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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Time for Phillies to Say Goodbye to Kyle Kendrick as a Starter for Good

Enough already. Stop teasing the fans, the team and Kyle Kendrick with his AAAA status (that's no typo) as a starting pitcher. He has 1 1/2 pitches, can win at Yankee Stadium (as he did a month ago) when he keeps the ball down against teams that don't see him that often, but boils over like an unwatched pot at unopportune times, like he did last night in the fifth inning in St. Louis.

The Phillies sent Kyle Kendrick to AAA Lehigh Valley today. He should not return to this organization -- again -- as a starting pitcher. Ever.

Because it's a sad tale. The Phillies have two choices with Kendrick outside releasing him. One is to convert him into a reliever, a role to which he's more suited because a) his lack of pitches and b) his inability to get through a lineup multiple times. The other is to trade him to someone who might see something in him and try to rehabilitate him. But under no circumstances can the Phillies let him fail for a third time. That would be a sign of nuttiness.

In 2008, Kendrick got off to a good start, won 11 or 12 games (I can't remember) and then faltered so badly in the second half that he was left off the post-season roster. Put differently, he morphed into the team's worst pitcher who was not named Adam Eaton. He started 2009 in the minors and pitched most of the year down on the farm. To his credit, when called up and upon late in the season, he pitched pretty well, including a three-inning relief effort down the stretch that helped seal a victory (this after he was called up mid-season, bombed in one game, and immediately was sent down). This season, he broke camp in the rotation because of injuries to both J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton. He remained in the rotation because Happ was hurt, and at times he pitched very well.

But he's also one of those guys that every time you think he turned the corner, he combusts. And that's okay, occasionally, for a young pitcher on an also-ran, but not for a starter on a World Series contender. Not if that team wants to be a World Series contender.

We've seen plenty of Kyle Kendrick. It's not that he's a bad guy or that he doesn't work hard. It's just that after multiple opportunities, the team should know what it has and should move on. Jamie Moyer is iffy because of his slow stuff and age (if he doesn't have pinpoint location he gets hit), and Joe Blanton has been downright awful. Add Kendrick to the mix, and the team does not have a good starting rotation. Not that the guy whom they called up to replace Kendrick -- Drew Carpenter -- comes with an advanced billing that borderlines on terrific. He's been here and done that -- as in "that's not so good" -- and might be the Phillies' best option absent a trade.

Regardless of how the team fares this year, next year they need to move on from Kendrick if they want to remain contenders.


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