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]

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.