The Howie Kendrick Signing Grew On Me

 

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It’s late January and it’s a slow time unless you’re an infielder on the Dodgers 40 man roster. The depth chart was shaken up with the news that Howie Kendrick is coming back on a 2 year 20 million dollar deal, which is huge news because a mere 12 days ago, the reports said that the Dodgers preferred the compensatory draft pick to Howie Kendrick. The pick would have landed in the mid-30’s under the new Qualifying Offer based system and given how the new front office has done it’s best to hoard young talent, the only way Howie was coming back was on a super team friendly deal which is exactly what happened.

I, admittedly was pretty “meh” about the signing initially, Kendrick is a 33 year old second baseman who doesn’t really have the bat to play the OF or 1b, and doesn’t have the flexibility to play any other infield position.

His defense seemed to slip a little bit last seasons and he doesn’t walk a whole lot. Don’t get me wrong, lots of teams would love to have a player like Kendrick; I was certain he was heading back to Anaheim because the Angels are currently starting Johnny Giavotella who I’ve never, ever heard of, I imagine the Yankees could have used depth if Starlin Castro continues to be one of the most inconsistent players in baseball, the Padres need productive players, the Orioles aren’t totally set at second base, heck the Diamondbacks were almost a sure destination for him, the White Sox need good infielders, the list goes on and on and on, but ultimately the draft pick was so bad for his market in hindsight I bet he wishes he would have taken that qualifying offer.

And look, second baseman aren’t supposed to be exciting players, they’re not good enough to play around in the infield, they can’t hit enough to play 1b, but they’re just valuable enough to not be in the outfield.

The thing that bothers me is the fact that the total PA’s that Enrique Hernandez is sure to decline, after last season I think that Kiké deserved to have a full time gig after hitting .307 with 7 home runs, and a 132 wRC+ in in 218 PA’s. Granted, he only had a .592 OPS against same handed pitching in 131 PA’s, which is obviously a problem however his 2014 splits against same handed pitching showed a .796 OPS against right handed pitchers. From a scouting perspective, hitting right handed pitching has always been the knock against Hernandez so questioning whether he’s an everyday type of player is fair, however his career OPS against same handed pitching sits at .679, 15 points below Mark Ellis’ career mark against same handed pitching.

Hitting that mark is by no means an impossibility and having everyday reps against right handed hitting could mean for improvement. Ellis was an everyday starter at second base for a long time and Ellis never had the ability to mash left handers quite as well as Enrique.

However everyday PA’s for Hernandez were never going to be a thing with Chase Utley on the roster. And here is where the argument turns in favor of the Howie situation, Utley was worth 13.0 runs below average last season, after his ankle injury subsided he raised his wRC+ 20 points (!) to 84 (¡), a respectable number for a backup, but to be the primary member of a platoon? Meh. Utley also just turned 37 years old, it’s not an outlandish thing to suggest that he’s totally done, many speculated he’d retire after the slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg last year.

If Utley is cooked the team is then dipping into its prospect ranks, which is code for “Micah Johnson”. Micah Johnson is a fascinating prospect that appears to know how to hit a baseball very well, but I’ll just say that his scouting reports sound an awful lot like Alex Guerrero’s scouting reports. The best second baseman prospects are those who haven’t made the switch from shortstop and Johnson is currently starting at 2b so hoping he’s the immediate answer is a difficult proposition at best for him.

It appears that the team wants to keep Austin Barnes Catching full time because Yasmani Grandal cannot get through a full season healthy, and neither can AJ Ellis’ knees.

At this point the team was looking at everyday PA’s for Kiké which I don’t believe is an absurd idea, but again, there is a strong likelihood that he doesn’t figure out right handed pitching during his first time getting everyday PA’s. I also understand the argument for finding the next Ben Zobrist and Hernandez is pretty close to being that.

