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11/12/07 Livan Hernandez, Bartolo Colon or Jason Jennings?

     In the final paragraph of his article "Nationals' President Meets With A. Jones," washingtonpost.com baseball writer Barry Svrluga furthers the notion put forth by Team President Stan Kasten and Washington GM Jim Bowden, that the Nationals will pursue any and all possible player moves this winter, by noting that in addition to the contact made with center fielders Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand and Andruw Jones, steps have been taken to address the Nationals other glaring weakness, starting pitching.

     The three names Mr. Svrluga mentions...Livan Hernandez, Jason Jennings and Bartolo Colon. While Jennings has no prior connection to the team, Hernandez and Colon both have some history with the franchise. Hernandez arrived in Montreal along with Edwards Guzman in return for Matt Blank and Jim Brower in 2003, and stayed for over three seasons collecting a (50-43) record, and Bartolo Colon came over from the Indians, along with Tim Drew, for a few months (17 starts, 10-4 record), in return for Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore in 2002.

     Livan Hernandez will be thirty-three years old when the 2008 season starts in April. In his 12 Major League seasons, the soft-tossing right-hander has pitched 2,371 innings on the hill. Last season in Arizona, Hernandez struggled late, going (2-2) in 5 starts over just 27.0 innings in September, but finished the season (11-11) in 33 starts with a 4.93 ERA on the year, and made two starts in his first Postseason appearances since 2002.

       After a good NLDS outing in which Hernandez lasted 6.0 innings against the Chicago Cubs and allowed just 1 run on 5 hits, Livan was the losing pitcher in his NLCS start against the Colorado Rockies, surrendering 4 runs on 8 hits in 5.2 innings in the mile-high Coors Field air, for the third of four straight losses which ended Arizona's season and it's contract with Hernandez.

     Bartolo Colon, who will be thirty-five in 2008, has made just 28 starts in the past two seasons, after starting over 30 games in every season from 1998-2005. Colon had two stints on the DL in 2007 for elbow and shoulder issues, and was left off the Angels Postseason roster after experiencing pain in his right elbow while pitching in September.

     Jason Jennings, who'll turn twenty-nine in July of 2008, hasn't had a winning season since going (16-7) with Colorado in 2002, and the 6'2'' 242 lb right hander went (2-9) in just 18 starts with the Houston Astros in '07, twice landing on the DL, first with right elbow tendinitis in April, and the second time with season-ending surgery on a torn flexor tendon in his pitching arm in late August.

     I could see that Nationals signing one of these three to get the veteran presence they have desired in the starting rotation, but of the three only Livan Hernandez really makes sense, while Jennings and Colon just have Brian Lawrence written all over them, a veteran pitcher, coming off injury, who is likely to sign and then spend the entire season on the DL rehabbing before moving on as a free agent?

     Hey! Tony Armas is a free agent too?

*Relevant Links*

Barry Svrluga's article "Nationals' President Meets With A. Jones" at washingtonpost.com:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/05/AR2007110501694.html

Livan Hernandez's stats at baseballreference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/h/hernali01.shtml

Bartolo Colon's stats at baseballreference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/colonba01.shtml

Jason Jennings stats at baseballreference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/j/jennija01.shtml

mlb.com's Astros writer Alyson Footer's article on Jason Jennings' season-ending injury at houston.astros.mlb.com:

http://houston.astros.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070821&content_id=2161892&vkey=news_hou &fext=.jsp&c_id=hou

espn.com's updated "Free Agent Tracker":

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/features/freeagents