The signing of Livan Hernandez comes at a crucial point during the Braves offseason.
With Opening Day rosters not nearly set, and Hernandez recently getting released by the Houston Astros, the presence of the veteran pitcher could provide a number of questions to many, and answers to few as Spring Training nears its end.
What is Hernandez's purpose with the Braves?
With Tim Hudson out until late April, the pitching staff lacks a healthy veteran leader. Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are both coming off season where they didn't throw a pitch in September, and while Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy saw their fair share of action in 2011, it still does not suffice for the leadership Hernandez brings.
No reason to panic, while Hernandez's signing was unforeseen, he could provide the early season boost this team may need, especially with his experience in the NL East.
Where does he fit into the Braves plans?
I see this with the mindset the Braves have with Kris Medlen.
He may be known more as a starter, but Fredi Gonzalez and Roget McDowell might think of bringing him out of the bullpen for long and/or middle-inning relief.
In his 17 year career, the 37-year-old Cuban defector has thrown 200-innings 10 times, leading the NL in that category from 2003-05. He signed a one-year deal worth $750,000, and depending on his performance throughout the season, could double that with the bonus he signed.
But to Randall Delgado and Teheran, while this signing could mean their hopes of the 5th rotation spot have dwindled, it could do more than expected with Hernandez on board to give another Latin voice in the clubhouse.
How will Hernandez do for the Braves?
Having personally not seen him this spring, there are a lot of questions surrounding how he will do this season. With the Nationals in 2011, he went 8-13 with a 4.47 ERA in 29 starts.
But with the possibility that he could be an X-Factor in the rotation, it does bring a bit of excitement as April 5 nears.
The last day to finalize rosters is Wednesday, April 4.