Dave Littlefield continued his thirsty quest to add a 2004/2005 Hideo Nomo clone to the roster and achieved that today by acquiring Cuban defector Yuslan Herrera.
Herrera, 25, 6′ 2" and 200 lbs, has been out of baseball for awhile because of a "nasty" suspension he received (caught trying to defect possibly?). So nasty I couldn’t even find the reason for it.
In 2002, and as a 21-year old, he was a reliever for the "pine on the river" (Pinar del Rio) club where he had an 8.31 ERA in 17 innings of work, walking 8 and striking out 8. Not a very good ratio to be sure. In 2003, he started a few games and did about as poor a job. In 2004 he was left off the Cuban roster for the Olympics because of an injury.
Like Nomo, he is a ‘fringy’ fastball (88 – 92 mph), sinker, and plus curveball pitcher. While that sounds good, Herrera is projected to be a #4 starter in his best years and probably a #5 or #6 in the NLCD. His batting average allowed was over .340 in Cuban ball and I’m sure he won’t do much better than that at PNC Park.
I see this as a PR signing to sell tickets. He is a guy who the fans can put some hope behind because they don’t know anything about him but who has trouble finding the plate like Perez and trouble giving up home runs like Fogg.
On top of that, the Pirates field one of the worst defensive teams in major league baseball so, to add another pitcher that forces the Pirates to rely on the conversion of balls in play to outs, is simply a joke, especially in the vast confines of PNC.
To top it off, he is yet another sinkerball pitcher who never pitched in cold weather. Putting him on the mound in April and May in Pittsburgh and expecting his sinker to sink will be like asking Jason Bay to catch. Forget it. Then add on the fact he hasn’t pitched in two years and Littlefield expects him to make the rotation in 2007 is just plain nuts.
Unless Littlefield expects to add this cat to the pen in 2007, I don’t understand why we even wasted our time signing him. If Herrera is our magical new right hand starting pitcher for 2007, we are in deep do-do.