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Livo: Alive and well

Jul 22, 2010, 8:58 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Livan Hernandez was thoroughly efficient in his complete-game win.

CINCINNATI — How many times has Livan Hernandez's career been declared dead? Two? Three? Four?

It happened when he was traded from Florida to San Francisco in 1999. It happened when he was traded from San Francisco to Montreal in 2003. It happened when the Nationals dealt him to Arizona in 2006. And it happened pretty much the last two winters as Hernandez trolled around for jobs, unable to secure the kind of contract you'd expect for a pitcher of his stature.

One of these days, Livo should appear on one of those reality shows in which people who cheated death share their stories of survival. He'd get great ratings.

The lack of respect around baseball for Hernandez bothers the big right-hander. He doesn't quite understand it. But make no mistake: It also fuels him to do his best every time he takes the ball.

"My friends and my teammates are always like, 'You're a really good pitcher. You can pitch.'" Hernandez said. "But I've got to show some different people. I'm not dumb. I go outside every time I pitch and think about that. It helps me a lot."

That extra motivation certainly was present today as Hernandez authored the latest in a growing list of pitching gems: A complete-game, 7-1 victory over the Reds on an absolutely swelteringRead more ยป

  1. Kevin Rusch - Jul 22, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    Great article, Mark. Now, in 29 teams' defense, he _stunk_ while his knee was bothering him. And because there seemed to be so much question about his age (which I think is a legitimate question) and he wouldn't talk about his knee, it's hard to know if the bad performance is a balky knee or a career decline.

  2. Anonymous - Jul 22, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    I hope he goes to the HOF. Love the guy; he's a Nat for life in my book.

  3. Richard in BB - Jul 22, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    I Fully agree with anon. He's the most RELIABLE pitcher on this staff! We were lucky Rizzo gave in and re-signed him. He's been our best chance to win all year, and his record SHOULD be a lot better than it is, for sure.

  4. David - Jul 22, 2010 at 9:46 PM

    Livo has the heart of a lion. Long live Livo the lionhearted!

  5. Anonymous - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    MVP for this team …

  6. Anonymous - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    The guy isn't telling the truth about his age … how can you expect him to tell you the truth about his knee? At least this year he is the master again … if he weren't I should think the Orioles and Diamondbacks would have some real competition for last place.

  7. phil dunn - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:15 PM

    Hats off to Livan! He's a true professional.

  8. Dryw - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    Great post on a remarkably underrated player. FWIW, only 8 guys in the NL have 2 or more complete games, and a lot of them have names like Halladay and Jiminez. Not bad company to be keeping in any statistical category.

  9. Cuba Libre - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    As usual Livo delivers…Vivo Livo, Vivo Maya, Vivo El Duque!!!

  10. Anonymous - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Extend Livo's contract. Now!

  11. natsfan1a - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

    Livo had me at "Play ball" in 2005, and he hasn't lost me yet. His complete game shutout is one of my fave in-person games this year. Love ya, Livo! Who cares what the haters think?

  12. Anonymous - Jul 22, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    Let's see, 102 pitches get you a complete game from Livo and 94 pitches gets you 5 2/3 from Strasburg…that is right Willie Harris, Livo is historical, I hope Little Stephen was taking notes!

  13. Anonymous - Jul 22, 2010 at 11:18 PM

    Good story Mark, but I think you're wrong about Livo's options this winter. Livo wasn't hitting 85 for the past two years. Today he was popped 88 a few times. Now that he's proved he's healthy there will be offers. Nat'spos Fan

  14. Anonymous - Jul 22, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    I strongly suspect he'll come back to the Nats if they'll have him. He seems like he likes it in DC for whatever reason. Have to figure him as the fifth starter next year at the very least.

  15. The Nationals Enquirer - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:05 AM

    "How many times has Livan Hernandez's career been declared dead? Two? Three? Four?"> 15

  16. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    I think he stays next season, and not only for his own ability. I think with Maya coming on board, Livo plays an additional role as "mentor." Remember, that was Pudge's semiofficial role to Kid Flores when he came aboard. How's that working out? Imagine where we'd be with Wil Nieves catching 135 games. Who? Wil Nieves.Penciling in Livo for 30-32 starts next season among Jesus, Zimm'nn, Maya and whomever (Det, Marquis, Olsen, the cast of thousands from the Brady Bunch) would be just fine by me. And, I would imagine, Riggs too.

  17. Richard - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    Livo is a pleasure to watch. I wonder, too, where the Nats would be without him this year — and last September. I'm looking for the Nats to give him a much better contract soon.

  18. Doc - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:02 AM

    If Zim is the heart of the Nats, Livo is the soul. Viva Livan!!!!! Great article MarkMeister!

  19. Traveler8 - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:18 AM

    It's sneaking up on us – Livo, then El Duque, then Maya – by September the Cuban mafia will be in control.

  20. sjm105 - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    I agree with Sunshine. How could you get a better #5 starter and if some of the re-habs/prospects falter he is able to carry a bigger load. If our Cuban is the real deal, who better to mentor him? It's a no brainer, extend him now before other teams figure it out.

