The baseball world is mourning the loss of former All-Star outfielder Dave Henderson, who passed away this morning at age 57. “Hendu” played for five teams over his 14-year career, including six years each with the Mariners and Athletics. He was the first draft pick in Mariners franchise history and spent a decade as an M’s color commentator on TV and radio after his retirement. The slugger was a member of the Oakland teams that won three straight AL pennants from 1988-90 and captured the 1989 World Series, and Henderson played a big role in that championship with a 1.129 OPS over 39 postseason plate appearances. Of course, Henderson’s most famous playoff moment came in Game Five of the 1986 ALCS as a member of the Red Sox, when he hit a dramatic two-run homer (with two outs and two strikes on him) in the ninth inning to temporarily put Boston ahead, and Henderson then drove in the game’s winning run in the 11th on a sac fly. That victory saved the Red Sox from elimination and sparked an unlikely comeback, as they then beat the Angels in Games Six and Seven to win the pennant.
“Hendu played just two seasons in Boston, but we always regarded him as one of us, and are grateful for the time we were able to enjoy his talent and infectious personality,” Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said in an official statement from the club. “Everywhere he went, Henderson made friends. He was a great ambassador for our game, and we have lost him far too soon.”
We at MLBTR send our condolences to Henderson’s family and countless friends around the game. Here are some news items from around the West divisions…
- It’s a lot easier to win when your team has a high payroll (and/or a wealth of controllable young talent), and as Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes, the Mariners are in something of a difficult spot since they’re a consistent mid-range payroll team that has a big chunk of their spending tied up in a handful of star contracts. If the M’s aren’t willing to spend more, Baker notes, then GM Jerry Dipoto will be doubly challenged to find affordable young pieces to fit around those core stars. Given Dipoto’s very busy offseason, it’s hard to say he hasn’t been trying to fulfill that exact goal.
- Giants right-handed pitching prospect Ray Black turned a lot of heads in the Arizona Fall League, Andy Baggarly writes in a subscription-only piece for Baseball America. Black’s fastball topped out at a whopping 104mph in AFL play and he also possesses (perhaps anecdotally) a 98mph changeup. Black, 25, was a seventh-rounder for the Giants in the 2011 draft who has battled a variety of injuries and didn’t being his pro career until 2014. Black has a 3.28 ERA over 60 1/3 minor league innings, exhibiting both some shaky control (6.1 BB/9) and overwhelming strikeout power (18.2 K/9).
- The Dodgers have been linked to both Wei-Yin Chen and Kenta Maeda in free agency rumors, and Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times looks at the pros and cons for the club of signing either pitcher. Whatever choice the team makes (if it goes with either starter), Dilbeck thinks the Dodgers need to address their rotation after falling short on a number of offseason pitching targets.