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…. The wrong guy?

I’ve written a bunch of times about how I feel that Brian Sabean and the Giants made the wrong choice when they decided to trade Russ Ortiz and sign Kirk Rueter to a contract extension. My thinking at the time was fairly simple:

… I look at this Rueter extension, and I see a choice made by the Giants brass. They chose Rueter over Ortiz, and frankly, they did so in the face of what appears to me to be overwhelming evidence that they should have gone the other way. I’m not saying Woody isn’t a terrific player to have on your team. I’m just saying that I would take Ortiz over him, not by a ton, but it wouldn’t be too hard to pick the younger, bigger, stronger guy; who gives me more innings, strikes out more hitters, gives up fewer home runs, and who won as many or more games each of the last four seasons.

Since the Ortiz trade, he has almost twice as many wins, and many more strikeouts and innings pitched than Rueter. It is clear that his success has validated my initial analysis.

But there’s another pitcher from that 2002 World Series team that was traded (also for very little, by the way) prior to the 2003 campaign, and I was dead wrong about him. I’m talking about Livan Hernandez, who is currently 10-2, leading the league in innings pitched, and has taken on the mantle of ace of the Washington Nationals staff (something he strenuously resisted during his time in San Francisco). Washington manager Frank Robinson feels so confident in Hernandez, he doesn’t even mind starting him when he’s serving his suspension.

…. Robinson wisely chose Monday to serve his one-game suspension for his June 14 shouting match with Angels manager Mike Scioscia, letting bench coach Eddie Rodriguez run a game that Hernandez controlled until a three-run seventh inning.

Washington is 13-3 when Hernandez starts and he hasn’t lost in 12 starts since April 19.

“It makes it a little easier when Livan Hernandez is on the mound, and when you score runs, it makes it easier,” said Robinson, whose appeal of his suspension was denied earlier Monday. “But in the end, when it got a little tight, he [Rodriguez] made the right moves.”

Since he left San Francisco, all Hernandez has done is go 36-27, pitch 600 innings(!), and compile an ERA (3.38) more than a full run lower than what he managed while in orange and black (4.44).

Meanwhile Kirk Reuter has gone 21-23 since the start of the 2003 season. In that same span, Russ Ortiz has gone 40-22, and Livan’s gone 36-27. I guess you could say that Sabean could hardly have been more wrong in deciding the fates of these three pitchers. Add in the two closers we’ve thrown away each of the last two off-seasons, the old, decrepit players we’ve thrown millions and millions of dollars at, and I guess Sabean’s era of being a shrewd and calculating upper-echelon GM are over.


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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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