For all intents and purposes, the Orioles just brought back Pat Rapp.
Not literally, of course. The righthander has been out of baseball for seven years. But his ugly 2000 season in Baltimore (9-12, 5.90 ERA, 1.64 WHIP) is about what I would expect from the Birds' latest free agent acquisition, 6'9" lefty Mark Hendrickson.
I understand, the O's are just marking time until their crop of promising young arms (Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, etc.) ripens. They need as many inexpensive veterans as they can get to fill the rotation in 2009...and possibly 2010. They can't repeat 2008, when injuries and ineffectiveness left the team so desperate for starters that they threw wild reliever Dennis Sarfate, 26-year-old rookie Brian Bass, and even Mexican League reclamation project Alfredo Simon to the wolves.
But Mark Hendrickson? The guy is best known for his height and by extension his 1,508 career minutes with the 76ers, Kings, Nets, and Cavaliers in the NBA. He just posted a 5.45 ERA in the National League. You might as well add at least a half a run to that now that he's switching to the junior circuit. He's essentially Daniel Cabrera with better control...which sadly, was probably a selling point for the O's.
I would love for Mark to prove me wrong. One of the few perks to being an Oriole fan these days is that you're constantly introduced to ragtag players - lifetime minor leaguers and declining veterans - and occasionally they exceed your rock-bottom expectations, however briefly. When April rolls around, I'll be pulling for our new pitcher. I just hope that Braden Looper (God help me) or Kenshin Kawakami or any of the other rumored additions to the rotation are delivered before then, so Mark can take his rightful place at the back of the rotation or the front of the bullpen.