Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Breaking down the Ian Kennedy trade
By Keith Law
Details of the trade
San Diego Padres get: RHP Ian Kennedy
Arizona Diamondbacks get: LHP Joe Thatcher, RHP Matt Stites, competitive balance draft pick
Ian Kennedy's 2011 season -- in which he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting -- was a mirage, in large part the result of being a severe fly-ball pitcher in front of one of the game's best defensive outfields that year. Guys who are that prone to putting the ball in the air will eventually give up more home runs, and Kennedy has, 46 bombs in his 332 innings over the past year and a half.
He works with fringy velocity and little life on his fastball, relying instead on some deception in his delivery and an above-average changeup. After two years of throwing strikes and keeping his walks down, he has been well below league average this year in both departments, and he's not the kind of pitcher who can survive with a walk rate worse than league average.
In San Diego, however, the fly-ball high-wire act might work better than it did in Arizona, as he's moving from a good home run park to one of the majors' worst, and given how little the Padres had to give up to acquire him and whom he'll likely replace in their rotation, the move made a lot of sense.
The return for Arizona is slight, although it reflects the performance of Kennedy this year and the team's desire to just be rid of him. Joe Thatcher is a pure lefty specialist, holding left-handed batters to a .192/.248/.254 line since the start of 2010, but shouldn't be allowed to face any right-handers and has limited value except as a one-batter guy, taking up a roster spot that might be better spent on another bench bat.
Matt Stites has a low to mid-90s fastball with outstanding control, but doesn't have a plus secondary pitch and did miss three weeks with shoulder trouble in 2012; he projects as a middle reliever.