Hernandez adds pop at catcher
After waiting longer than an entire work week in San Diego, the Padres acquired Ramon Hernandez and Terrence Long for Mark Kotsay. Catcher has long been a sore spot for the Padres and Hernandez has caught for the best pitching staff in the Majors for the last four years.
The real skinny on Hernandez:
Ramon Hernandez was the big “catch” for the San Diego Padres. He provides a solid bat behind the plate and is known for his handling of young pitchers, an invaluable and often underrated aspect of catching.
The positives are:
He is 27, in his prime, and coming off the best season of his career
He has handled a young pitching staff effectively for four years (a 3.51 ERA over the last three seasons)
He adds some pop from the catcher’s spot, sour grapes in San Diego for years
No Padres catcher in ’03 had a higher on base percentage than Hernandez
Padres’ catchers had seven home runs last year, equivalent to two months of Hernandez
His OPS was close to 100 points higher than any Padres catcher
He threw out 33% of base stealers as opposed to the 26% Padres catchers in ’03 had
He hit .292 with runners on base, .266 if they were in scoring position
His highest batting average came in the seven hole, .294, .375 OBP, where he is expected to bat in San Diego
He is a .446 hitter with runners on third throughout his career, .378 in situations with less than two out and a runner on third
He batted .301 in situations where he could have hit into a double play
General Manager Billy Beane acknowledged Wednesday that Hernandez's "best days are probably still ahead of him.''
Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito termed Hernandez "invaluable”.
The odd category:
He hit right-handers better than he hit lefties, .302 to .208
The not so good category:
He hit .083 at Pac Bell last year in 12 at bats and is .162 lifetime
He hit just .228 with runners in scoring position and two outs
He has little speed and grounded into 14 double plays last year
He bat just .248 in the seventh inning or later
He hit just .167 when he was in a 3-1 count, one that heavily favors the hitter and is .213 lifetime
He is a .230 hitter in day games through his career
Indoor games are not his friend, a .205 career hitter indoors
Notes and Quotes:
“I've got to get on with life and go to San Diego and hope to do what I did in Oakland,” Hernandez said. “I think it will be an adjustment, but after two weeks, it's baseball."
"I think Ramon was a big part of the A's pitching development," Kevin Towers said.
Towers is hoping the same will hold true in San Diego. Despite recent reports, the trio of Brian Lawrence, Jake Peavy and Adam Eaton will stay together. Peavy and Eaton have a chance to develop into star material and it is one of the reasons Towers targeted Hernandez.
Word is Hernandez was his preference to AJ Pierzynski, but at the time Towers did not think Oakland would trade him.
Now that Rod Beck has re-signed, the team will focus on one more lefty reliever and a few starting pitchers. Ricardo Rincon tops the list and Towers has been in touch with his camp, letting them know that they are very interested if Oakland does not offer arbitration. As of this printing, we were unable to confirm his status.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org