Jul
07

Possible trade target: Adam Kennedy

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The 2010 trade deadline is now just 24 days away, and we know GM Brian Cashman considers the bench to be the team’s biggest weakness right now. It’s safe to say that they’re going to bring someone in from outside the organization to shore things between now and then, it’s just a matter of who. We’ve already looked at Jeff Keppinger, Ty Wigginton, David DeJesus, and Octavio Dotel as trade possibilities, so let’s move on to another potential fit: Adam Kennedy.

Photo Credit: Matt Slocum, AP

The Angels won a whole lotta games last decade with a middle infield of Kennedy and David Eckstein, which kinda blows my mind. You’ve got to be strong up the middle to win, yet Kennedy’s .349 wOBA in 2002 was the greatest offensive production the team got out of either player during their time in Anaheim. Both players have since moved on, shacking up in St. Louis for a few years before Eckstein landed in Toronto, Arizona, and San Diego while Kennedy headed to Durham (minor leagues), Oakland, and now Washington.

Strictly a utility player at this point, Kennedy can play everywhere but shortstop, so right off the bat the Yankees would have to carry an extra player to spell Derek Jeter on occasion. His defensive value at first (-2.3 UZR over the last three seasons), second (+0.7), and third (-5.3) are nothing special at all, but they aren’t horrific and Kennedy could also fake a corner outfield spot in an emergency. He’s not going to remind anyone of Ramiro Pena with the glove, but he’ll hold his own.

On the bases, I was actually surprised to see that Kennedy was so successful at swiping bases. He’s a perfect nine-for-nine in stolen base attempts this year, and 36-for-43 (83.7% success rate) over the last three seasons. In non-stolen base baserunning situations (like moving up on grounders, sac flies, taking the extra base, etc.), Baseball Prospectus says he’s added just about three runs to his team’s ledger, which is a solid total. Quite simply, the guy is a very sound baserunner, a not tremendously important skill but one that’s appreciated. No one likes baserunning gaffes.

Photo Credit: Haraz N. Ghanbari, AP

Bench players are almost never anything special with the stick; if they were, they’d be starters somewhere. Kennedy’s lone above average offensive season since 2005 came last year with the A’s (.337 wOBA), though there’s nothing in the peripherals to suggest a massive fluke except a somewhat inflated BABIP (.326). Perhaps it was just a dead cat bounce season for the 34-year-old, since he did revert to his sub-.310 wOBA form this year. The offensive skill set is a simple one: Kennedy makes a lot of contact (88.8%) and slaps the ball into the ground (46.3% grounders), so he doesn’t really drive the ball and hit for power (.107 ISO even with last year). He is a lefty batter, so he’s got that going for him.

Putting it all together, you’ve got a an average (at best) defensive player, a below average offensive player, and an above average baserunner, which for all intents and purposes equals a below average player. Kennedy has been replacement level all season (-0.1 WAR), so it would be foolish to expect him to be anything more than a half-a-win player in the second half, which is what the Yanks got out of Jerry Hairston Jr. last year. There’s about $600,000 left on Kennedy’s contract this year with a $500,000 buyout of his $2M option for next season, so the (monetary)cost isn’t prohibitive. Maybe Cashman could get the Nationals to kick in some money, like he did with the Pirates and Eric Hinske last year.

Kennedy’s trade value is so small that I’m not even going to bother to run him through Sky Kalkman’s trade value calculator. We’re talking a Grade-C prospect at best, maybe a guy in Double-A if the Nats kick in a few hundred grand. Looking at the Yanks’ system, that means someone like Zoilo Almonte or Sean Black or Lance Pendleton. No one that will hurt. There hasn’t been any indication that Washington is actively shopping their utility infielder, but they’d be foolish not to listen.

Between Kennedy, Wigginton, and Keppinger, the three guys I’ve previewed, I’d go with Kennedy. Wigginton is a newly minted All Star and has some name recognition that will boost his perceived value beyond his actual value (.198/.314/.260 in his last 156 plate appearances), and Keppinger was never anything special to start with. Like it or not, Kennedy’s playoff and World Series experience does give him a leg up over the other two guys, especially since all three are just as likely to suck.

