Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Dennis Sarfate, 2008 Topps Heritage #629
Sarfate, who came to the Orioles from Houston as part of the Miguel Tejada trade, was yet another one of those guys who could throw the ball through the backstop but couldn't always control it. He burst out of the gate in 2008 with four scoreless appearances, earning a hold and two relief wins in a rare four-game sweep of the Mariners. He overcame the occasional hiccup and his earned run average was 3.18 as of July 5, but he had also walked 34 in his first 39.2 innings. Opposing teams caught up with him in the second half of the season, and he finished with a subpar 4.74 ERA. Still, his final numbers were hurt by a brutal four-game trial in the starting rotation (10.34 ERA - 18 ER in 15.2 IP), as the Birds' poor starting pitching depth forced Dennis into a role that he clearly didn't fit.
The righthander got off to an awful start in 2009, was injured in early May, and did not resurface in Charm City until September. He allowed a single run over his final nine appearances, but still wound up with a 5.09 ERA in 20 games. As previously mentioned, he was a member of the Norfolk Tides for all of this past season and showed signs of having figured things out. Serving as the closer for much of the year, he saved 20 games and struck out 72 batters in 56 innings with a 2.73 ERA. It had to be frustrating for the 29-year-old reliever to ride the buses while seat-fillers like Pedro Viola, Armando Gabino, and Frank Mata logged time in the O's bullpen. Hopefully he'll find a good fit in Japan, or maybe even rejuvenate his career as ex-Carp and current Ranger Colby Lewis did recently.
If I remember anything about Sarfate in the future, it will likely be his sense of humor. Early on in his Baltimore tenure, the reliever appeared prominently in Kevin Millar's goofy "Orioles Magic" video. During the 2009 season he did a few mildly amusing "Dennis the Menace" segments for MASN, needling members of the local media and teammates alike (the latter video also includes Brad Bergesen's disturbing impression of Napoleon Dynamite's brother Kip). Like they say, leave 'em laughing.