Posted by: Larry Smith Jr. | February 9, 2010

Another Kennedy In Washington

On Friday the Washington Nationals signed Infielder Adam Kennedy to a one year deal with a club option for a second year.  Kennedy is most known for being the starting second baseman for the Los Angeles (then Anaheim) Angels for the first half of the last decade, including the 2002 championship squad.    He is now in a journeyman stage of his career, with the Nationals being his fourth franchise in the last three seasons (along with St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Oakland).

The word out of Washington seems to be that Kennedy will open the year slated to be the starter at second base, though that is always subject to change.  They also have Christian Guzman under contract (probable starter at Shortstop) and Shortstop prospect Ian Desmond who could push either player out of the lineup very soon.

Taken on its own, this move isn’t a bad one for Washington.  It gives them a veteran player who is likely to be serviceable and does not cost that much in terms of dollar value to the team.    However, Nationals fans can only hope that Mike Rizzo is on the same page as manager Jim Riggleman when it comes to playing time.   These are the types of moves that generally keep younger, better players on the bench due to managers preferring to play the “savvy vet”, which generally is a code word for “player that was good once upon a time that has clearly declined but is getting playing time based on name value”.   While the Nationals are unlikely to compete for a National League East title this season, it still would set a bad precedent if Kennedy stayed in the lineup for an undue period of time keeping Desmond either on the bench or in Syracuse.

Kennedy is no longer the player that he was in his Angels heyday.  Last season he split time virtually equally between third base and second base, not playing either position very well any longer after spending much of his career as a top flight second baseman defensively.   The 34 year old Kennedy is coming off of the second-best offensive season of his career — And best since that 2002 season — However, it doesn’t seem likely that such success will persist.  He hadn’t been nearly so effective at the plate in the preceding three seasons and is now in his mid-30s.

Overall, if Kennedy is used properly this could be a solid depth move for the Nationals, but I fear that he’ll become a beneficiary of the “veteran treatment”, and if that ends up being the case it could end up hurting the Nats more than helping.    Should Kennedy be able to replicate his 2009 performance, there is a $2m team option for next season.

Kennedy’s performance has been as follows (defensive numbers are for second base only):

Year    PA    BA    OBP    SLG    HR    wRC+    UZR/150    Rtot/yr.
2009    587    .289    .348    .410    11    108    -14.8    -24.2
2008    365    .280    .321    .372    2    87    21.8    15.5
2007    306    .219    .282    .290    3    52    -5.7    -11.2
Car.    5056    .277    .330    .391    68    93    8.2    6.4

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