Cats and dogs, living together! (Yeah, I’m really expecting only the SoSG guys to find that title funny.) We have reached the endtimes – because I’m advocating that I wish the Dodgers had been able to keep Mark Hendrickson around. Trust me – as much as you can’t believe you’re reading this post, I can’t believe I’m writing it about 200 times more.
That’s right, I’m saying the Dodgers should have kept Mark Hendrickson around. As a pitcher, even!
Tony Jackson explains,
The Dodgers might have severed ties with left-handed reliever Mark Hendrickson, declining to offer him a contract before the deadline and thus rendering him a free agent. But the club still can re-sign him, and the move was made simply to avoid going through the arbitration process with Hendrickson, who went 4-8 with a 5.21 ERA this season while making $2.925 million.
As a five-plus player, Hendrickson stood to make between $3.5 million and $4 million through arbitration.
“We discussed with his agent (Joe Urbon) bringing him back at a different rate of pay, and he declined,” Colletti said. “We can still bring him back if the situation lends itself to both of us.”
Now, at first, I completely agree with Colletti; the idea of giving Lurch a $1.5-$2 million raise is a pretty distasteful one. Especially because most Dodger fans remember him being “dreadful”, “awful”, and “terrible”, in no particular order. And they’re right: a 5.21 ERA last year, following a 4.68 ERA after being traded to LA in 2006 aren’t exactly stats to hang your hat upon. Plus, with Penny, Lowe, Billingsley, Kuroda (we hope! what’s the holdup?), Schmidt, Loaiza, and the 7-headed minor league monster of McDonald/Kuo/Elbert/Kershaw/Stults/Houlton/CH Park, it’s not like there’s a starting spot open anyway for an overpaid, ineffective pitcher.
I agree with all of this.
Yet I still want to pay Mark Hendrickson millions to be an employee of the Los Angeles Dodgers. You know why? Because even though he’s a terrible, terrible starting pitcher.. he’s a surprisingly effective relief pitcher. Check it out:
Mark Hendrickson, 2006
As a SP: 4.44 ERA. .276 BA against.
As a RP: 0.84 ERA. .158 BA against.
As a starter in 2006, he was mediocre at best. Those numbers as a starter would actually be worse if they were only from his time in LA, as after being traded his ERA jumped nearly a full run from what it was in Tampa Bay (3.81 to 4.68), but I couldn’t find splits that had starting and relieving from only in LA. He only pitched 10.2 innings in relief after finally losing his starting spot, but he was sparkling. Small sample size or not, giving up 1 ER in 10.2 innings, and striking out more than a batter per inning (12 in 10.2) after just getting just more than half a batter per inning starting (87 in 154 IP) is a pretty dramatic turnaround. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a guy do dramatically better when he knows he only has to exert himself for an inning or two rather than trying to pace himself, right?
Did we see the same thing in 2007?
Mark Hendrickson, 2007
As a SP: 6.13 ERA. .321 BA against.
As a RP: 3.69 ERA. .240 BA against.
Ugh, I’d forgotten just how brutal he was when pressed into service as a starter this past season. But once again, definite improvement when used as a reliever. This time the IP were closer (76.1 as a starter compared to 46.1 as a reliever), and yet again, the K rate improved markedly. Nearly a batter per inning as a reliever (41 in 46.1 IP) compared to quite a bit less as a starter (51 in 76.1).
As long as we never, ever, even in case of emergency, allow him to start again, that’s a lot of value there. He seems like a fantastic long reliever, who can give you 2-3 effective innings when your starter can’t make it past 5, and behind a pen that’s so fantastic in the late innings with Saito/Broxton/Beimel, that’s a pretty nice chip to have.
Is it worth $4 million? Well, that remains to be seen. But with the state of pitching out there right now, don’t be the least bit surprised if some GM with an itchy trigger finger is dumb enough to give him a $10 million contract over 2 years to come in and be a (terrible) starter.