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Roberto Hernandez' "Special Role"


The most positive contribution Hernandez could make to these Pirates is helping Mike Gonzalez, he of the much talked about potential, get comfortable with his newfound role as the club's everyday closer.

Hernandez realizes as much.

The fact he has happily accepted such a duty is exactly why the Pirates brought him aboard for 2006.

"They mentioned to me that one of the things they wanted me to do is be around a lot for Mike Gonzalez because he has the potential to be a great closer... but he needs somebody around to pick him up when he's down and maybe kick his butt once in a while," Hernandez recalled his early talks about joining the Pirates with general manger Dave Littlefield and manager Jim Tracy.

Why can't the Pirates just let Gonzalez close, and hire competent coaches? How much money do they really need to spend on players who are supposed to teach Gonzalez? They spent $2.5 million last year on Jose Mesa, and now they're paying Hernandez $2.75 million. That's some expensive babysitting. Meanwhile, Gonzalez is nearly 28 years old. Does he really need a babysitter?