If you’ve been a Rays fan for more than the past couple years you might remember a big awkward lefty by the name Mark “Lurch” Hendrickson. On some pretty bad teams he fit in pretty well until he was spun off in the trade (along with Toby “Sloth” Hall) that essentially traded an older #5 starter and and older can’t run- catcher for younger guys that fit the same mold. Since then, Lurch has bounced around a bit, both from team-to-team, but also from starter to reliever to swingman. He’s basically a reliever at this point, but he still seems to do one thing pretty well, get out lefties. Over his career he has retired same-handers decent enough as he has a 3.71 FIP/4.05 xFIP.
If you view him as strictly a LOOGY, then you could do a lot worse. The best part is that the Orioles declined a $1.2M option for him this year so he should be available for around, or probably even less than, $1M. The Rays have done a good job of picking up guys that can shut down righties, but until J. P. Howell is available, and has proven that he can go a handful of innings a week, then we’re left with Rule-5 draftee Cesar Cabral (whom Collette is nearly adamant will end up in a Padres uniform before the end of the year), R. J. Swindle (dubious whether he can pitch at the ML level for extended periods), and Jake McGee. I think McGee would be best served to continue to start at AAA Durham since it’s easier to scale down to a relief role than to build back up to be a starter. Also, this keeps his trade value high as he would be worth more as a starter.
So for around a million clams we get another reliever that towers over the competition that should be able to fill a role until we have a better idea of whether Howell will be coming back in May or more like July. Here’s his 4:3:2:1 weighted average vs. lefties since 2007:
Those numbers are certainly not overwhelming, but get him in front of a solid defense and let Joe Maddon put him in situations where he would thrive, and I feel confident that it would be a million dollars well spent. I have to admit that part of my fascination here has a lot to do with wishing to see the Rays have a bullpen with Mark Hendrickson (6’9″) Adam Russell (6’8″), Jose Veras (6’6″), and David Price (6’6″) in the rotation so that perhaps Subway would start giving away 30-foot submarine sandwiches if we could manage to get 30 feet of pitchers into a game. What say you? Would you be willing to take a reasonably inexpensive flyer on an old friend that’s out in the cold?
Imagine five of these laid end-to-end:
Now how do you feel about this move?