Ultimately Howie Kendrick eases up SO much pressure on the second base platoon, considering the team doesn’t have enough high end talent to make up for a black hole, this is absolutely a good thing and it doesn’t hurt that Kendrick doesn’t have to be a star to live up to a 20 million dollar deal heck Gerardo Parra got 27.5 million dollars, guaranteed! The Kendrick move made me feel much better about this offseason.

Adrian Garcia

Adrian Garcia

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41 thoughts on “The Howie Kendrick Signing Grew On Me

    1. You could look at the deal for Hendricks in this way, Dodgers got 1 year at the qualified offer of 15.5 mil and an extra year at 4.5 mil. A good deal unless Howie falls apart totally or is chronically injured.

  1. I’m happy Howie is back. He’s very solid but it makes the signing it Utley (who I also like), all the stranger? Especially @ $7m!!
    This is why I can’t have all the hype surrounding Faz. There is no master plan, just a lot of smoke & mirrors.
    One day they want the draft pick, the next it’s not so important.
    To get Howie on a 2 year deal for that money is great, but of course offset by the money they’re giving Utley.
    How many 2B do we need?

    Maybe Kiki is expendable now & there is a Trade in the offing?

    So much seems to depend on Joc & Puig finding their stroke. If they struggle again then I fear for us offensively.

    I would still like to see an 8 th innings guy – Carter Capps would be my choice & we have lots of pieces that the Marlins would like.

    1. I think this is more about opportunity and flexibility than not having a plan.

      There is a saying that goes something like no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.

      I’m happier that FAZ didn’t doggedly stay with their plan when the situations changed or opportunities became available.

      Was resigning Howie their first choice? Probably not but it’s not a bad choice. Signing Utley is not as critical now as it was when he was signed, but if the opportunity to resign Howie at a fair price had not come along we would have regretted not signing Utley

  2. Wonder what is coming next — another SS at $12,000,000. Or, another outfielder when we have: Crawford, Ethier, Guerrero, Hernandez, Pederson, Puig, Thompson, Van Slyke — yes, let sign someone to $14,000,000.

  3. So this big idea of being the Yankees of the N.L. West are gone. Cut the budget, bring it down — be like Oakland, Tampa Bay, and Pittsburgh. Get re-treds, aging almost stars who cannot get on with another club, more surgery to be players, even draft players that will have a Tommy John, and hope for the best. Sign players from other countries, they trade them or hide them in the minors.

    This is the plan I see. And some of you like this ??????

    1. I’m not crazy about getting older and signing medevacs, but I am looking down the road to the year our top prospects are on the field. A few in here believe that once we have those young players in the lineup, we will be playing for championships every year. Maybe they are right. It hasn’t worked for Tampa or Oakland, butI look forward to seeing if it does work for us.

  4. Adrian. I don’t know who you are, but I like you. That was a solid article!

    Scott, I’m glad you’ve revived this blog. It’s the sharp folks in the comments section that made this blog so informative and engaging….although polemically repetitive at times.

    1. Howie cost 20 million dollars. What would Utley and Kike cost? I saw Utley on TV today at the Dodger thing, and I really think that Utley is going to do everything he can, to win the second base job. I feel that way, because Chase is so competitive. That is good for the Dodgers, and fun for both Chase and Howie. Joc also said that the new hitting coach was working with him this week. And I believe that Joc said that he was working on the mechanics on his swing, and trying to make his swing shorter.

  5. I like this post, and I believe that a platoon of Kendrick and Utley at 2B could be potentially devastating. But, I’m not a fan of the signing because it may block Hernandez and/or Johnson, however it gives the team tremendous flexibility. Dig this: the season will tell the story. Having Kendrick and Utley on the team is a plus!

    I do think it’s wrong to say that “hitting right handed pitching has always been the knock against Hernandez” when he only has 194 career AB’s against RH pitching! I mean, after 10 years, it’s safe to say that Andre Ethier can’t hit lefties, but it’s way too soon to say that Kike can’t hit RH pitching. Maybe that’s right, but I don’t buy it yet. Hell, Kike hits RH better than Andre hits LH.

