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Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Phillies Might Pay Arbitration-Eligible Kyle Kendrick $3 Million for 2011

So posits Matt Gelb.

Gelb did his homework, and what he says makes sense, but. . .

On the one hand, the numbers -- and what is baseball without them -- make a compelling case for Kendrick, especially when compared to those of other pitchers who got similar awards. On the other hand, Kendrick's performance is one of those "two steps forward, one step backwards, one step forward, two steps backwards" type of careers. He got shelled mid-summer, got sent down, then came back up a week later and pitched reasonably well. He outpitched Andy Petitte in June in Yankee Stadium on a night that I suggested that the Yankees would win on the mercy rule. Then, at season's end, he got too cute with an inside pitch, gave up a three-run homer, and had Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee furious with him. For a pitcher with perhaps 1 1/2 pitches, you can't get too cute; you need to be precise, and every now and then Kendrick -- seemingly at the most inopportune moments -- forgets that his a #5 starter (the Phillies contemporary version of Steve Fireovid, who wrote a book about himself called "The 26th Man") and thinks that he's Roy Halladay. And that's when he gets into trouble.

So, posit this -- if the Phillies trade Blanton, do you want Kendrick at $3 million a year in the #5 spot (he has a career winning percentage over .550) or do you want to take a chance on Vance Worley or someone else, a non-roster invitee looking for that one good gig? Given that the Phillies raided the piggy bank for some time to come by signing Cliff Lee, and given that they say they don't have enough money to go after an outfielder to put into the mix with the four or five that they have, how can they justify spending $3 million per on Kendrick? He's pretty much a #5 starter, a long reliever, a combination of both, but that's about it. Then again, he wins more than he loses, he's known to the team, they have a shot to return to the World Series after a year's absence, and he's still young enough to benefit from the mentoring of three wise men in Halladay, Lee and Roy Oswalt (not to mention Cole Hamels, who's close to him in age). Perhaps some of that mentoring will pay off. Then again, for the guy who once thought he was traded to Japan (something that the collective bargaining agreement prohibits but that former Phillies' pitcher Brett Myers convinced him was true in one of the all-time pranks), training alongside those aces doesn't necessarily mean he sees it for what it is; heck, last year, at times you could have sworn that Kendrick thought he was also an ace, and when he pitched like that he gave up a ton of runs (because he doesn't have the stuff).

So, GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has an interesting decision on his hands -- whether to make an offer or to let the arbitration play itself out. Give Kyle Kendrick a ton of credit -- he tries hard, he hangs in there, he has a good record and, well, if he gets the payday, he'll have earned it relative to what others in a similar position have gotten over the years.

And to think, the brains behind the development of the strongest union in the world, the Major League Baseball Players Association, Marvin Miller, isn't in the Hall of Fame.

Kyle Kendrick's ability to get $3 million a year is prima facie evidence that he should be.

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