Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Real Livan Hernandez

Twins 12, Rangers 6
Rangers 10, Twins 0

I knew he was lurking around the clubhouse somewhere. It was only a question of where he would show up. Answer: in the West. In his two starts on this road trip, Livan Hernandez went just 8.2 IP, allowing 11 ER, 16 H, 3 BB, 5 K. His season ERA stands at 5.05, his WHIP at 1.46, his BAA at .310.

And April is his "good" month.

If only someone had wanted to trade for him after three starts. Now, he'll probably have to be ignominiously released sometime next month once the team is comfortable promoting Kevin Mulvey, Brian Duensing or Francisco Liriano. Livan's been better than Liriano, and with Kevin Slowey injured, it was good to have him around, I guess. But I think that once he's released after 10-12 starts for a younger pitcher who performs consistently better, we'll be asking ourselves the same thing we asked about Ponson, Ortiz and Batista: why was it necessary to suffer through two months of mediocrity/incompetence when better prospects were available in the system? I hope this is the year the Twins finally learn their lesson.

As for the offensive side of things, it was great to see everything click on Saturday, especially a HR from Cuddyer in just his second game back. I preferred Mauer in the #2 slot, but Harris has been having good enough ABs that he's a good choice for that spot as well. At least Mauer will be hitting behind somebody with an OBP north of .300. Moving Delmon Young down in the lineup is also a good move at this point - until he starts popping doubles and homers, he's not much protection for Morneau. Good to see Lamb starting to heat up.

On Sunday, maybe Livan's lugubrious suckitude took everybody out of the game mentally, but it was disheartening to see the offense let Vicente Padilla pitch a CG shutout against them. Particularly upsetting was the fact that they forced him to throw 23 pitches in the first inning, but just 98 pitches over the next 8. Jason Kubel is largely to blame, flying out on the first pitch of the 2nd to set up a 6-pitch inning. I love Kubel, but he hacks at the first pitch way too often in situations where a little grinding patience would serve the team better.

Kevin Slowey was excellent in his second start in Fort Myers, allowing only a walk in 5 IP. Clearly, he's too good for Single-A: in 8 IP he allowed just 1 ER on 1 H and 1 BB. He's on target to start Thursday for Rochester, and if he looks good there, he'll be in line to start in Chicago the following week. That will be a big lift for the Twins' battered rotation.

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