Phillies Sign Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona)

Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies have signed free agent pitcher Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona. Hernandez is 33 years old and has spent seven season with the Indians before joining the Rays last season. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds that Amaro may not seek another pitcher to add into the rotation.

Hernandez has shown glimmers of promise over his eight-year career, but has mostly been a sub-replacement level starter, owning a career 4.67 ERA over exactly 1,100 innings of work. Last season with the Rays, he reached a career-high 17.6 percent strikeout rate and only walked six percent. Along with his penchant for avoiding the fly ball (53 percent ground ball rate), his 3.60 xFIP in 2013 was a career-best. His career average is 4.25.

Hernandez’s biggest problem has been the home run. 12.5 percent of fly balls he has allowed have cleared the fence, including a whopping 21 percent last season (24 total). Perhaps intentionally, given his ground ball rate, Hernandez strikes out far fewer batters when runners are on base as opposed to the bases being empty. In 2013, he struck out 75 batters in 381 plate appearances (20 percent) with no one on, but only 38 in 262 PA (14.5 percent) with runners on base. His control also suffers, with respective walk rates of four percent and eight percent.

Perhaps most striking is Hernandez’s platoon split. In 2013, he dominated right-handed hitters, holding them to a .668 OPS including just seven home runs in 291 PA. Left-handed hitters were another story, as they posted a .905 OPS against him with 17 home runs in 352 PA. Nine of them came on the sinker, four on the slider, and four on the change-up.

The platoon split has been a factor throughout Hernandez’s career, as his career split is .689 against right-handers and .814 against lefties. It would make more sense to use him in the bullpen as a right-handed specialist.

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reports that the deal is for one year. The salary has yet to be disclosed [Update: $4.5 million with $1.5 million incentives, per Dierkes] […] the Phillies could have done worse, like getting locked into a five-year deal with Matt Garza or overpaying for Bronson Arroyo.

With Hernandez in tow, the Phillies appear to be set with a rotation that includes Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Kyle Kendrick, and Hernandez with Jonathan Pettibone ready to fill in at a moment’s notice.

Update: More on the incentives:

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  1. hk

    December 17, 2013 06:27 AM


    I’m glad LTG did the leg-work on the Player A vs. Player B comparison before I had a chance to respond. His explanation about CBP and the Phillies defense in 2012 vs. 2013 brings a lot of clarity to how Hamels’s two different seasons ERA-wise resulted in him generating the same rWAR. And, LTG’s right about Cliff Lee demonstrating the soundness of the metric. Look at Cliff Lee’s 2012 and 2013 seasons. In 2012, Lee had a 3.16 ERA / 128 ERA+. In 2013, Lee had a 2.87 ERA / 133 ERA+. On paper, it looks like Cliff’s 2013 was a little better than his 2012, but when you factor in the park and the defense, the story changes and suggests that Lee’s 2013 was even more remarkable than some of us give him credit for as his rWAR increased by more than 60% from 2012 to 2013.

  2. hk

    December 17, 2013 06:53 AM


    Studies have shown an ~86% correlation between teams’ actual wins and the sums of the WAR of the teams’ players added to a baseline WAR given to a hypothetical team of replacement players. Therefore, WAR is not nearly perfect for answering your question about the WAR’s and wins of the 2011 and 2012 squads.

    One area where almost all WAR proponents have questions about the calculation is in the bullpen and a little research may provide some small part of the answer to your question. In 2011, Phillies relievers combined for a 3.45 ERA in 412.3 IP, but they only accumulated 1.5 fWAR. In 2012, all Phillies relievers combined for a 3.94 ERA in 418.3 IP, yet they accumulated 2.6 fWAR.

    There’s a straw man argument that many WAR opponents seem to use that suggests that WAR proponents believe that WAR is a be-all and end-all calculation. It’s not. It has it’s warts. However, it seems better than any other calculation for providing a description of how players performed compared to others at their respective positions. As others have pointed out on multiple occasions, WAR’s inadequacies in quantifying defense and defining replacement level make it impossible to say whether Andruw Jones or Ryan Howard provided more value in 2006.

  3. Larry

    December 17, 2013 07:34 AM

    Defensive runs saved by year for the Phillies, it was bad in 2011 as well. That year most of our starters had a great ERA, it is interesting to look at, where’s the correlation? Would Doc have a sub 2 ERA if his 2011 performance was in 2008?

    2007: +44
    2008: +77
    2009: +9
    2010: 0
    2011: -59
    2012: -8
    2013: -102

  4. Phillie697

    December 17, 2013 02:34 PM


    Why do people think money spent on a 1B can only be spent on 1B if they didn’t spend said money on the 1B in the first place? If your point is that RAJ wouldn’t know what to do with that money and would have spent it like an even bigger idiot, then why are you still arguing with me on RAJ’s “worth”? Dumb people are going to be dumb, you don’t say.

