Enjoy the Off Day

Because on Friday, if my calculations are correct – you’re going to see some serious shit.

We’ll look ahead at the big series against Arizona on Friday, but for now, let’s bask in the warm glowing warmth of a three-game sweep against Adrian Gonzalez, Jake Peavy, and 23 other guys who snuck into the clubhouse to steal San Diego uniforms. Just 1.5 games out of the lead, folks.

* Do we really have to stop making fun of Angel Berroa? Just as Nomar went into a 3-28 death spiral, Berroa took advantage and stepped up. In 10 games (8 starts) over the last two weeks, Berroa’s put up a .345/.424/.517 line. That’s… and I can’t believe I’m even saying this… good. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way on the bandwagon. He’s still got a 61 OPS+ on the season. But hey, credit where credit is due. Even better, he’s been entertaining. First you’ve got the grounder getting lost in his shirt on Tuesday night, and then last night you’ve got a fantastic post-game interview where he has Manny be his translator and, well, watch for yourself. (Hat-tip to LarryBrownSports for the video).

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--0Pt4qt80A]

That’s right, Manny’s serving as Berroa’s translator… until Berroa blows the whole charade by speaking English.

* Speaking of Manny, he won the National League Most Valuable Player award for the month of August, thanks to his completely insane line of .415/.508/.736. That’s a 1.244 OPS, folks. It’s too bad he’s been slacking so far in the first few games of September by only posting a 1.131 OPS. Shape up, Manny!

* Another trade rumor regarding the depleted middle infield: Via MLBtraderumors, we see that Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times has a mention of the Dodgers’ interest in Tadahito Iguchi. No, really, that’s basically all the information he has:

The Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies have expressed interest in second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, according to his agent, Rocky Hall. Iguchi was released by the San Diego Padres this week.

Since September 1st has passed, Iguchi wouldn’t even be elgible for the playoffs should that become a consideration, but I still say: pass. He was pretty terrible in San Diego this year (64 OPS+) before being cut, and Blake DeWitt’s starting to show signs of life with two homers in the last few days. Plus, you’ve still got Chin-Lung Hu sitting on the bench and all indications are that Jeff Kent will be back in another two weeks or so. I don’t see the need here.

* If you’re a regular reader, you know how much we love the guys at FireJoeMorgan around here, especially when we’re completely ripping them off to bag on guys like Ken Rosenthal and Tracy Ringolsby. But you’ll also have noticed that we very rarely do that to T.J. Simers, because it’s well-known that he’s a total clown – and a clown who’s not even all that funny, at that. So when Simers came up with this “Ned Colletti is baseball’s best GM” piece, I barely even gave it a second look, because it seemed so obvious that it was just a (completely unfunny) way to take backhanded swipes at Colletti. But it seems that FJM took it seriously (although they admittedly mention more than once that they’re unsure, but they did go through with it in the end). T.J. Simers should never be taken seriously. If I were in a room with him and he yelled “fire!” I’d ask him what his real ulterior motive was before I took a step.

* Finally, this is neither here nor there, but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read it on Baseball Prospectus:

Left-hander Mark Hendrickson won’t be back with the Marlins next season, but he has significantly increased his free-agent stock by showing he can pitch effectively out of the bullpen since being dropped from the rotation.

Hmm… this sounds familiar somehow. Yet, I can’t place it. Oh! That’s right. It’s because I said the exact same thing on December 15th of last year:

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.

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.

But that’s not even the most entertaining thing from the BP article, and to be fair, this is from an unnamed major league scout, not from the BP staff:

Dodgers outfielder Juan Pierre: “I know he doesn’t draw walks and he’s a low on-base percentage guy, but he is an energy guy. I just think the Dodgers miss him not being on the field. They lack that spark he provides.”

Priority number one of the offseason: find out what club this guy scouts for! Sounds like a good trading partner to me.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

So Long, Lurch

Remember a few weeks ago when I outlined that I actually wanted Mark Hendrickson back as a reliever, because he was shockingly pretty decent in that role, as opposed to how terrible he is as a starter?

Yeah. About that. hendy.jpg

MIAMI — The Marlins have added a veteran presence to their young pitching staff.

On Wednesday afternoon, the team announced the signing of free-agent left-handed pitcher Mark Hendrickson to a one-year deal.

The addition of Hendrickson potentially gives the Marlins three left-handers in their starting rotation. The pitching staff also includes southpaws Scott Olsen and Andrew Miller.

Oh yeah. This is going to end well. Take a mediocre vet, put him in a role he’s clearly proven he’s not cut out for, put him in front of a young and particularly defensively-challenged team, and add him to a division filled with some serious offensive talent. This is going to be cover-your-eyes bad.

So long, Lurch. I’ll enjoy watching Matt Kemp launch a ball 550 feet off you this summer.

Oh hell, who am I kidding? Former Dodgers always come back to bite this team head-to-head.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

Nuts and Gum, Together at Last!

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. hendy.jpg

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.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg