Bidding farewell to Ian Patrick Kennedy


Signing free agent relief pitchers to large, guaranteed contracts is a high-risk maneuver. The Yankees have learned this over the years, as they’ve signed previously good relievers only to see them falter in pinstripes. Steve Karsay, Paul Quantrill, and Kyle Farnsworth come immediately to mind. The former two had varying degrees of success, but ultimately were not worth the investment. One pitcher who did work out was Tom Gordon, and for a number of reasons. Not only did he mostly pitch effectively in 2004 and 2005 while setting up Mariano Rivera, but he paved the way for the 2006 draft.

After the 2005 season, the Yankees offered Gordon arbitration, but he declined, eventually signing with the Phillies. Even though the Yankees sacrificed their own first round pick that winter by signing Johnny Damon, they picked up the Phillies’, and then a supplemental pick between rounds one and two. With those the Yankees drafted Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain, both of whom shot through the minors and pitched for the big league club in late 2007.

Chamberlain was the high-ceiling, risk pick. Other teams backed off because of a triceps injury, but the Yankees could afford to pounce in the supplemental round. Kennedy was the safer pick. As Mike said on draft day:

Solid pick, but very safe and conservative. He’s not far away from the Bronx. He’s a bit undersized (6’0″, 180) and he doesn’t throw hard, but he’s a winner and strikeout machine.

Mike also described his ceiling as a No. 2, but that was based on Kennedy recovering his fastball speed. After sitting 92-93 in his first two college seasons, Kennedy dipped to 89-91 his Junior year. The point is that Kennedy was never supposed to be a top of the rotation starter, a la Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. He was the middle of the rotation, possibly back of the rotation guy who had the command to succeed in the bigs.

We didn’t see much of that command. In Kennedy’s 2008 audition it looked like he was downright afraid to put the ball in the strike zone. It’s a shame, because that was one of his strengths. Without that, he predictably failed. Then came the injuries. Though he only lasted a little bit in the majors in 2008, he pitched just 77 minor league innings because of back troubles. His innings total was even lower in 2008 because of an aneurysm in his right armpit. No, Kennedy didn’t do himself any favors in 2008, but he also didn’t catch any breaks.

I think Chad Jennings has a great take on Kennedy. He’s seen him pitch more than any of us, and comes in with a great conclusion to Kennedy’s pinstriped career: “Two bad months in the big leagues — as a 23 year old with one year of professional experience — is hardly enough to judge Kennedy as a pitcher.” He goes onto describe Kennedy’s recovery this fall; he’s working in a two-seam fastball and has started to use his curveball to induce bad contact rather than a swing and miss.

We’ve always liked Kennedy at RAB, hence “Save the Big Three.” But, as many people pointed out at the time, it was really, “Save the Big Two and think hard about what you do with Kennedy.” He was never a player who would hold up a trade, and after two years of ineffectiveness and bad luck, the Yankees decided not to make him an obstacle in the Curstis Granderson trade. It was probably in their best interests. But I’m definitely going to miss Kennedy. He could have played a role on this team.

Categories : Pitching
  • thurdonpaul

    i remember hearing, IPK was like a young mike mussina. i always liked moose, so i was looking forward to watching IPK develop into moose the 2nd. good luck to you IPK

    • whozat

      “i remember hearing, IPK was like a young mike mussina.”

      Nobody said that…people said he was like Old Moose, but young — not that he was like the Young Mike Mussina, who had WAY better stuff than kennedy ever did.

      • thurdonpaul

        sorry, but i do remember hearing that he was like a young Mussina, i remember hearing he had several good pitches and excellent control like Moose.

        i did not say that YOU said that.

        how sure are you that NOBODY said that ??

        sorry, but some people here need to lighten up on thinking they are the only ones that know anything.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          People definitely made the comparison, especially since IPK bent over at the waist to look at the runner on first like Moose did. It was always kind a bad comparison though, IPK was never the kind of talent/prospect young Moose was.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Oops… Didn’t see Last Clown’s comment, below, about the ‘bend at the waist’ move.