    The bottom line is that Kendrick may not have signed until June, so a two year deal at $20 million is a bargain. There could be more trades or maybe it’s just depth in case of injury. Either way, how can anyone knock this deal… until the season plays out?

    I’ll bet no one can predict what the opening day roster looks like….

  6. Watford Dodger: “There is no master plan, just a lot of smoke & mirrors”.

    Watford, there is a plan, see SoCalGrinch’s response right below your post. FAZ is taking what is given to them. Kendrick at $20m for two years is a steal. ALL of FAZ’s free agent signings this year are incredible deals. Loving how the team is shaping up, Puig at 7% body fat, down 20 lbs.

    Baseball GMing is tough, how would you like this plan? The Dbacks have traded their 1st pick from 2015, 1st and 4th picks from 2014, and 2nd, 3rd, and 4th picks from 2013, but they wouldn’t give up a 2nd rd. pick for Howie. Epic Fail.

    Loved SoCalGrinch’s statement, “There is a saying that goes something like no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy”. So true, in war and baseball GMing. Dodger system is STACKED, other teams are envious. I am sure FAZ has been working overtime on the quality for quantity deal. This will require patience, both teams need to feel like they are winning when they deal. Don’t know if it will come before start of season. We shall see!!!

  7. Wonder how Utley feels having signed for $7 million and now his new best buddy for playing 2nd base when he (Utley) is not playing is making $20 for 2 years !!! And — if they use the left / righty thing, Utley might play more because of facing more right handed pitchers.

    And, Dan Uggla is still unsigned — why not, he is a 2nd baseman . . .

    Hey, I believe that Edwin Jackson is still available . . . nab him. And if his phone is busy, Aaron Harang is still out there. Or, Randy Choate is only 40 and looking for just one more season right now. After 15 years in the biggs, he is under 4 for lifetime ERA. He would fit right in.

    But do not sign Tyler Clippart — he looked terrible in the postseason against the Dodgers.

  8. Patience. I agree with that.

    Kendrick will be 33 this year and is coming off a 1.1 WAR year. He only played 117 games last year and is projected to do about the same thing this year but for some reason fangraphs is seeing him at 2 WAR. Under the circumstances I would be thrilled if that happens. He and Utley are 70 years old and together they may make one Cano, but I doubt it. By the way, Kendrick was given a raise. Utley? Hard to say isn’t it. He might be this year’s Rollins. We got both those guys a few years too late. I have Utley at at .250 – maybe. I still would have gone with Hernandez. I don’t understand why these guys made the trades for guys like Hernandez and Peraza, and give a guy like Olivera over $60 million only to not play them.

    W….. I get it. And I understand where you’re coming from Roger. It looks like the plan for hitting the bullseye is to throw more darts than anyone else. And some of the darts are missing feathers.

    It looks to me like the success of the Dodgers offense pivots on the same players that were here last year. Hopefully the overhaul of the coaching and training staff will be the answer in improving success rates. Pitching? Gulp. Could be great. But it also could be our Achilles heel.

    And having viewed the FAZaratus in operation for about 16 months I anticipate about thirtyleven more moves before Opening Day. What you now see is not what you will then get.

  9. I expect an NPUT at any moment, maybe before I click on the post button so I might re-post this profound comment 🙂

    It has to be close to 100% of everybody here that thinks that the 2016 Dodger season’s success will be determined by how well Puig, Pederson, and Grandal, and Seager play. Optimists think they will do well enough and pessimists will say they will not play well enough to carry the team to victory.

