Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Howie Kendrick didn't play last night, but you can be assured that the Angels wouldn't have called up such a top prospect if they didn't intend to give him a real chance to play. With Ztu likely out for more time than his 15-day DL stint would indicate, and Ruben Juan Rivera still DL'd, he should have plenty of time.

According to what Mike Scioscia said on the pre-game radio interview last night, as well as what is said in the LA Times report linked above, Howie will be spotting AK at second, serve as a hitter off the bench, and even start taking groundballs at second. It is also conceivable that he will get some time at DH, as Tim Salmon (and his AVG/OBP/SLG line of 343/361/686!!!) is not considered able to play every day.

What happens is Howie tears it up when he gets to play? People are beginning to wonder if Adam Kennedy isn't about to be on the trading block, and I bet there are a lot of Mets fans who are hoping that he is. But I don't see it. Adam is a valuable defender, and one of the only guys in our lineup who's a good bet to put up an above-average OBP. And he's been on fire for most of this month.

And we're getting ahead of ourselves, anyway. There is no guarantee that Kendrick, despite the fact that he's hit everywhere he's ever been, is going to immediately start hitting in the majors, especially if his playing time will come in fits and starts. If he just puts up a 280/320/420 in his major league time this year, I'll be happy -- but note that that's a step below Kennedy's performance (and that's before taking defense and baserunning into account).

Howie Kendrick is a career .361 hitter in the minors, but it is true that the Angels have a lot of good hitting parks in their system, and a few teams playing in hitting leagues. Of course, that doesn't really cut into Howie's status as a prospect: a lot of guys hit in hitters' parks in hitters' leagues, and no one else is hitting .361 all the time. But he's moving to a moderate pitchers' park, and he'll be facing a lot of pitchers with breaking balls better than he's ever seen before. As high hopes as we all have for him longterm -- hopes that are completely justified -- we have to realize that adjustments to the majors aren't always smooth, even for the best players in the game.

Don't forget that the Angels sent Ervin Santana back to AAA the day after he pitched a complete game shutout against the White Sox last year. There is no reason to believe right now that Kendrick is actually capable of winning a spot yet.
I am looking forward to seeing Maui Howie's major league debut. I will be attending the next five consecutive Angel home games. I have a hunch that Mike Scioscia still start Kendrick against lefty Tig Mike Maroth tomorrow afternoon. Howie might get a pinch-hit opportunity tonight.

Adam Kennedy will stay with the Angels all season. His deserving multi-season contract demand will see him walk the plank in the off-season. Who says Kennedy does not have one more post-season Game 5 game winning hit left in him?
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