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Ben Hendrickson: not bad at all

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Of course, it's the month of feel-good stories and boundless optimism, but even knowing that, it comes as a surprise to see such a story about Ben Hendrickson:

"You work your whole life to get to the big leagues, then you get there and struggle a little bit," Yost said. "Then, when you come to spring training the next year, you press, knowing you've got a chance again. You can't play this game when you're pressing.

"Even though it was a bad year, he could have learned an important lesson to help get him to the big leagues.

"That's why you can't give up on those types of guys. He wasn't the best pitcher in the International League for nothing. I don't believe in flukes. Ben Hendrickson can pitch."

Statistical projection systems don't put much stock in flukes either, which is why Hendrickson still rates as a passable back-of-the-rotation starter.  And as I noticed to my surprise not too long ago: Hendrickson is younger than much-discussed Cubs pitcher Rich Hill, and arguably as good.  This offseason the Cubs treated Hill as somewhat untouchable, while I get the impression that most Brewers fans would trade Hendrickson for the ghost of Dave Nilsson.

It's great that we don't have to rely on Hendrickson to be our #5 starter--that's the sort of thing that kept the fans away in droves in 2004.  But he's an excellent guy to have in the organization as a #8 or #9 starter--after all, as Ned reminds us, he's only one year removed from an MVP-type season in AAA.  

He may not be as exciting as Zach Jackson or Dana Eveland at this point, but imagine if he puts it together again this year--how on earth do you pick a 4th and 5th starter for '07?  That, my friends, is a fantastic problem to have.