Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Well Worth the Investment: Roberto Hernandez

Newly Acquired SP/RP Roberto Hernandez

On December 18, 2013 it was reported that the Phillies were indeed inking Roberto Hernandez to a 1 year deal with a base salary of $4.5 million.  Included in the deal, are several incentives of varying amounts based off the amount of innings pitched by Roberto in 2014.  Hernandez was coming off a rather poor 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays, turning in a 4.89 ERA at seasons end.  What he did provide the Rays with was innings every 5th day in the rotation.  This kind of pitcher was sorely missed on the 2013 Phillies' squad.  Going along with Bert's ability to eat up innings all year, he has a very healthy career 57.1% ground-ball rate, a stat that plays well within the confines of hitter friendly CBP.  I'd say the Phillies' front office realized that information, along with the fact the NL and more specifically the NL East is a much easier league & division to pitch in, and decided that Hernandez was their man for the 5th spot in the 2014 rotation.  

There was very minimal risk to this signing, if Hernandez did what they expected, then the Phillies found a cheap reliable 5th starter, if not, oh well he came cheap.  More so, if Roberto lived up to scenario one, and the Phillies' found themselves out of the play off picture, it wasn't too far fetched at the time of the signing to think (I felt this way about every FA signing this year) that they could turn around and deal Hernandez off for prospects (something other clubs have been doing for a few years now, see Cubs & Mets).  Amazingly, the Phillies' did just that and I was thrilled. 

While the Phillies sat on their hands through the July 31st trade deadline, but on August 7, after clearing Waivers, the Phillies and Dodgers struck a deal that would send the 6'4'' 230 lbs pitcher out to Hollywood to chase down a World Series.  In exchange? Two players to be named later (PTBNL), and or cash considerations.  This was it! I was jumping for joy, and we hadn't even gotten a player out of the deal yet, but the Phillies turned a cheap 1 year rebound signing into future players that could help the organization, who doesn't dig that.  By all means, Phillies fans should be taking this kind of deal as a positive sign from the Phillies front office.  With the big league club in shambles, rejuvenating the farm system is key, and making trades of this nature help do just that.  On the day of the trade it was announced that the two PTBNL would be low level minor leaguers.  This really wasn't a shock, after all we are talking about acquiring the services of Roberto Hernandez. 

 On August 16, after making two quality starts for the Dodgers (1-0, 12 IP, 6 hits, 4 BB, and 10 K's) the first of two PTBNL was announced in the deal.  Expecting some no name pitcher in low A ball, I was absolutely tickled when it was reported Jesmuel Valentin would be coming east and joining the Phillies organization.  Valentin is a legitimate 2B prospect, with MLB bloodlines and high draft pedigree (51st overall in 2012).  Per usual, scouts have various ideas of what kind of future player Valentin may be.  Some have the Puerto Rican carving out a utility infielder type career, while others feel he will eventually become an every day second basemen/number two hitter.  Either outcome is one I'm sure the Phillies will take.  Even if Valentin sputters and never makes it, this was a very good trade.  On a 1 year deal, Roberto wasn't helping the 2014 Phillies.  Valentin has a chance to help the Phillies for years to come either as a bench player or regular.  What makes this all that much sweeter is that the Phillies still have another player to choose from the Dodgers organization. Personally, I feel the acquisition of Valentin already makes this trade a win for the Phills, but I can't wait to see what comes next. 

In 108 games for the Dodgers A ball team, Valentin batted .280/.349/.430 to go along with an 8.2 BB%/15.6 K%.  Valentin collected 22 2B, 9 3B, 7 HR, and went 24/31 on the base paths in his 2014 season with the Great Lakes Loons.  It is believed that Valentin will finish out his season with the Phillies' Advanced A ball team, the Clearwater Threshers.


Cole Miller, from Haddonfield, NJ, is currently a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel. Aspiring to be a baseball or basketball scout, Cole  has volunteered for the 43rd SABR convention, a large convention with many speakers and other events for baseball fans who enjoy the new age statistics being brought to baseball such as WAR (wins above replacement ). He currently also writes for the Phillies prospect website, Phillies' Minor Thoughts.

You can connect with Cole on Twitter @CParker_Miller and on LinkedIn here.

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