Orioles Add Hendrickson, Fiorentino

The Orioles made a couple of moves today, bringing back left-handed pitcher Mark Hendrickson (for his third year in Baltimore) and outfielder Jeff Fiorentino (after we spent some time in other organizations) on minor league deals.

Hendrickson’s ERA shot up from 4.37 to 5.26 in his first two years in an O’s uniform, but he probably pitched about as well on both years (4.57 xFIP in ’09 with a fair amount of time in the rotation, to 4.13 xFIP in ’10 almost entirely out of the pen). He struck out more batters last year (6.6 K/9 to 5.2), walked fewer (2.4 BB/9 to 2.8), and did a better job keeping the ball in the yard (though that was partially a result of a better home run per flyball rate, as 2009’s 12.7% mark was on the high side).

When the O’s re-signed Hendrickson last year I said:

“The $1.2 M deal – with a $0.2 M buyout on the $1.2 M option for 2011, which would take the total salary up to $1.4 M – is a bit less than Hendrickson accepted to come to Baltimore last off-season. I looked at Mark’s 2009 with the Birds previously:

“Hendrickson did start the year as a starter, but that didn’t last too long. After 7 he was moved to the bullpen, where he pitched the majority of the year. He did make 4 more starts at the end of the season when the O’s shut down most of their young starters. Hendrickson finished at almost his exact career marks, with a 5.40 ERA in 50 IP as a starter and a 3.44 ERA in 55 IP as a reliever. His 4.32 overall ERA was better than I had expected, though his 4.92 FIP was a bit disappointing. Mark’s underlying stats were pretty much in line with his career numbers. He didn’t strike out to many guys (5.23 K/9) and didn’t walk too many either (2.83 BB/9). His groundball and flyballs rates were normal, though he did give up a fair number of home runs (1.37 HR/9) due to a 12.7% HR/FB rate. Adjusting for that, his expected FIP was 4.68.

Nothing too impressive, but he was worth 0.5 Wins Above Replacement and $2.2 M, which makes his contract worthwhile. Word is that Hendrickson wants to come back to the O’s next season. As swing-men go, he’s not bad. He won’t completely embarrass you as a starter, and is actually pretty effective out of the pen without a big platoon split. If the 35 year-old was willing to sign for a contract similar to the one he had this year then that would be a solid move for the team. I doubt he would start the year in the rotation again though, and that indicates some of the progress the O’s have made.”

As a reliever, Hendrickson’s career stats include a 3.40 ERA, a 6.9 K/9, a 2.4 BB/9, and a 0.62 HR/9. Those stats would correspond to about a 3.38 FIP, though it was around 3.56 just for 2009 (the strike-out rate was down a little). In any case, a FIP in the 3.75 area in 60-80 IP would make Hendrickson worth at least 0.5 Wins Above Replacement, and possible closer to a full win. Even with the depressed free agent market that’s worth $1.5 M to $3.5 M, so the contract is anywhere between a fair deal and a slight bargain. So yeah, I like the move fine enough. Hendrickson adds a lefty to the pen – which is currently missing a prominent one, besides closer Mike Gonzalez – and that’s a role that he should be more effective in. Nothing earth-shattering, but it does help a little without any real downside. Plus, if a contender is in need of some cheap left-handed bullpen help at the deadline, they’ll know who to call.

Hendrickson’s FIP came in a bit higher (4.09), but he pitched more innings and so accumulated 0.4 fWAR. If the Orioles need him to fill in at the major league level some in 2011, I’m comfortable expecting him to be above replacement level (if not by a ton) – likely worth the $900K he’d get, in any case.

Jeff Fiorentino burst onto the scene in Baltimore back in 2005 – all the way from A-ball – as a 22 year-old Screech look-alike. After spending most of the next few years in the minors, Fiorentino was claimed off waivers by the Reds – and then a couple weeks later again by the A’s. He only got one plate appearance in Oakland, became a free agent after the 2009 season, and spent 2010 in Japan. Soon to be 28 years old, Fiorentino has just 173 career plate appearances at the big league level, hitting .270/.341/.324. He seems to have pretty good on-base skills (9.8% walk rate), but he didn’t show much power. That’s not too dissimilar to his minor league career (.294/.376/.444 in 717 PA at Triple-A). Total Zone has Fiorentino as a plus fielder in the minors – more so in the corners, but also in center – which makes him a decent 4th outfielder type. He’s pretty far down the depth chart, but if worst comes to worst he should be able to hold serve pretty well for the team. Maybe he’d even surprise; a .275/.330/.390 line and +2 run defense in center would be good for around a half-win above replacement over 300 PA.

While not terribly significant, I like these two moves since they provide the O’s with cheap depth that shouldn’t hurt the team if it needs to be utilized.

Stats: ERA, FIP, xFIP, K/9, BB/9, HR/FB%, WAR, BB%, Total Zone,