Ron Costello

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hungry Dogs Run Faster

As we speak there are currently 28 free agent pitchers on the open market.

But some are more like indentured servants than free agents. You may recall indentured servants were first brought to Jamestown by the Virginia Company. They filled a need for cheap labor. People got to come to America and work and usually after 4-7 years, they were set free.

Some of the free agent pitchers available right now are more indentured servants than free agents. Take Kyle Kendrick, for example.

Mr. Kendrick once wore the red pinstripes. He was 74 - 68 over eight seasons with the Phillies. It seemed like he'd pitch a good game, then some bad ones. You'd never know if the good Kyle Kendrick was taking the mound or the get hammered Kyle Kendrick. In all fairness, he was jerked around from starter to long relief, he sometimes didn't know if he was coming or going.

Last season Mr. Kendrick signed a one year deal with Boston for $1 million. But he only pitched in two games and spent the rest of the season at Triple A. His ERA with the Red Sox was 12 something.

So, will Mr. Kendrick, 32, get another shot in 2018 or will he barbecue all summer.

Also in the free agent pool is ex-Phillie Jeremy Hellickson, 30, traded last season to Baltimore at the July deadline for the world famous Hyun Soo Kim and a low-level pitching prospect. Now Mr. Kim is a free agent outfielder and the pitching prospect, Garrett Cleavinger is likely to start the season at Reading.

Like Mr. Kendrick, Mr. Hellickson was up and down with the Phillies, too. Clubs like him because they say he's an inning eater. He'd be perfect for a low-level club like Miami: he'd eat innings while their fans eat hot dogs.

Then there's ex-Phillie, Clay Buchholz. Oh, wow, talk about an indentured servant — a rather rich indentured servant. The Phillies traded infield prospect Josh Tobias to Boston for Buchholz for their 2017 rotation. They gladly picked up the final year of his contract, $13.5 million. He pitched two games for the Phillies before straining his elbow which ended his season. That figures out to be a little over $6.75 million a game.

Free agency is fun, is it not?

Here's one from the free agent list that isn't an ex-Phillie, R.A. Dickey. Mr. Dickey is a real inning eater, too, because he throws a knuckleball. You may recall Mr. Dickey — he pitched for the Mets for three seasons. He's one the Marlins should definitely grab because the entire fan base can go to sleep while the catcher chases the ball around behind home plate. When they wake up it will be the top of the ninth.

In this morning's Inquirer — by the way, if you haven't checked it out the Inquirer is running three Phillies' stories a day out of Clearwater — team president Mr. Andy MacPhail said he might be inclined to stay away from the free agent market for starting pitchers. That could be the smartest thing MacPhail's said in months. Why dish out big bucks over 2-3 years for a possible indentured servant?

The Phillies rotation looks solid in four of the five slots, all young: Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Nick Pivetta. Instead of throwing money at the fifth spot, how about Ben Lively, 25, or Jake Thompson, 24 (acquired in the Cole Hamels trade)? Both pitchers are at the major leaguer minimum, $500K. Two kids who may be hungrier in the belly than a Jake Arrieta or an Alex Cobb.

Wasn't long ago when philosopher Jason Kelce, addressing the Faithful, said, "Hungry dogs run faster."

Mr. McPhail, save your money and give the ball to a hungry dog.

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