            • TheLastClown

              Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

          • Salty Buggah

            Agreed. He was like a young old Moose, if that makes sense.

        • whozat

          Anyone who looked at Kennedy’s stuff and knew much about Mike Mussina before he was a Yankee (and even his early years with the Yanks) would have said that in seriousness. So, sure, maybe some ill-informed fans and lazy journalists said this…but it wouldn’t have been too hard for you to figure out for yourself that they either being hyperbolic or flat-out wrong.

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            Dude, he said he heard (which is reasonable since a lot of people were saying it, right or wrong) that IPK was like Moose so he was looking forward to seeing IPK develop. I was looking forward to seeing IPK develop, too. I’m not sure what’s so awful about anything he said here.

            Just one man’s opinion, but I think the level of harshness here is a little uncalled for.

            • thurdonpaul

              thank you Mr Mondesi, you said better what i was trying to say, because i enjoyed watching Moose pitch so much, maybe it was wishful thinking, but damn, it would have been nice

            • whozat

              I was looking forward to seeing Kennedy establish himself as a productive Yankee as well, and I expect and hope he does well in AZ.

              Comments the parent, though, just give ammo to the mustangs and donnie-baseballs of the world, and it drags down the level of discourse on the site, which sucks for everyone.

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Meh, there are plenty of comments to direct your (quite ample) ire at around here. ;-) I hear where you’re coming from, but I think if you want to make that point you can make it without being antagonistic to someone like thurdonpaul, who didn’t say anything stupid or ignorant or anything. I think you overreacted a bit to thurdonpaul, but whatevs. Agree to disagree.

              • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                Just one more thing, and this is a general comment more than a reaction to this conversation (which obviously wasn’t so heated and isn’t a big deal)… I’m all for raising the level of discourse around here, but I’m not sure the best way to go about it is to be so ready to be antagonistic to people that we’re antagonistic to people unnecessarily. Every comment doesn’t have to be seen as an invitation for ridicule.

      • TheLastClown

        Exactly, it was more like he looked like Mike Mussina because he bends at the waist as he gets set before his windup. That and the control reputation, but not much else.

  • GK

    He wouldn’t have cracked the rotation for a while. Even if Andy retires after this year, the Yanks will likely fill the empty spot with some top flight free agent.

  • J

    Flash Gordon for IPK and Joba? Sounds like a pretty good deal…

  • Damaso Garcia completes the double play

    IPK was like a young Moose like Kei Igawa was like a young Lefty Gomez.

    Good riddance IPK and glad to see you Curtis Granderson.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Yeah! You busted in ONE ENTIRE YEAR!

      • DP


        +a million

  • pat

    IPK = gringo Alfredo Aceves. They have virtually the same exact repertoire except Ace, possibly because he had played professionally in Mexico, was not afraid of pro hitters. I’ll most definitely be rooting for him to succeed in Arizona.

    • ledavidisrael

      I believe IPK has a little more stuff than Aceves. But I agree Aceves isn’t scurrrr’d.

  • dkidd

    i hope he thrives in the nl west

    he could do a lot worse than learning from webb and haren

  • Kat1110

    I liked the potential of IPK, too. I think we all liked what we saw during the end of the 2007 season so much, that we presumed that the Big Two & IPK, would just pick up where they had left off in 2008. A greedy, misguided presumption as it turned out. I wish him well… just not against us.

  • cor shep

    I’m very sad to see him go. I really wanted him to come into the role that Hughes did last season. First starter called to whether it be to fill a starting or relief role. I think he would have done great. But oh well, I’m pretty happy to see Curtis and glad IPK is gonna have a great shot to be penciled into a rotation out west.. best wishes.

  • dkidd

    i love that his 2009 major league record consists of 1 seriously bad-ass inning

    • Salty Buggah

      Here’s hoping he pans out and make The Yanks look good and the haters look bad.