    So, here is my optimist lineup:

    CF Pederson
    RF Puig
    SS Seager
    3B Turner
    C Grandal
    1B Gonzales
    2B Kendrick
    LF Ethier

    I would guess that the Pessimist’ lineup would be this:

    2B Kendrick
    LF Ethier
    1B Gonazles
    3B Turner
    SS Seager
    C Grandal
    RF Puig
    CF Pederson

    1. I will say this, I haven’t seen many interviews with Kike, but yesterday when he was interviewed he was being sarcastic. I don’t know if that is his personality, or that he was doing his best, to not show his disappointment. He acted like a A, so I hope he is not like this all the time. I personally would be disapointed if I was Kike, so if that was his issue, I understand. Alana asked Friedman and the GM, if they were finished with the bullpen, and Faz said they are finished and not actively trying to do anymore, but if something comes along, of course they would be open to it. So it is exactly like everyone is saying here. from what I have read, most of the coaches that have been hired, or guys that are go getters, so they may not have the same experience that some of the Dodgers older former coaches had, but they will make up for this, by doing everything they can, to make this team better, and every player on the team better. And that is not to say that they have no experience. I know that Utley is older then Howie, but does it seem to everyone here, that Utley moves better then Howie, especially on the bases, or is this just me?

    2. Turner is no 4 hole hitter…that is where your best RBI guy goes, and until it is proven different, that is Gonzo. Pederson is no leadoff hitter. Sure, he walks a lot, but you need someone to set the table, and Joc strikes out way too much. If CC is starting that is probably his role.

      1. I agree Micahel. AGon is the best cleanup hitter we have. And he might be the only guy that is on the field night after night. If Pederson has cleared his head from his ass he is my choice for leadoff. Yes, he DID strike out too much. Hopefully he will learn how to be a much better two strike hitter. If he does that he can get on at .380 – and the only other guys I see that can do that I want in the middle of the order. Using last year’s results as a template, we don’t have a leadoff hitter. If Ward and Co. can get through to these guys, we can change some poor tendencies and score. If he doesn’t get through to them, it will be deja vu all over again.

        Here’s a scoop – Corey Seager won’t .337 and OPS .986 again. But I do like him in the 2 hole until the league figures him out. As you know I like LH contact hitters there. With a runner on first 38+% of the time when he gets up in the first inning putting that runner in motion creates holes all over the infield and there’s a good chance your #3 hitter will come up with runners at first and third and nobody out. That is how I intend to start every game as a manager.

        That said, the computer will likely dictate lineup policy again. If, for example, CC is hitting .350 against today’s starter, he’s in the lineup and he’s in the 2 hole. That protocol is here to stay.

      2. I’d like seeing the best at getting on base being how the lineup is designed as that way there’s chance those would have more at bats. The leadoff leads off how many innings? I think there’d be more walk offs and games won in the later innings more often that the standard leadoff reaching home in the first inning only. The lineups could even fallow the same order but put the better hitters where they get the most at bats. Besides all that, I just like being different, can’t help it.

      3. Turner was awesome with runners on base. He might not be the stereotypical cleanup hitter but he has performed as well as the quintessential / prototypical cleanup hitter in both 2014 and 2015. He is the most clutch hitter on the Dodgers.

    3. I don’t know how to judge whether I’m a optimist or pessimist and, Bums, your two lineups offer no help for me to make that determination. Each of those lineups are mostly true for the 1st inning only and both offer about the same in potential strengths and weaknesses. Actually identical strengths and weaknesses. Optimism blends well with hope and it’s hard to tell what I’m more full of. And ‘shit’ comes to my mind as well as some of you to answer that one. Thus I’d have to say I’m part pessimist and part optimist. But I feel pretty good and I’m getting more excited daily as winter closes towards spring. PEACE and CHEERS, friends. And GO DODGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Lol okay, the same applies for me with those mentioned and my life accordingly. I just don’t know the levels at optimism, pessimism and shit. Please keep me uninformed on that one, I’d likely rather not be made aware. There’s a high level I’m optimistic saying that………or not.

  10. Nice to have a couple veterans to start off. It’s my hope that one of the two 2B veterans gets traded a couple months into the season. Someone will have to patch a hole and if things work out let’s get the kids working more. Good insurance, but let’s see how these assets help us move forward.

