Today, in his ESPN blog, Buster Olney breaks down the Mark Hendrickson trade:
And after doing more thinking about Tampa Bay's trade of Mark Hendrickson to the Dodgers this week, I believe the AL-NL disparity is part of the reason why the deal was a head-scratcher for me, from the Rays' point of view. Hendrickson is not a dominant pitcher, he's not going to the Hall of Fame, and he'd never be the staff ace if and when Tampa Bay becomes a more competitive team.
But he's a solid left-hander who is getting better, and he is battle-tested in the AL East, where the lineups are rugged and where there is no room for the faint of heart. Hendrickson went 11-8 with a 5.91 ERA in 2005, and in the great tradition of left-handers, he seems to be getting better with age; this year, he is 4-8, but with a 3.81 ERA, and he has averaged seven innings per start. He threw 15 scoreless innings in April, had a 5.59 ERA in May, and a 3.58 ERA in June.
Maybe the Devil Rays privately believe Hendrickson, as an asset, had reached his maximum value and, in classic Wall Street strategy, decided to move the stock while the price was high. General manager Andrew Friedman and his staff really like Dioner Navarro, and as one of Friedman's brethren said yesterday, "If you lock onto a player and you want him, then you make sure you get the player, and he did."
But I think Hendrickson's value might have been higher, in actuality, and in part because of the AL-NL disparity we are seeing. Hendrickson is a competitive pitcher in the AL, which might translate into something more than that in the NL, once you apply the AL-NL exchange rate. We've seen in the last 18 months that pitchers moving from the NL to the AL are facing greater scrutiny, after the struggles of Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano and Matt Clement. Now maybe pitchers who compete effectively in the AL should be valued higher as they move to the NL.
Spoke with a half-dozen talent evaluators in the last couple of days about the Hendrickson deal, and their initial response was the same as mine, that Tampa Bay got the short end of the deal. We'll see how it turns out.
I just don't get this.
Yes, Hendrickson has a 3.81 ERA this season, but he also has just 51 Ks and 34 walks in 89 2/3 innings. He has the same mediocre HR rate, K rate, and walk rate as ever. His DIPS ERA is 4.75, indicating that he's primarily been the beneficiary of good luck and great defense this season.
And yet, Olney doesn't acknowledge any of this. Instead, he regurgitates some tired crap about how he's "battle tested" in the tough A.L. East, and perpetuates the "lefties getting better with age" myth.
Nevermind that Hendrickson is 32 years old, posted an ERA+ of 73 last year, has a career ERA+ coming into the season of 86...he's got a low ERA this season, so he's figured it all out, according to Olney.
The reality is, Hendrickson is a veteran sub-mediocre pitcher who is having a run of good luck, and the D-Rays were smart enough to cash in when his value was at his highest. Olney glosses over what the D-Rays got in return, but the reality is, they got the younger, better pitcher, and the younger, better catcher in the deal.
If the half-dozen talent evaluators Olney really think the D-Rays got the short end of the deal, they are either lying or they are idiots. The Dodgers dearly overpaid for a guy who is not a good pitcher.