      • Salty Buggah

        Damn iPod, that wasn’t supposed to be a reply

    • TheLastClown

      For which I was in attendance :)

  • vin

    Losing Kennedy in the trade definitely hurts the Yanks’ depth this year. I think he’ll end up as a quality mid- to back-end ML starter.

    Unfortunatley for Kennedy, his time in the big leagues was pretty forgettable.

    Seems to me that his best attribute (his control) was his biggest enemy. Whenever I watched him pitch it was as though he thought he could survive by pitching either on, or just off the black. A young guy isn’t going to get the calls needed to thrive that way – also big league hitters have no problem taking balls just off the plate.

    His nibbling approach may work in the minors, or for some big league veterans. But IPK needs to get more aggressive, and improving his breaking ball & 2-seamer will definitely help.

    • scooter

      I agree Vin – improving the curve will keep hitters off his 4-seamer. I THINK IPK started throwing a 2-seamer, too – and that will also help.

      Not sure I get the IPK hate, but whatever

      I really like Nova…. and I’m looking forward to seeing a little ZMac as well. Unless they non-tender Mitre and Gaudin, those 2 are also in the mix.

      Duchsherer might be the perfect vet pickup – solid starter who also has pen experience

      • Salty Buggah

        Well, this post did also state that he’s working in a two-seam fastball so you don’t have be unsure.

        • scooter

          Obviously I need to think less and read more

          This is what I get for multitasking. (I’ve got to put together a 3-day training course on derivatives by Jan 11)

    • pat

      I don’t think he nibbled in the minors. I think he gave pro hitters a little too much credit and tried to throw every pitch a little too perfectly on the black.

      • vin

        I’m not sure if he nibbled in the minors – I never saw him pitch down there. I know people have speculated that he only started nibbling once he got to the big leagues because he gave the hitters too much respect.

        Doesn’t really matter though – I bet he sticks with the Diamondbacks out of ST. They have the “luxury” of letting him figure it out in the big leagues.

        • dkidd

          if he manages to be a solid #4 behind webb/haren/jackson, arizona might have a chance in that division

  • seth kaufman

    i know its not related, but wanted to get a point off before the comments shoot up.

    How can you guys say Melky cant contribute or should be traded? He had a huge impact in that clubhouse. His intensity, timely hitting, (I think) above average defense with a great arm, and his personality. He is the connection to get Cano, and (future) Cervelli, and Gardner all connected and comfortable on the club. I love Melky and think he has a starting spot on the team. I think Damon should be resigned as a DH only or, we turn to Matsui.

    • Salty Buggah

      This will not end well.

    • vin

      He is the connection to get Cano, and (future) Cervelli, and Gardner all connected and comfortable on the club.

      Sounds like you’ve developed a nice little narrative there – but I’ll reserve that kind of judgement, seeing as how I’ve never been in the Yankee clubhouse.

      • TheLastClown

        Vin, stop being ignorant. A close chemistry between the starting 2b & three bench players is what sets championship caliber clubs apart!

        I hear that last season Rocco Baldelli, Casey Kotchman & Jed Lowrie took turns walking Dusty to the groomer, and that’s why the Red Sox won #27!!

    • whozat

      “i know its not related, but wanted to get a point off before the comments shoot up.”

      If you want to talk about this, do so in the open thread later. Please abide by the commenting guidelines.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      Please read the commenting guidelines and then go sit in the corner for 5 minutes.

  • mustang

    Way too much hype and a little too much mouth, but he is still young maybe hopefully this will be better for him. No one knows what the future holds maybe he will be back in pinstripes someday.

    • whozat

      I don’t understand why people tend to hold hype against the player himself, as though these kids have some kind of marketing team that’s putting this stuff out there. And the “mouth” nonsense is based on one comment two years ago. Isn’t that kind of ridiculous?

      • mustang

        I don’t blame the kid for the hype I blame everyone else for taking his minor league and college success and blowing it up to more then it’s worth. Thus adding unnecessary pressure to a young and developing pitcher.
        And it’s been more than one comment if I remember correctly one after the Angles game and a second after he got sent down. But he was young and kids make mistake thus the words “little too much mouth”.