  11. I agree that Puig can have the biggest impact – good or bad – I hope that Dave Robert’s approach works (he wants Puig to be Puig). Pederson is also a key – I have no opinion which way he will go. I believe Seager will be worthy of his accolades and who knows if Grandal will recover his power this year or if it will take another? What I do know is this:

    1. There will likely be some unexpected injuries; and
    2. Even if the Dodgers had signed Greinke he was never going to put up the numbers he did last year. His 1.66 ERA will not be repeated. Most likely, the Dodgers have to replace a #2 with a 2.60 to 2.70 ERA (that’s what Zack had in 2013 ands 2014). That makes our current #2 (Kazmir) look a whole lot better. Don’t compare him to the 1.66 ERA Greinke. COmpare Kazmir’s 3.55 and 2.38 ERA with Oakland the past two years. When you look at it like that, the gap isn’t as wide.

    I think it’s likely the Dodgers pitching will be greatly improved this year with the sheer depth they have acquired plus injured pitchers coming back and prospects possibly coming up. Over all, the Dodgers have a great deal of flexibility. Consider this:

    (16) Legitimate Options for Starting Pitchers:
    Kershaw, Kazmir, Wood, Anderson, Maeda, Bolsinger, Cotton, Frias, Lee, Mccarthy, Montas, Ryu, Stripling, Urias, De Leon, Beachey

    (3) Legitimate Options for Starting Catchers:
    Grandal, Ellis, Barnes

    (6) Legitimate Options for Starting First Basemen:
    Gonzalez, Van Slyke, Kendrick, Utley, Grandal, Turner

    (8) Legitimate Options for Starting Second Basemen:
    Utley, Hernandez, Kendrick, Barnes, Johnson, Turner, Guerrero, Hererra

    (2) Legitimate Options for Starting Shortstop:
    Seager, Hererra

    (8) Legitimate Options for Starting Second Basemen:
    Utley, Hernandez, Kendrick, Barnes, Turner, Guerrero, Hererra, Seager

    (7) Legitimate Options for Starting Left Fielders
    Hernandez, Johnson, Guerrero, Crawford, Thompson, Van Slyke, Ethier

    (4) Legitimate Options for Starting Center Fielders:
    Hernandez, Johnson, Pederson, Thompson

    (5) Legitimate Options for Starting Right Fielders
    Puig, Hernandez, Thompson, Van Slyke, Ethier

    This team has lots of options at every position. Literally, anyone could be traded if another team has a need due to injury. Who gets hot and hits is who will play. I’m not saying this will happen, but if Turner and Grandal start the year on the DL, this could be the lineup:

    1. Johnson CF
    2. Kendrick 2B
    3. Seager SS
    4. Puig RF
    5. Gonzalez 1B
    6. Barnes C
    7. Utley 2B
    8. Thompson RF

    I won’t even predict what will happen, but it looks like there could be open competition at almost every position.

    1. MM with those many options, and with so many buttons to push, I am so glad that Mattingly won’t be picking or touching those buttons!

  12. I don’t remember where I read it but, Puig has put up his best numbers leading off. With that being the case how about these lineups.

    Right handed starter Left handed
    Puig RF Puig RF
    Seager SS Seager SS
    Turner 3B Turner 3B
    Agon 1B Agon 1B
    Utley 2B Kendrick 2B
    Grandal C Ellis C
    Ethier or Crawford LF Van Slyke or Hernandez LF
    Pederson CF Hernandez or Thompson if he makes the 25 man.

    I do think Kendrick will get the majority of the starts at 2B and some how Utley and Hernandez will manage to get 350 to 400 at bats each. I still think a trade to an AL team of 2 of Ethier or Crawford and Van Slyke or Guerrero is possible before the start of the season.

  13. That didn’t work too well

    Left handed starter
    Puig RF
    Seager SS
    Turner 3B
    Agon 1B
    Kendrick 2B
    Ellis C
    Van Slyke or Hernandez LF
    Hernandez or Thompson if he makes the 25 man

    Right Handed starter
    Puig RF
    Seager SS
    Turner 3B
    Agon 1B
    Utley 2B
    Grandal C
    Ethier or Crawford LF
    Pederson CF

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