Lenny DiNardo (capitalize that "N," or Lenny will beat you down) was drafted in 2001 out of Stetson College by the New York Mets in the 3rd Round. After a brief debut in the New-York Penn League for Brooklyn in 2001, DiNardo struggled with his control in the South Atlantic League in 2002 before breaking in 2003, making significant strides with his control to complement his strikeout-per-inning. After mowing down hitters to the tune of a 2.01 ERA and a 6.64 (!) K/BB ratio in St. Lucie, Lenny was promoted to AA Binghamton and, while he did not blow hitters away as he had in A-ball, continued his success. In this breakout year for the 6'4" High Springs FL native, he appeared in 26 games and started 20 of those.
His 2003 year was doubtless the motivation for the Red Sox picking him in that off-season's Rule V draft, snatching him from the boundless evil of the New York...oh, wait, Mets...um...well, they took him from the Mets is what happened. No boundless evil involved. As per Rule V rules, Lenny had to stay with the big club the entire year unless he was injured, or else he would have to be offered back to the Mets for MLB play money and some caramels. This would've be a tall order had he not graciously injured himself repeatedly to eliminate the complication of keeping him on the 25-man roster. In between getting hurt, the crafty DiNardo managed to post a 4.23 ERA in 27 and two-third innings as the Rex Sox second lefty option behind the wonder that was Alan Embree. He made 22 appearances with the big club, all in relief. He also probably set--or at least tied--a record in that he pitched at four different stops during his rehab stint (GCL Sox-Rk, Sarasota-A, Portland-AA, Pawtucket-AAA).
Undaunted by his injury-plagued year, the plucky lefty went back to starting in 2005. Now safely able to pitch in the minors without the Mets kidnapping him, DiNardo made 22 starts in Pawtucket that year, posting a 3.15 ERA. It was the best year of his career to date, as he also made eight appearances and one start for Boston, posting a nifty 1.84 ERA in fourteen and two-thirds sparkling innings. Theo Epstein's praise of DiNardo is breathtaking:
"DiNardo is a very crafty lefty. His stuff does not blow you away, but he really knows how to pitch. He changes speeds, he has a good changeup, he's tough on righties with his changeup. If he sticks, it will be as a left-handed long guy. A guy to turn a lineup around."-Epstein's scouting report on Lenny
It's not like many people have ever attributed a soft-tossing lefty's abilities to "knowing how to pitch," or being "crafty," so it should come as no surprise that in 2006, Theo's buddy Lenny made a career high six major league starts, mainly because David Wells's fat ass was planted firmly on the DL. Lenny once again had minor nicks and bruises in 2006, making brief stops in the GCL, at Portland, and Pawtucket on the DiNardo specialty - the rehab stint after a length DL trip. At Portland, yours truly got a chance to see him pitch. I can remember it now as if it were yesterday. The Sea Dogs were facing hated rival Trenton Thunder at Hadlock Field, and the stands were shaking as DiNardo launched himself from the `pen to quell the insurgent Thunder, who were threatening to come back from a 4-0 deficit. Lenny kicked ass for two hitters and then - knowing the score and wanting to inject some excitement into the game - gave up a three-run homer to some prick who hadn't hit a homer all year. Portland won, 4-3, in part thanks to Lenny's heroics.
All of us in Red Sox Nation were hoping for big things from Lenny in his stint with the big club in 2006, but it was not to be. In 13 appearances total, our boy Lenny walked more than he struck out - a shocking development for a guy who was vintage Moyer in AA ball - and posted an untenable 7.85 ERA, which helped necessitate getting guys like Jason Johnson and Kevin Jarvis, enabling us to have Washed-Up Veteran night a couple nights a week at the Fens in September. Thanks a lot, Lenny.
His pride wounded but undaunted still, DiNardo was whiffing more than a batter an inning in the AFL, posting a 3.20 ERA for Peoria, and trying to make a case to be invited to spring training for a bullpen spot in 2007. However, the solid lefty (190 pounds) was claimed off waivers by that Computerbrain Billy Beane on Feburary 14th, 2007. It was a dark day in Red Sox Nation history.
From all of us here at Over The Monster, we wish you a good career Lenny, and hope you continue to showcase your skill set in the Majors with Oakland. I'm sure the fans will definitely be applauding should the A's bring you in against the Red Sox in Fenway. You will be missed, and we'll always remember your craftiness.
(I have too much time on my hands. Good night)