions may give him the edge.

If you recall, injuries depleted the Mets outfield the last two seasons. When right fielder Ryan Church and veteran Moises Alou were grounded for extended periods of time, the Mets were forced to scramble for replacements. Some of the names that come to mind are journey-man, Jeff Conine, and every-man, Trot Nixon.

Taking into account the popular theory that the house always wins, possessing a large cadre of players should at least give the Mets some assurance in breaking even.