Phillies Notebook: Decision due soon on Kendrick

Posted: August 30, 2013

NEW YORK - Kyle Kendrick glanced at his phone the other day and saw a message from one of his brothers. It was video of their dad, Maury Kendrick, pitching.

The elder Kendrick plays on an amateur team with Kyle's brothers.

"He still pitches and he's in his 50s," Kyle Kendrick said of his dad. "He was blessed with good genetics and a healthy arm."

Apparently it's the gift that keeps giving, as the same genetic trait was passed on to Kendrick.

Kendrick, 29, has never spent a day on the disabled list, not even in the minor leagues. Kendrick's durability is probably his greatest asset, one that will aid him this winter when he pursues a new contract.

While the Phillies re-signed Chase Utley a month ago and plan to play the waiting game with soon-to-be-free agent Carlos Ruiz, Kendrick is another of the six players who remain from the 2008 world championship team about whom the team has to make a decision. Kendrick is in the second year of a 2-year, $7.5 million deal.

He is arbitration-eligible this winter and can become a free agent after the 2014 season.

"Obviously I've thought about it - it's my future, my career," Kendrick said. "I want to be here. I feel like I haven't pitched horrible enough to be gone."

Kendrick is 10-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 starts this season. But after posting a 3.22 ERA through his first 13 starts, Kendrick has a 5.70 ERA in his last 14.

"I haven't been pitching any different," he said. "You just get some luck going. Early on I had some luck, had balls hit at guys, I was getting some run support, getting [wins]. In the second half, I've had more balls hit into the holes."

Kendrick has a point. In the aforementioned starts, opponents had a .272 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in the first 13 games; in the last 14 games, the BABIP is at .342. Kendrick's career BABIP is .292, generally considered the norm.

Of course, stats can only tell so much of a story, too. Kendrick hasn't pitched badly in his last three starts; he gave up just one earned run against the Mets on Tuesday and, two starts ago against Colorado, had allowed one run in five innings before serving up a three-run home run in the sixth.

Then again, one or two bad pitches can decide a game, as Kendrick has found out lately.

So will he be back in 2014?

Even though Kendrick is arbitration-eligible, the Phils could choose to non-tender him in December, making him a free agent a year early. Given the uncertainty of their starting pitching - and the constant need for depth given the injuries that arise in the rotation each year - Kendrick's durability remains an asset, however.

But at what cost?

An interesting comparison could be made to another one-time durable Phillies righthander: Joe Blanton. Four years ago, the Phillies faced a similar situation with Blanton, who was entering his final year of arbitration in 2010.

When the arbitration process began with Blanton, then 29, with both sides posting salary requests, the player asked for $10.25 million while the team offered $7.5 million. Eventually the two sides avoided the arbitration process altogether and agreed to a 3-year, $24 million contract.

It was a contract the Phillies would come to regret as Blanton struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.

Blanton's numbers entering that winter, however, are strikingly similar to Kendrick career numbers.

Following the 2009 season, Blanton was 63-54 with a 4.21 ERA in 166 games (162 starts) in parts of six seasons with Oakland and the Phillies. Entering his Sunday start at Wrigley Field, Kendrick is 64-53 with a 4.32 ERA in 191 games (150 starts) in parts of seven seasons with the Phillies.

Again, it would seem unlikely for the Phillies to repeat the Blanton mistake with Kendrick, but they still find a way to bring him back in 2014 if they believe he’s worth somewhere between $8-$10 million (a rough estimate to what he’d get via arbitration).

“I’ve been healthy, taking the ball every fifth day,” Kendrick said. “If I’m not here, I’ll be somewhere, I know that.”

Asche update

Cody Asche could return to the lineup as soon as this afternoon.

The rookie third baseman was held out of yesterday's game at Citi Field because he still felt some soreness in his right hamstring. Asche was removed from Wednesday's game in the seventh inning with what was termed a mild hamstring strain.

"He had a lot of treatments today . . . which was a good thing," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He was pretty optimistic. He hit in the cage a little bit. It's basically a day-to day-thing. I'm hoping for [today], wouldn't be surprised with [today], but if it's a couple of days, it's a couple of days."

Phillers

Ryne Sandberg is likely to hear a standing ovation this afternoon. Sandberg and the Phillies begin a three-game series at Wrigley Field, where Sandberg played 15 seasons of his Hall of Fame career . . . Roy Halladay will make his second start since returning from the disabled list this afternoon. Halladay allowed two runs on four hits in six innings of a 9-5 win over Arizona on Sunday. The 36-year-old righthander, who will be a free agent after the season, had arthroscopic shoulder surgery on May 15 . . . Phillies minor league righthander Gustavo Armas has been suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Armas is a member of the Venezuela Summer League Phillies.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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