Miami MarlinsThis Day In Marlins History
On this day in Marlins history, July 25, 1999, the Florida Marlins dealt away a man whose most famous line was "I love you Miami!"
The Marlins had followed their 1997 World Series victory with a post-victory fire sale due to then-owner Wayne Huizenga's insistence that the club could not afford the payroll it had created. Despite the team's success, many of the big-name players of the team's past were dealt away. One name that stuck around because he was so popular was that of Livan Hernandez, the Cuban immigrant who was promoted from the minor leagues after signing with the Marlins in 1995. Hernandez spent two seasons in the minors before coming up the majors, but when he was promoted, he was an immediate success, winning his first nine decisions and posting a 3.18 ERA and a 3.57 FIP that season. He then capped off that 1997 season with a stellar performance in the NLCS and two winning starts in the World Series en route to MVP honors in both series.
But after 1997, Hernandez was left all alone, one of the few remnants remaining from the championship season and one of two "leaders" of the hapless 1998 Marlins rotation. But even that status would not last long.Hernandez only lasted one and a half more seasons with the Marlins, and they were not good years. After 1997, he posted a 4.73 ERA and 4.99 FIP, showing that some of that 1997 success was a mirage. In the middle of the 1999 season, the Marlins were faced with the likelihood of having to pay a former Rookie of the Year contender and World Series MVP arbtiration at the end of the year and decided to trade him instead. On this day, the Marlins sent Hernandez to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Nate Bump and Jason Grilli. Before the 1999 season, Grilli was a top prospect, ranked 44th in baseball by Baseball America. Bump was the Giants' fourth-best prospect by Baseball America.
Neither prospect amounted to much in the end. Bump stayed in the minors until 2003 and finished his major league career with just 148 innings worth of work at a 4.68 ERA primarily out of the bullpen. He was out of a major league job by 2005 and did not find baseball work again until 2008. Grilli made the majors for short stints in 2000 and 2001 but missed all of 2002 with injury. He recovered well with a strong 2003 season in Triple-A, but the Chicago White Sox drafted him in the Rule 5 draft. Since then, he has bounced around being unimpressive until the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, during which he has posted a 2.21 ERA and 3.09 FIP, thanks to a huge boost in strikeouts.
Meanwhile, Livan Hernandez had one good year with the San Francisco Giants before himself being traded for spare parts before the 2003 season. It was with his next team, the Montreal Expos / Washington Nationals, that he shined. He led the league in innings pitched each of the next three seasons while posting a 3.60 ERA and 4.07 FIP. He was never a spectacular pitcher in Montreal / Washington, but he carried the role of "staff ace" during the lean times in those seasons and did so while posting insane innings numbers for a current pitcher. In fact, Hernandez's claim to fame is that he posted eight straight 200-plus inning campaigns, falling just a third of an inning shy in 1999 of making it 10 straight from 1998 to 2007.
Hernandez never returned in a playing capacity to Miami, though he was invited among the "legends" of Marlins past in the last game of the team's time in Sun Life Stadium. He delivered his famous line once more, and we relived his 1997 season in our minds. But it was on this day, July 25, 1999, that Livan Hernandez's time as a Marlin officially came to an end.