  21. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 5:17 AM

    I'd sign him to a 2-year deal, he's earned it. He can pitch into his 40s because he doesn't rely on velocity, just guile and location. Look at Jaime Moyer. People snub him because his pear shape, mellow attitude, and slow stuff. But, the fact is, he's still our #2 best starting pitcher and I won't believe we have anything better until someone proves it.

  22. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 6:21 AM

    Not to mention the enjoyment to be derived watching Livo field his position! A mentor in every way not just to Maya but to Stras also.

  23. SBrent - Jul 23, 2010 at 6:55 AM

    All that everyone's said, plus, don't forget, Livan is one of those few pitchers that can actually do a bit of damage with the bat. He may not be Albert Pujols with the bat, but he's also not an "automatic" out like so many NL pitchers. It's great when the pitcher can provide some offensive help, or keep a rally rolling.

  24. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 9:03 AM

    The Nats must sign him for the next two years. He'll be the veteran on the staff and will mentor the young bunch of pitchers. Not very easy to understand.

  25. Nats fan in NJ - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    From a hitter's perspective, how nasty must it be to face Strasburg one night then Livo the next? Could there be two more contrasting pitchers in baseball today?

  26. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Nicely done, MZ. Back in spring training it was clear he was the one reliable pitcher on the club. Regarding yesterday – how often would he do that with run support? Every time. Lol

  27. Jim Webster - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    Livo's greatest accomplishment: turning this gaggle of (mostly) naysayers into cheerleaders. Viva Livo. Bring on the Havana Nats.

  28. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    The Havanna Nats indeed! Let's get a little pipeline going between DC and Cuba. It would be nice to have that little "in."

  29. Anonymous - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Who cares how old he is? He performs. That's the deal.

  30. Brian - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Mark: As much as we all love Livo, do you have any scoop about other teams wanting him for their stretch runs? the trade talk to date has centered round Dunn, Hammer, and possibly Capps and Guzman, but it's all silent on the Livo front. Could he get dealt?

  31. greg - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    i was one of the "don't sign livo" crowd and i'm happy to admit i was wrong.obviously it's all about his health. when he wasn't right, he wasn't good. hopefully he can stay healthy, because he's a useful pitcher when he's healthy.when he's not, he doesn't have the stuff to overcome it. but i'm glad he's back and healthy.

  32. josh f - Jul 23, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    The dirty baseball on my bookshelf that Livo autographed a few weeks ago looks beautiful this morning. I admit I didn't want him back at the beginning of the season either, but boy has he proved me and a bunch of people wrong. Go Nats!

  33. Raff - Jul 23, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    While the hardcore statheads don't have a lot of love for Livo, when you look at his recent career, you see a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy who gives you the chance to win in at least 2/3s of his starts — the same as many high-priced and high-profile #2 starters.Livo's age is working against him, but his remarkable career health, coupled with his obvious pitching intelligence, means he could be a solid Jamie Moyer-like pitcher, delivering 10-15 wins on his own and 20-25 opportunities for the Nats to win, for half a dozen more years.Give him $15 mill for two years.

  34. A DC Wonk - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    This is so disconcerting! How can we rail against Rizzo when you do thing like point out stuff like this! Or that at-the-time criticized draft pick of Storen last year. Or, or, or . . . (snark mode off)

  35. Theo S. - Jul 23, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Assuming Marquis (All-Star last year) at $15 MM for two years to be the Opening Day starter represents the market, Hernandez does not get the same deal. He might be worth $4-$5 MM a year. The Nats have so many second-line pitchers — serviceable though sometimes brittle — e.g., Marquis, Wang, Lannan, Detweiler, Atilano, Stammen, Martin, maybe Martis and Mock, and now throw Maya into the mix, that Hernandez's highest value for the next couple of years is as trade deadline inventory. So long as he stays healthy, he'll always fetch good value from a contending team.

  36. Rip in BB - Jul 23, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Livo makes it FUN to watch a Nats game everytime he starts! Only one other pitcher on the staff gives us a chance to win every time out.I'm not sayin he should get Strasburg $–but he surely needs to be re-upped and with a HEFTY raise before the "Wolves" come calling.

  37. Sec3MySofa - Jul 23, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    I'm not saying it's fair, or what I'd do if it were mine to do, but I don't think the next best offer will be more than $2MM/y, and probably not more than $1.5MM, and a two-year deal from any other team would suprise me. I think the other GMs are doing what a lot of us here were doing all spring and summer, so far–just waiting for the next start to be the collapse/regression/wearing out of a guy who surprised us for a while.That said, I was adamantly in favor of signing him, so I have that going for me. Which is nice.

  38. greg - Jul 23, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    2/$15 for livo would be irresponsible. i'm all for resigning him if he stays healthy, but let's not be stupid about it.

  39. Raff - Jul 28, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Greg:"Let's not be stupid about it"? According to FanGraphs, based on his performance to date, Livo's value right now in the free-agent market would be $9 million per year, well above that of Edwin Jackson ($6.9m), whom the Nats are rumored to be pursuing. Livo's value is likely to decline a bit in the next two years, but 2/$15m is quite reasonable, not "stupid" or "irresponsible".

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