Is number 13 the lucky one for Joe Kennedy? You know, the spring training where his ERA stops climbing towards triple digits and starts heading south? Kennedy and his A's mates travel to Peoria to take on the Seattle Mariners.
Sports psychology is extremely interesting to me. The fact that many people speculate that a guy always steps up his game when he is entering a contract year is one of those long held beliefs that I tend to think is true. So it wasn't surprising to hear Billy Beane and Bob Geren both basically saying that Joe Kennedy pretty much had the fifth spot in the rotation nailed down before camp ever opened in Arizona. Kennedy is likely in his last season with the A's and about to hit unrestricted free agency. The dollar signs are dancing around in Kennedy's head as we speak.
At the same time, I also think there's another aspect to sports psychology that could be coming into play with Kennedy's horrific spring. He should've probably been led to believe that he is in a dogfight between Jason Windor, Brad Halsey and Shane Komine for the fifth spot in the rotation. Athletes, given the nature of what they do for their profession, often perform their best when they hear the knocks of youth at their financially secure door. Competitive nature takes over and you get that extra ounce of focus and concentration that can make the difference between a Kennedy who is painting the corners with his fastball and slider and the one who is hanging sliders and serving up meatball fastballs.
The bottom line is that I know that spring training means nothing and that once Kennedy gets into the regular season and sees that huge green light of cash at the end of the tunnel, he will probably turn it on a notch. But I still think it would've been good if he felt the hot breath of youth on his neck. Windsor hasn't really provided that for Kennedy. Neither has Halsey. Komine had a good start yesterday, but that's the first time that any of the potential number five pitchers has really done anything good. If Kennedy continues to struggle, the chances are that he will still wind up with the fifth spot simply because none of the other potential competitors have shown anything to make Geren, Beane and company to think otherwise. And the fact remains that I still think that once the regular season hits, you will likely see a different Kennedy for the above-mentioned reasons. Hey, it's human nature.