Not much going on in Giants news today and I’m between a couple of things — look for the Affeldt PITCHf/x profile as soon as tonight — but one interesting news item from yesterday materialized; the Orioles have signed Brad Hennessey to a Minor League contract.
Hennessey, generally viewed as a middle reliever and spot starter, throws a 90-mph-plus fastball with movement. Murphy, mostly a utility infielder, has played his most Major League games — 48 — at second base, with 46 at shortstop. He can also play third base.
The 28-year-old Hennessey was a first-round pick of the Giants in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft and spent his first five seasons in the Major Leagues with San Francisco, compiling a 17-23 record with a 4.69 ERA in 148 appearances — 44 of them starts.
I’m slightly surprised that Hennessey settled for a Minor League deal so quickly but let’s face it, he was coming off a disastrous 2008. Brad saw his fastball velocity dip by about 2mph and his WPA/LI of -1.43, when relieving, ranked him as the worst reliever in all of baseball. The damage that was done by Hennessey in just 17.1 innings pitched is incredible. Opposing hitters had a line of: .449/.495/.719 against Hennessey when he was coming out of the bullpen. His upside is minimal and going to arbitration with him didn’t make any sense. The Giants cut bait and the Orioles dredged him up.
Marcel sees Hennessey pitching 56 innings and putting up a FIP of 4.81. That includes a K/9 of 5.63 and a BB/9 of 3.83. If you ever needed an example of how the save stat can inflate the value of a relief pitcher, look no further than Hennessey’s 2007 when he saved 19 games. Because of the 19 saves, his salary was boosted to $1.6M and now he has to settle for a minor league deal. He did make a string of solid-ish starts to end this year but the Giants made the right move by letting him go.
Baltimore relievers had a cumulative ERA of 4.57 in 2008, so Hennessey might work his way into the bullpen. He picked a decent team to try to find work with, but moving to a tougher league will be hard on him. My prediction is that if he starts the season with the Orioles, he’ll be back in the minors by the All-Star break.
Best of luck, Brad. I think most Giants fans will remember you for this splendid game against the Brewers in 2005.