        • mustang

          PS- Strange how Hughes went though similar struggles yet manage to keep his mouth closed and he came with a lot more hype.

        • TheLastClown

          To be fair, how do you know his college & minor league success was blown up to “more than it’s worth?”

          Come on already. He’s had such a small sample you have no idea where his mean plateau is going to settle in MLB. He could be a perfectly serviceable young #4 in AZ, which is a great achievement for a human being who has chosen to play baseball.

          Also, he shot through the Yankee minor leagues. He showed plenty of promise, and even looked good against MLB hitters in 07.

          Further, why do you think AZ accepted him as the auxiliary piece in a deal which saw them relinquish two of their top prospects? Maybe they don’t have such a doom-&-gloom-y attitude towards him?

          Also, if a kid pitches & gets lit up, I want him to take away positive things from the experience, to use in bettering himself. Personally, I work in entertainment, and when I work with an actor or other artist, I try to get them to see what they’re doing right, rather than have them focus on what’s wrong. If you harp on the negatives, you’re not going to improve. It works in all facets of life. If he came off cocky, or arrogant, it was probably because he felt like shit & wanted the interview to end. People make such a big deal out of this kind of stuff, when there are analogous situations in all of our lives.

          • mustang

            “Come on already. He’s had such a small sample you have no idea where his mean plateau is going to settle in MLB. He could be a perfectly serviceable young #4 in AZ”

            Never said he won’t be like I said a few time I just think people hype him too much.

          • mustang

            I have no problem with him “take away positive things” and understand what you are saying just keep it out of the media. ” No Comment” is easy to say.

    • r.w.g.

      hey it’s mustang.

      • mustang

        Thank you for your input in the argument.

        • r.w.g.

          No problem. I’m just psyched I was able to contribute to the same argument you’ve been bringing up for 2 years now. It’s a real honor.

          • mustang

            The same 2 years that people have been trying to make IPK more then what he is so far.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    Max called in a request that you include this picture at the top of your post. (links=safe)

    • TheLastClown

      Anyone else feel like Hughes, IPK, & Shelley look normal, as in lightheartedly uncomfortable about the whole experience, while Joba looks like one of their special little brothers who wanted to dress up & join in the fun?

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Totally agree about Joba looking goofy, but IPK’s looking pretty comfy in his costume, to me.

        • thurdonpaul

          lol, i agree IPK looks a little tooooo comfortable

          • TheLastClown

            Dude, if I was a young ballplayer & the Yankees dressed me up like Dorothy…I’d be beaming too! :)

  • Jake H

    I know Kennedy rubbed some fans the wrong way. But remember this is a guy who was young and I while his comments upset me. I chuck it up to youth. I hope he does well in Arizona and gets a chance to shine. I would like to see him have a good career.

    Remember that he was one of our guys and while if he pitched against the Yanks I would want him to get beat. I will root for him any other time.

  • Tank the Frank

    Ok, so which recently traded young Yankee will have the best major league career?

    Tabata, Jackson, IPK, Ohlendorf, McCutchen?

    No reason to include relievers or Jeff Karstens IMO.

    I’m going with Tabata. Something tells me he’ll turn out to be a hell of a major league hitter and I think he’s at least average defensively.

    • OldYanksFan

      Man… seeing that list makes me a little weepy.
      If they trade Montero, I will have a full blown cry.
      I guess when Cashman said ‘youth movement’, he meant other teams youts.

  • Omar

    The Moose comparisons were absolutely ridiculous. Radke, was a much more realistic comparison, though still a massive stretch. Kennedy had health problems and terribleness problems. His walk rates in the minors wasn’t really good enough for someone with his stuff. Pitchers with stuff similar to his usually get fucked pretty hard in the AL East. Unless he had pinpoint command, he wasn’t going to go far, and he did not have pinpoint command.