  5. Phillie697

    December 17, 2013 02:52 PM

    Names of some of the people we could have signed with Ryan Howard money these past two years that would have significantly upgraded the team:

    Carlos Beltran
    Yoenis Cespedes
    Edwin Encarnacion
    Hiroki Kuroda
    Anibal Sanchez
    Aramiz Ramirez
    Jose Reyes
    Nick Swisher
    Josh Willingham (his 2012 alone would made him as productive as Ryan Howard, and at a much cheaper price)
    Michael Bourne
    Zack Greinke
    Adamn LaRoche
    Shane Victorino (we could have kept him)

    Should I keep going?

  6. Phillie697

    December 17, 2013 02:54 PM

    To clarify, the “Dumb people are going to be dumb” comment is referring to RAJ, not anyone on these comments.

  7. hk

    December 17, 2013 03:28 PM

    Not to mention, if they had waited and watched as Howard declined, they might have ended up re-signing Howard, but at much more reasonable terms.

  8. Pencilfish

    December 18, 2013 11:57 AM


    It’s hard to argue when you come up with a list of players that would have helped post-2011, already knowing their stats in 2012 and 2013. Why didn’t you include Ryan Madson there, knowing his 2011 stats, without having the foresight of his injury in 2012?

    Since Howard is considered such a non-factor in 2012 and 2013, to whom do people attribute the Phillies 21-win plunge in 2012 (compared to 2011) and the additional 8-win plunge this year?
    Until people come with arguments that convincingly show that the Phillies mounting losses are not significantly correlated with Howard’s injuries, I view these calculations about fWAR suspiciously.

    If Howard remains healthy and productive at age 34 in 2014, and the Phillies record improve with this admittedly deeply flawed roster, it would seem to prove my point.

  9. Pencilfish

    December 18, 2013 12:05 PM


    I’m referring to Howard’s expected production post-2011 if he was healthy, where I assume ~600 AB’s, 30+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s. There simply isn’t that many people out there that produce like that.

  10. Pencilfish

    December 18, 2013 03:52 PM


    I don’t disagree the Phillies could have chosen another path instead of giving Howard a 5-yr deal way before any negotiations were required. My point is, we could not replace him one-to-one with anything but Pujols or Fielder when the 5-yr deal was struck in 2010. Howard’s value is in hitting, not in fielding and certainly not in running.

    Some have cited advance metrics to show that Howard isn’t all that valuable. Yet these metrics are inconsistent with his numerous awards (ROY, MVP, top 5 MVP 3 times, 3-time AS, etc — an indication of what fans and writers think of him) and his 30+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s production from 2006 to 2011.

  11. Phillie697

    December 18, 2013 04:11 PM


    I don’t accept the premise of your argument about Howard’s injuries because 1) it’s not like his injuries weren’t mounting up already before his extension even kicked in, and we were only stuck with said injury history because RAJ gave him his extension WAY WAY WAY too early, and 2) who cares about Howard’s injuries the last two years? If we didn’t have him, that would have been someone else’s problem.

    And no, I don’t agree with you that Howard’s “expected” production would have been on-par with what he’s getting paid for, or for that matter better than the “expected” production of many if not most of the players on that list I gave you. Any suggestion that Howard was “expected” to contribute more to this team than, say, Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran could have is patently ludicrous and just arguing for argument’s sake.

  12. hk

    December 18, 2013 04:55 PM


    The 21 win plunge from from 2011 to 2012 is explained by the fact that Halladay, Howard (due to his injury), Polanco, Victorino, Pence and Mayberry, Jr. all dropped off significantly and that Ty Wigginton, who was not on the 2011 roster, gave the team 360 PA’s worth of below replacement level performance.

  13. LTG

    December 19, 2013 05:50 PM


    You offer two defenses of Howard’s “productiveness” in 2010 and 2011. One of them requires down-playing two of the ways that runs are produced in baseball: baserunning and fielding. The other requires looking away from what happened on the field to other people’s opinions about what happened on the field. How are either of those responses relevant? Production is production. And other people’s opinions have to be checked with what actually happened. Arguments from authority are the worst kind of argument, said St. Thomas Aquinas, quoting Boethius.

    And why would you refer to Howard’s accomplishments prior to 2010 when the question is about replacing Howard in 2010 and 2011? Again, where’s the relevance?

    If all you are looking for is ~30 HR and ~100 RBIs, then here’s a list of non-Pujols-Fielder players who have done it in 2012 or 2013:
    Chris Davis
    Edwin Encarnacion
    Ike Davis
    Adam Dunn
    Paul Goldschmidt
    Mark Trumbo
    Adam Laroche

    And if you lighten the requirement a bit on RBIs because the run environment has decreased you can add Corey Hart and Brandon Moss. Chris Carter almost makes the cut too. Hell, Garrett Jones gets very close to making the cut.

    Not even by such an arcane standard–one that makes Ryan Howard not replaceable by Joey Votto!–is Howard nearly as irreplaceable in 2010 and 2011 as you suggest.

