Thursday, December 11, 2014

Welcome to the Blue, Howie Kendrick!

Just when I was marveling at the Dodger acquisition of Baseball's 2nd best left-handed starting pitching prospect, Andrew Heaney, the Dodgers go ahead and flip him to the Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.  And, I couldn't be happier about it.

Howie Kendrick has been an absolute wizard, so having him wear a real Los Angeles uniform just warms my heart.  Per a Dodger press release:
Kendrick, 31, batted .293 in 157 games with the Angels last year and established career-best marks in hits (181), RBI (75, also: 2010), walks (48) and on-base percentage (.347, also: 2007). He ranked ninth in the American League (min. 100 AB) with a .326 batting average with runners in scoring position (56-for-172) and also posted a .385 mark with the bases loaded (5-for-13).

Kendrick has a .292 career batting average with 249 doubles, 78 home runs and 501 RBI in 1,081 games in nine MLB seasons, all with the Angels. The 2011 All-Star has a .986 career fielding percentage, appearing primarily at second base, and has hit well in the clutch during the course of his career, posting a .292 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .295 mark with runners on base. The Florida native was originally selected by the Angels in the 10th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Paired up with soon-to-be shortstop Jimmy Rollins should be a wonder to behold.  This will be one of the better infields the Dodger have had in quite some time.

As for Kendrick's contract, he has just one year remaining at $9.5Mil - a bargain if he comes anywhere close to his numbers from last season.  I might usually bark at the idea of trading a top-flight prospect like Heaney for a one-year rental in Kendrick, but as I'm slowly coming around to understand this deal (like the others) is about roster flexibility.  We get a great bat and solid defensive middle infielder for one season; which allows us to stretch our wings out a bit when next winter rolls around.  Besides, if we are unable to extend him beyond 2015 you can be certain that the Dodger make a Qualifying Offer.  And as you know, that extra draft pick has significant value.

Now, here's an interesting story about how he was scouted, via an excerpt from Sports Illustrated on Wikipedia:
"The Angels found him, if only by chance. On a whim Kotchman went to see Kendrick play in Tampa in early 2002 after hearing about him from Ernie Rossean, the coach at Brevard Community College outside Orlando. After watching a few minutes of BP, Kotchman ran to his car to get his video camera. "My goodness, the kid hit the ball," he recalls. "I couldn't believe there weren't other scouts there. And other JCs cut this guy? What were they thinking?" For the remainder of the season, Kotchman wouldn't even approach Kendrick at games, lest his secret get out. In '02 Anaheim took Kendrick in the 10th round of the draft. As for why he went undiscovered for so long, both Kendrick and Kotchman are somewhat flummoxed, though each ends up blaming geography. "His school was way out in the sticks, and he didn't play summer ball," says Kotchman, whose son, Casey, played alongside Kendrick on the Angels. "Hey, I'm just glad we were the ones that found him."
In celebration of Kendrick's arrival to the Dodgers I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph grabbed from a photo from Zimbio (Rob Tringali/Getty Images North America) and the 1962 Topps Baseball card design.

Below are the career stats for Howie Kendrick, via Baseball-Reference:

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