Community Projection: Clay Hensley

Well, no, not really. Let's not go too nuts with the projections.

But consider this an open thread about that last spot in the bullpen. Maybe I'm reading too much into offhand comments, but it feels like there isn't much of a contest for the last couple of spots in the bullpen. Most of the articles or comments that I've heard/read peg Guillermo Mota as a lock, which I understand. Most of the same articles peg Clay Hensley as a lock, which I only partially understand.

It's not that I'm an ardent anti-Henslite -- we're talking about the sixth or seventh man in the bullpen, so it's hard to get too worked up about anyone -- but he certainly should have to pitch his way onto the team. He had a fantastic year in 2010 (2.16 ERA, 9.2 K/9, three HR allowed in 75 innings), but it was a year that was wildly out of place with the rest of his career.

The early reports were that Hensley signed a major-league contract, but Henry Schulman later twote that the contact was non-guaranteed. Hensley could make just over $1 million if he reaches his incentives -- Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, stuff like that -- which means that if it's a coin flip between him and a minor leaguer, there are a half-million reasons to lean towards the younger pitcher.

If I had to go with a favorite candidate based on statz? Almost certainly Dan Otero:

Year ERA IP HR BB SO HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
5 Seasons 1.90 213.1 8 30 189 0.3 1.3 8.0 6.30
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 2/29/2012.


In five seasons, he's walked 30 batters. That's fewer than Jonathan Sanchez walked in his last eight starts with the Giants. But I'll hazard a guess that Otero throws 73 m.p.h., as that would be the only reason it would make sense for him not to be a non-roster invitee. Name the last time a right-handed reliever came out of the minors with gaudy stats to be successful with a fastball that scouts didn't care for.

Well, yeah. Romo. But you probably had to look that up.

edit: Otero isn't an NRI because he's already on the 40-man roster. I'm a genius. In that case, he's the official McC Bullpen Dark Horse of 2012.

Heath Hembree has a shot to make the roster, as he's wowing people in camp with his fastball and slider. That is, the velocity and break of said pitches. His control is a work in progress. He just walked Jose Guillen, for example. There's a strong chance that he'll start in Fresno.

Dan Runzler is hoping for good things, but he hit Jose Guillen as he was walking to first. He's also the subject of the best quote of the spring to this point:

He had trouble going through lineups, seeing hitters second time around, and blah blah blah. So we’ve tried to smooth him out. He’s leading with his front arm, which is a big key."

I'm so proud that Righetti is a blah blah blah man instead of an "et cetera" or "yadda yadda yadda" guy.

Beyond that, there isn't a large group of realistic applicants mixed in with the NRIs. There are pitchers without a long minor-league track record (Mitch Lively, Stephen Harrold, Austin Fleet, Seth Rosin), wily minor-league vets (Ramon Ortiz, Shane Loux, Jean Machi), and I-remember-those-guys (Travis Blackley, Brian Burres).

So it's either Runzler, Hembree, or Hensley.

It's probably Hensley.

Once Belt is optioned, this is going to be a really boring spring for roster battles.

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