Not knowing sucks.
Wouldn't we all like to know if Barry Bonds will stay healthy? Wouldn't be nice to know that Armando Benitez will pull his...considerable...weight this upcoming season? Wouldn't it be wonderful to know that Rogain worked?
...nevermind. I'm just fine with my shaved head.
In any case, we'd all like to know whether or not Brad Hennessey will be able to cut it as the Giants 5th starter in 2006, but that's difficult. The main thing that Hennessey's 2006 campaign showed is that we still don't know, even after 21 starts of data.
Personally, I'm optimistic he can at least match last season's production, and perhaps improve upon it to some degree -- I like that his stuff matches the kind of pitcher he is (his stuff isn't spectacular and is sometimes very hittable, but that fact that he's a groundball pitcher negates that some), and we cannot ignore that in 14 of his 21 starts, Hennessey was able to pitch into the seventh inning and beyond, with 12 of the 14 being at or near the "quality start" level. That's plenty good enough for a 5th starter.
Of course, he also had four starts where he didn't even make it past the 3rd inning, so...
This sounds like a situation ripe for the ol' insurance policy. But, should Hennessey fail or become injured, which insurance policy is better -- Kevin Correia or Jamey Wright?
Wright is a fairly known quantity, with the possiblity of being better than his statline reads.
Career: 5.13 ERA, 4.84 k's/9 (strikeouts per 9 innings), 1.07 k/bb ratio (strikeout to walk ratio), 1.92 g/f ratio (ground ball to fly ball ratio), .822 OPS against.
That...isn't good. A low strikeout rate, a poor strikeout to walk ratio, and a high OPS against indicative of a journeyman pitcher who's been released by five teams during his career. The two things in Wright's favor are: 1) his great groundball to flyball ratio, and 2) six of the 10 years he's pitched in the majors have been with the Rockies.
So, perhaps we'll give him a break. Let's slide on by those numbers pitching in Coors Field, and let's compile Wright's road numbers from the past two seasons:
4.52 ERA, 5.87 k's/9, 5.07 bb/9, 1.15 k/bb ratio (127.1 innings pitched over 2004 and 2005)
Well, there's more pitcher there, obviously, but those still aren't numbers to...Wright...home about (I can hear you groaning, but I choose to ignore you). With that, we'll throw up Correia:
Career: 4.86 ERA, 6.63 k's/9, 4.53 bb/9, 1.46 k/bb ratio, 0.80 g/f ratio, .863 OPS against.
Forgive me if I look at Correia as the better option. Correia, despite control problems last year, still walks less hitters over a nine-inning stretch than Wright's superior road numbers, and strikes out another batter and a half more per nine over Wright's road totals from the past two seasons. Correia's biggest problem seems to be keeping the ball inside the ballpark -- he gave up close to two homers per nine innings last season (1.85/9), but given the type of stuff he has, I think that's fixable.
In summary, while I don't think picking up Wright as an insurance policy was a bad idea, using him as anything but an insurance policy would be a mistake, in my mind. He hasn't shown a definitive ability to do anything particularly well in his career other than induce ground balls, and he hasn't shown that he's appreciably better than Hennessey or Correia. Long relief/spot starter is the role that best fits Wright.