I find the amount of talk swirling around this team's fanbase about trading away Livan Hernandez. I partially blame the borderline evil hack-job that Liriano's agent and Fox News did on Hernandez's stats (which I'll try to find time to break down a bit later).
But I also blame the idiocy about the fanbase. Consider this comment on a Star Trib article about the probable failure of a trade to bring Adrian Beltre to Minnesota. From the accidently appropriately monikered "loonman", we get this bit of wisdom:
[Twins GM] "Nibblenuts Smith can deal Hernandez and his 5 mil salary and his ten wins already to orioles who need pitching and [Aubrey] Huff a power hitting3B is perfect for Twins...he also can play first of and DH.This way we keep all young arms and call up Liriano who is red hot(7-0) in triple A and than he can replaced Hernandez and the starting 5 remains intact."
And um, the Orioles are going to trade a quality 3rd baseman for a veteran pitcher when they already have absolutely nothing to play for this year? Why would the Orioles be looking for veteran pitchers now? "Loonman" and a good chunk of the Twins Nation (I'm sure it is true for every other team's fan base as well) seem to never think twice about the fact that the trade has to be good for the other team, too. Hence, Seattle wanting at least one of the younger arms on the Twins--they too are out of it this year, and are looking for young, but at least somewhat tested talent, which is what the Twins rotation is all about. Again, aside from Hernandez, this is a ridiculously young rotation--outside of Scotty Baker, did any of these guys have more than 5 starts for the Twins last year? Blackburn, Slowey, and Perkins are hardly established guys. They are practically rookies. You simply can not watch a Twins game on Fox Sports North and not have Bert Blyleven discussing how important it is to have a crafty veteran like Hernandez on the team. So trade him now, while his value is high, for young offensive power? The only team that is going to want him is a team in a situation like the Twins--which should tell you everything about how stupid the idea is. And, just a reminder, the Twins are in the Top 5 teams in the league for runs scored. Do they need power that badly?
But just to be clear, Livan Hernandez isn't a true "ace" on this squad. No one is--for most of the other pitchers it is more of "not yet" situation, and obviously, for Livan it is, "not any more", but let's be reasonable here, people. Throw away, for argument's sake, his disastrous last start before the All-Star break against Boston, where he gave up 6 runs in under 5 innings.
A start previous to that, against Cleveland, he gave up earned 3 runs in 6 innings--the baseball dictionary definition of a quality start.
Against Milwaukee, he gave up 4 earned runs in 7 innings, but the Twins only scored 1 run, so that loss hangs on the offense, really.
Against the Diamondbacks and the Nationals, he pitched 7 innings and gave up one Earned run each game.
Essentially, for the past month, the guy has been the inning eater that the Twins were hoping for--which what makes Fox Sports "senior" writer Ken Rosenthal's hit job all the more galling: "The most vulnerable member of that group is Hernandez, who has a 7.28 ERA in the past 10 starts. Hernandez, 33, is owed the balance of his $5 million salary. The Twins could trade him, but his recent performance has not helped his value."
Nevermind that his ERA, taken over his last 5 starts is about half of that 7.28. Nevermind that he is 8-1 at the Metrodome. Nevermind he's the only guy to win 15 games in a season in the entire rotation. Nevermind he's pitched at least 200 innings every year for the last 10 years (aside from that one year when he pitched 199 2/3rd innings). TRADE HIS ASS!
Here's a crazy idea--take a reliever, like Brian Bass, with his well over 5.0 ERA, and send him down to Rochester, move Nick Blackburn to the bullpen, and bring in Liriano whilst keeping the only savvy veteran who is producing at all on the active roster. (yeah, I'm looking at you, Craig Monroe and Mike Lamb)