Perhaps this post would have been more apropos before his last two Spring Training starts, but I’m pretty sure had he not allowed a hit either time, I would still feel the same way about the Joe Kennedy = Starting Pitcher campaign.
I hated this idea when he filled in for Harden a couple of years ago, and it never ceased to frustrate me when justifications were made, such as ‘He really didn’t pitch that badly’. Well, maybe not, but he still lost just about every start. Although pitchers’ wins are indeed largely dependant on factors like their team’s offensive output, and the performance of the opposing pitcher, there is still something to be said for actually winning games. It wasn’t like Kennedy was losing games 1-0 while pitching lights-out; he simply couldn’t keep the opposition from scoring more runs than the A’s.
Nothing like the feeling of knowing that you’d better win the first four games in a rotation, because you might as well pencil in the "L" for the fifth. After the first month of that experiment, I remember thinking that I would have taken my chances with Kendall as the starting pitcher, because it quite literally couldn’t get worse; we were losing every start anyway. Obviously, the A’s did find a stop-gap solution to the problem; for all of his flaws, Saarloos had the only quality necessary in a fifth starter; in just about every start, he kept the team in the game and gave them a chance to win. He was, by no means, a great pitcher, but everyone knew that with a little more offense than usual, the A’s could come away with a win.
My feelings for Joe Kennedy were hostile at best at the close of the 2005 season, and it took the entirety of 2006 to change my mind. But the change was successful; I went as far as to embrace his "JFK" moniker, standing of course for Joe "F’in" Kennedy, a name he earned after his repeated sixth inning heroics. Kennedy had an excellent season last year in the ‘pen, and although I don’t believe he’s as good overall as those numbers indicate, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him there again.
But as a starting pitcher? No way. Because, like it or not; whether we’re going to talk about it or not, we all know that there is a slim chance that starters 1 through 4 are going to actually be making starts 1 through 4 in the rotation for the entire season (weakest link: see starter 1). While Kennedy is not a terrible 5 starter, there is a better-than-average chance that number 5 will end up being number 4, a slot which Blanton can barely fill, much less Joe Kennedy.
We know what to expect from our fifth starter. At best, he’ll be an average starter and allow the A’s a chance to score some runs for the wins. At worst, he will dig the A’s into irrecoverable deficits every fifth day. But what is the downside on taking a chance on someone else, anyone else, and putting Kennedy back in the ‘pen, where he excelled last year? And what is the downside to doing this now, instead of preparing for the (most likely) rough couple of months ahead? How long of a leash does he have?
- In the last two days, Perez has almost equaled his 2006 hit count.
- Mike Piazza update: Just a bruise. Will be out a couple of games.
- Thanks to longtimefan for the shoutout on the Buan-cast!