Pleading the fifth: Moyer of Kendrick?by Eric Schwartz
Having won three straight NL East titles and appearing in the World Series the last two years, few questions surround the Phillies as they embark on the 2010 season next month.
And the questions that do exist — bounce back seasons from Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels — don’t pertain to the first week of the season so much as they do the season as a whole.
The team’s starting eight are assured. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley don’t exactly have their jobs on the line.
But there is one bit of competition that has the interest of the team’s followers.
The old soft throwing lefty vs. The promising, yet inconsistent young buck.
Jamie Moyer vs. Kyle Kendrick.
On one end you have a 47-year old who’s fastball is looks like a changup, but has always found a way to get the job done. Since being acquired by the Phillies in a deal with Seattle, Moyer has been a great presence in the locker room. His work on the mound has been equally as impressive. He is 47-31 in three seasons and has given his team a chance to win the vast majority of the time. With the Phillies offense, they usually have.
He tied for the team lead with 12 wins last year, though his ERA bloomed to 4.94.
On the other hand you have Kendrick who pitched well in 2007 — surprising the organization with a 10-4 record and a 3.87 ERA — but struggled in 2008, finishing with a 5.49 ERA. Kendrick doesn’t overpower hitters and doesn’t have amazing stuff, but he is a Major League pitcher and does appear ready.
This Spring, Kendrick has put forth a strong audition, posting a 1.29 ERA. In 14 innings he has allowed just seven hits and two runs, while striking out 6. Moyer made his first official start of the Spring on Sunday and he to had success, allowing one run on five hits in five innings against the Blue Jays. Moyer previously made three starts in “B” games, and currently has a 3.86 ERA.
This will not be an easy decision by any means.
Although he pitched in relief at the end of last season Moyer does not want to be a reliever. Kendrick could be used in relief but may be better served getting starting experience in the minors if he isn’t chosen as the fifth starter. The team already has Jose Contreras in the bullpen so the need for a long-man is not there.
The Phillies could also try to trade Moyer, but as Philly.com writer Paul Hagen points out, the team would be best served to keep both as there is a lack of starting depth in the minors and injuries are inevitable during a season.
I think that Kendrick’s time has arrived and he should get the nod. I also think he won’t.
If we have learned anything about Charlie Manuel in his time in Philadelphia it’s that he is loyal to his guys. Sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes to a fault.
The Phillies can survive with Moyer in the No. 5 spot and they know it. Kendrick will get his chance, just not during the early part of the season.
And if your rooting for one guy or the other and it doesn’t work out in your favor don’t let it bother you. When a team’s only dilemma is at the No. 5 spot in the rotation, your team is in really good shape.