Categories : Bench

32 Comments»

  1. Rose says:

    Putting it all together, you’ve got a an average (at best) defensive player, a below average offensive player, and an above average baserunner, which for all intents and purposes equals a below average player.

    Survey says!POINTLESS

  2. Not Tank the Frank says:

    I can has Eduardo Nunez???

  3. gxpanos says:

    “Like it or not, Kennedy’s playoff and World Series experience does give him a leg up over the other two guys, especially since all three are just as likely to suck.”

    Huh?

    The leg up comes from his being better than Keppinger and cheaper (in prospects) than Wiggy, no?

  4. red5993 says:

    i signed him in mlb 10 the show and hes hitting .365 with 2 hrs in like 75 pas. cant complain

  5. Rose says:

    Over/Under on comments in this thread? 50

    Whatta ya say?

  6. A.D. says:

    I guess if he cost essentially nothing it would be nice to be able to spell A-Rod, but with not much bat I’d prefer someone who can actually play SS.

    Personally Counsell would be my favorite if he’s available

  7. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    I have a name for you, DAVID ECKSTEIN!!!! How do you like them apples?

  8. Jorge says:

    Where is Bert Campaneris when you need him? He did play all nine positions in a single game once.

    Did anyone ever play Pure Stat Baseball on the Commodore 64 back in the day? I created a team named “All-Bert” which had him at all nine positions. They weren’t very good.

    Just say “no” to Adam Kennedy, btw.

  9. Angelo says:

    Just get someone who can play all positions in the infield (excluding firstbase) with a better bat than Pena’s. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Let’s go get Mark DeRosa. Oh wait a bat better than Pena? Nevermind.

    • pat says:

      Usually those guys are starting for other teams.

    • Mike HC says:

      exactly, except for the not too hard part.

      I think deals like this are actually tougher than the big time deals. The decisions with the deals for stars is easy. It’s either make the trade or don’t. The player is easy to find and obvious (he is an all star, see Cliff Lee) and the pieces to trade are relatively obvious (your top prospects, usually only a choice between 2-3 guys).

      With a utility, bench guy, you have to get a bit more creative. For one, there are a bunch of guys to fill that role, as RAB has laid out about three already (and there are many other options) and two, there is a much larger pool of guys that the other team may want.

      The ramifications of the decision is much larger in trading for a star, but the actual logistics and creativity in trading for a utility guy is tougher, in my opinion. (I might not have explained that too well, and definitely wrote too much, but I am completely drained today)

  10. Manimal says:

    What about lance berkman? I read an article in sporting news about the yankees trying to trade for him for a PH/DH

    • Slugger27 says:

      he can’t play anywhere but 1st, plus he’s finished.

    • Mike HC says:

      I don’t like the idea of trading for a guy that might not give us any better production than a Thames/Miranda combo, or Nick Johnson coming back, or Delgado, Dye or another free agent I can’t think of right now, may give us.

      A guy like Kennedy I actually like, because he has established that he can at least hold his own at the plate, and is very smooth with the glove. I don’t think we can find that anywhere else, and our top minor leaguers have been given the chance to prove they could, but they have not gotten the job done.

  11. UpstateSteve says:

    Was just looking at MLBTR and was thinking of Cristian Guzman for the middle infield…probably too much money though for a backup right?

    • Mike HC says:

      He would be a great guy to have off the bench, but would probably cost too much in money, as you said, and prospects.

      Plus, it seems like the Nats want to win as many games as possible this year, even if they have only a small chance at the playoffs.

  12. LarryM, FL. says:

    Keep sending Pena out there. He should see more playing time in the second half which should mean more productive numbers. Young guys have difficulty at first making contact with infrequent AB’s.

    • I Voted for Kodos says:

      They also have trouble when they’re not very good hitters.

      • LarryM, FL. says:

        We keep sending Francisco out there. The only reason he gets a hit every now and again is do to the amounts of AB’s. ( Good glove no bat) Hopefully the Yanks are looking to remedy the Posada backup situation.

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