  14. Pencilfish

    December 20, 2013 11:19 AM


    When I say Howard’s production, I should have explicitly said “consistent production”. Some of the names you have on the list (Davis, Laroche, etc) have not been consistent. I should also emphasized that realistic replacements post-2011 (when Howard’s previous deal ran out). Who would have traded for Chris Davis pre-2012? Your list contains a significant amount of Monday-morning quarterbacking.

    Then, there’s Joey Votto. Yes, he replaces Howard in a fantasy baseball league. Suggesting the Reds would trade him for any of the prospects RAJ traded in the past few years is not grounded on any realistic scenarios.

  15. Pencilfish

    December 20, 2013 11:57 AM


    I’m not playing down baserunning and fielding. I am saying Howard value to the Phillis is his hitting.

    Then, you say production is production, which I assume is a reference to advanced metrics. You ignore what others say (his multiple awards) and traditional stats which are inconsistent with advanced metrics. Ignoring data that don’t fit your conclusion is hardly the best way to analyze an issue.

    As I said before, one has to put himself in the shoes of RAJ circa April 2010 (without knowledge of future events) and ask: should I give this guy a 5/125 deal 18 months before the existing deal expires, or should I let him walk and sign someone else to replace his expected production?

    Most people today argue it was a bad deal in hindsight because his injury kept him off the field for a big chunk of 2012 and 2013. Those who foresaw it being a vast overpay (which it increasingly does–and I won’t argue it) don’t understand the realities of the FA market and the dynamics of supply and demand.

  16. hk

    December 20, 2013 02:36 PM

    “As I said before, one has to put himself in the shoes of RAJ circa April 2010 (without knowledge of future events) and ask: should I give this guy a 5/125 deal 18 months before the existing deal expires, or should I let him walk and sign someone else to replace his expected production?”


    1. Why did RAJ have to make a decision in April 2010? He still had 18 months of exclusive negotiating rights to Howard. If he had waited one year, he would have seen that nagging injuries limited Howard to 620 PA’s in 2010 after he accumulated 703 PA’s in 2009 and maybe he would have thought to himself that extended him for his age 32 to 36 seasons at a premium was not a good idea.

    2. Wasn’t it faulty decision making to pay Howard for his age 32 through 36 seasons on the assumption that he would continue to produce like he did in his age 26 to 29 seasons?

    Methinks it was RAJ and those who defended (and continue to defend) the deal who did (do) not understand the realities of the FA market and the dynamics of supply and demand. Further they also did (do) not understand aging curves, the increasing likelihood of older players to get injured, position scarcity and the importance of base running and defense.

  17. Scott G

    December 20, 2013 02:39 PM


    The awards don’t necessarily mean anything. People (who, generally speaking, are biased) vote on them. People gave Derek Jeter gold gloves because he’s an exceptional hitter and DESPITE the fact that his fielding ability has always been below average. It’s a bad example to cite what people vote for as proof of what’s ACTUALLY valuable.

    Also, why did RAJ only have 2 options (sign him 18 months early, or let him walk)? He could have let the contract play out more and sign him mid-way through Howard’s walk year. A lot of things can happen over that time period. Howard could have an injury or two. The Phillies could draft, sign, or trade for a potential replacement that could allow them to let Howard walk.

  18. Pencilfish

    December 23, 2013 02:59 PM

    hk, Scott G,

    I don’t argue that RAJ jumped the gun in signing Howard 18 months ahead of time or that RAJ overpaid, but he correctly foresaw the even worse overpays for Pujols and Fielder. Choo reportedly agreed to a 7yr/130M deal. Is that overpay? What about Cano, Ellsbury, Nolasco, Peralta and Vargas?

    The reality of the FA market is summarized by the names above. The biggest misunderstanding is on the question of “overpay”. FA = overpay. Since no one has provided a credible (and financially more affordable) alternative to Howard, the Phillies would have overpaid if Howard walked. Maybe that was RAJ’s calculation in April 2010.

    The recurring themes of overpay and jumping the gun overshadow a much more fundamental question: Can the Phillies (even with realistic reinforcements) post a winning record without Howard’s bat? I haven’t seen anyone convincingly show that Howard’s production is irrelevant, healthy or otherwise.

    “The awards don’t necessarily mean anything. People (who, generally speaking, are biased) vote on them”

    Many contracts have incentives tied to these awards, so they certainly mean something. When judging a player’s value, I believe one has to look at the totality, including awards given to them by peers and writers.

  19. hk

    December 23, 2013 04:28 PM


    Yes, by nature of winning the bidding for free agents, teams almost always overpay. The amount by which they overpay is the issue. The Choo, Ellsbury, Nolasco, Peralta and Vargas deals don’t come close to the magnitude of the Howard overpay, which is made worse by the fact that Howard wasn’t even close to being a free agent when it happened.

    LTG and Phillie697 have both offered many credible alternatives to Howard including saving money at 1B and spending it elsewhere to make the team better. I also suggested that, while the Fielder deal is an overpay, it’s not as bad of one as the Howard extension. Therefore, Fielder rates as a credible altnerative. If you choose to ignore the fact that Howard’s poor defense and base running negate much of his offensive production, there’s no point in going on further with this discussion.

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