2012 in brief: Recipient of highly questionable contract was at least “mediocre” rather than the expected “horrendous”.
2013 status: Free agent. Infield logjam and presence of Nick Punto probably ends Kennedy’s Dodger career.
Just look at Adam Kennedy‘s picture there, won’t you? There’s dirt on his uniform, as I’m sure there is when he wakes up in the morning. It’s so… gritty. Sure, he’s probably running out yet another weak ground out to the right side, but look at how hard he’s doing it! What a gamer. You can tell he’s playing the game the right way.
…and so on. Look, we spent a lot of time ridiculing the signing of an older, terrible player on a severe decline to a seemingly needless guaranteed contract before November was even over, and this review allows me to bust out that breakdown one last time:
One final thing on Kennedy, and I swear I’ll drop it for a while after this: a quick timeline of his last two years.
Feb. 5, 2010: Coming off a decent 2009 with Oakland, signs a $1.25m guaranteed contract for 2010 with Washington.
2010: Hits just .249/.327/.327 for Washington, one of the worst years of his career.
Nov. 3, 2010: Nationals decline Kennedy’s $2m 2011 option.
Jan 27, 2011: Arrested in Newport Beach for suspicion of DUI.
2011: Hits .234/.277/.355 for Seattle, a wOBA 25 points lower than his underwhelming 2010.
Nov. 30, 2011: After not being able to find a guaranteed contract in 2011 and having a horrible season… receives a guaranteed deal from the Dodgers.
Nothing wrong with that scenario, right?
And we went on like that for much of the spring, trying to figure out the role of a backup infielder who couldn’t play shortstop or offer much as a hitter, hoping against hope that he’d somehow not make the Opening Day roster. He did, obviously, and when he made it through April with only one seeing-eye single to his name, the fun game of “who gets DFA’d first, Kennedy or Juan Uribe?” really kicked into high gear.
It never happened, of course, in large part thanks to injuries to Uribe, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston, & Justin Sellers, which enabled Kennedy to hang onto a job all year, save for two weeks in late July/early August on the disabled list with a groin strain. (A recurrence of the same in early September ended his season.)
Yet while he was never “good” or anything close to it, Kennedy at least managed to offer some small amount of value on a team that was being completely destroyed by injuries. A miraculous four-hit night on May 18 finally pushed his batting average back over .200, and he was one of the few Dodgers to offer anything at all over the bad months of June & July, hitting .286/.346/.400 in 82 plate appearances over that span while seeing considerable playing time at second and third.
That was basically it for Kennedy, however, because by the time he returned in early August from his first groin injury, Mark Ellis was healthy, Hanley Ramirez had arrived, Luis Cruz had emerged as an everyday player, and Kennedy’s role was further diminished by the addition of Nick Punto barely two weeks later. Kennedy received only 29 plate appearances between his return on August 12 and his groin giving out again on September 7, and that was the end of his season.
It should be noted, of course, that if that September 7 game was the last one for Kennedy in Dodger blue or perhaps of his baseball career, his final swing was a home run against Tim Lincecum that put the Dodgers up 2-1 in what was at the time a crucial series against San Francisco. Then again, Kennedy did his absolute best to give that value right back as quickly as he could:
All that being said, I can’t let Adam Kennedy‘s night go by. Here’s the thing about Kennedy: even when you happen to stumble upon the rare positive contribution from him, like the 6th inning home run that barely cleared the right field wall and put the Dodgers up 2-1, he’s still Adam Kennedy. It just usually takes a little longer for that innate Kennedy-ness to come out than it did tonight, when he allowed a two-out Hunter Pence single to bounce under his barehanded attempt in the bottom of the inning. (Though it was charitably labeled an infield hit, most good third basemen would have had a play on it.) Not only that, he ended up getting pulled the very next inning after injuring his groin on that bad play. So in the span of less than two full innings, he went from “potential hero” to “likely goat” to “oh right, he’s old & busted.”
So if we had to sum up Kennedy’s night from start to end in less than five seconds, well, this is the only way you can:
I never wanted Kennedy in Los Angeles, and it won’t bother me at all if we never see him again. Still, simply lasting the season and not being historically awful doing so is more than we expected, so, yeah, B. Happy trails, Adam.
Next up! Luis Cruz, for real this time!