In Appreciation of Kyle Kendrick

In Appreciation of Kyle Kendrick

One month after avoiding arbitration, the Phillies extended Kyle Kendrick through 2013 on Sunday, agreeing to pay the versatile right hander $7.5 million over two years. Though Kendrick is eligible for arbitration again in 2014, the agreement marks the first time the club has demonstrated a commitment to the 27 year old as he enters his sixth Major League season.

The front office is rewarding Kendrick's career year, one in which he remained effective despite bouncing between the starting rotation and bullpen as needed. They are telling Kendrick he has carved out his place on this roster, that he will be in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.

Yet many fans still fail to recognize Kendrick's value. Maybe it's because we've become spoiled by Cy Young award winners and World Series MVP's, or some of us aren't able to erase the memory of his awful '08 campaign. Whatever it is you don't care for about Kendrick, make no mistake, he has developed into a more than serviceable pitcher for the Phillies.

He belongs on the staff.

What exactly is there not to like about Kyle Kendrick? When Roy Halladay arrived in the clubhouse, Kendrick began to mimic the superstar's workouts. Dedication. He does whatever is asked of him -- spent most of '09 in the minors, moved in and out of the bullpen, even took a joke about being traded to Japan in stride. Team player. Most importantly, he's played very well of late, going 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 2011.

Improvement.

Practically all of Kendrick's numbers were career bests -- ERA, 1.221 WHIP, 8.6 hits per nine, 1.1 home runs per nine, 4.6 strikeouts per nine. He was even better in games he started, posting a 5-4 record with a 3.16 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 5.0 K's per nine, and a 2.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Obviously those aren't All-Star numbers, but almost any team in the league would have taken Kendrick as either their fourth or fifth starter last season. On the Phillies, he was the seventh option, behind Joe Blanton and Vance Worley. However, for whatever reason, every time Kendrick took the mound, you could almost hear the collective groan of the fan base.

Who else has seven Major League starting pitchers?

Such contempt for a mere role player makes no sense. It's not as if Kendrick were some vastly-overpaid underachiever. He's just a guy making the most of his rather ordinary talents, working hard to get better while helping the ball club win any way he can. That's somebody I want on my team, especially when the results back it up.

>> Phillies sign Kendrick to two-year deal [Phillies Zone]

NBA Power Rankings: The Sixers remain in the bottom third of the NBA

NBA Power Rankings: The Sixers remain in the bottom third of the NBA

The most recent NBA power rankings have the Sixers dropping further or remaining in the lower third of the NBA. 

Recent news of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons’ injury situations have the experts assuming the season is a lost cause and the team is focused on this June’s draft.

A trade of Nerlens Noel confirms the Sixers are banking on building around Embiid and wanted to get a return on Noel instead of letting him walk at the end of the season.

Last week
The Sixers split their only two games of the week: A 120-112 win against the Wizards Friday night and a buzzer-beater 110-109 loss to the Knicks Saturday night.

Against the Wizards, Robert Covington recorded a double-double with 25 points and 11 rebounds – both team leaders. The Sixers had seven players in double-digit points including Dario Saric and Gerald Henderson both pouring in 20. The Sixers did not give up the lead after the beginning of the second quarter. 

Carmelo Anthony drained a game-winning shot on Saturday for the Knicks. Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 28 points while Saric added 19 and Covington tallied 20. 

This week
• Tonight, the Sixers face the Warriors in Philadelphia (7 p.m./CSN)

• Wednesday against the Heat in Miami (7:30 p.m./CSN)

• Friday they face the Knicks at home (7 p.m./CSN)

• Saturday they stay at the Wells Fargo Center for the Pistons (6 p.m./CSN)

What the experts say
John Schuhmann of NBA.com was gracious only dropping the Sixers from 21 to 22 this past week. Maybe he trusts the process. 

He makes a good point about Okafor's situation after the Noel trade:

“The Sixers have been at their worst offensively with Okafor on the floor, but he scored 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting on Saturday, getting two huge, final-minute buckets in the post before Carmelo Anthony hit the game-winner. He may not be the better fit, but he has two more years on his rookie deal.”

Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report dropped the Sixers to 24 on his list, three spots lower than last week. 

He took a look into Embiid’s efficiently in the post and found some interesting numbers from Chris Herring of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight:

“The 7-footer has really been in a giving mood near the basket, where he's coughed the ball up on nearly 22 percent of his post-up looks, the highest turnover rate among NBA players with at least 100 plays, according to Synergy. And his turnover rate jumps up to a whopping 32 percent when teams aggressively send a second defender to double Embiid in the post."

Hughes ended his piece by saying the Sixers look to be on a downturn for the rest of the season. 

Jeremy Wood of Sports Illustrated moved the Sixers one spot from last week which leaves them at 26 on his list. 

He questions “trusting the process” stating that there are many questions surrounding Bryan Colangelo and the front office after the Noel trade. 

“It’s a longer-term question, but there will be short-term clues.”

Couldn’t have said it any better. 

Finally, Matt Moore of CBS Sports drops the Sixers from 22 to 26 this week. Moore is starting to see a repetitive story with the Sixers and it’s struggles. 

“Usually if a team loses both its top picks in a rebuilding year, you feel awful for them and their fans. With the Sixers, you're left just feeling like this is the status quo, forever.”

Villanova keeps No. 2 ranking despite another loss to Butler

Villanova keeps No. 2 ranking despite another loss to Butler

Villanova remained the No. 2 team in the nation in Monday's AP poll after a 1-1 week.

'Nova split its two games against a pair of ranked teams, losing by eight points at home to No. 22 Butler on Wednesday before rebounding for a 16-point win over No. 23 Creighton Saturday.

The Wildcats are 27-3 and 14-3 in the Big East, losing to Butler two times by eight points apiece and to Marquette by two.

Butler moved up from 22 to 13.

Villanova kept its No. 2 ranking because of a loss by previous No. 1 Gonzaga. The Zags moved down to fourth, while Kansas jumped up from No. 3 to No. 1.

Kansas received 58 first-place votes. Villanova and Gonzaga received two apiece, with the remaining three going to No. 3 UCLA.

Villanova has just one regular season game remaining Saturday at Georgetown.