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Phils, Kendrick Sign Two-Year Deal

Rub your eyes if you want, but it's still going to be there: the Phillies will pay Kyle Kendrick $7.5 million to throw baseballs for them during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

If one really, really wants to, it's possible to justify this deal. Kendrick's 2011 performance was pretty good: 8-6 record with a 3.22 ERA overall, including 5-2, 2.14 against the NL East. Kendrick switched between the rotation and bullpen without issue, pitching to a 3.14 ERA in his 15 starts and a 3.41 in his 19 relief appearances. He set a career-best with a 1.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Baseball-Reference suggests he was worth 1.2 Wins Over Replacement; if you figure 1 WAR was worth a bit less than $5 million last season, Kendrick probably delivered value in excess of twice his $2.4 million salary.

Problem is that none of this is likely to be repeated. Kendrick still can't strike people out; his 4.6 Ks per 9 innings was a bit above his previous career average, but still way below the level it generally takes to be successful. His strand rate was 76 percent, highest since his even more flukishly fortunate 2007 rookie season; his BABIP was .261, a career low. The 3.22 ERA looks great; the 4.55 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and 4.42 xFIP (Expected same) a good deal less so.

It's unlikely that this deal will be a season-killer for the Phillies. But if, like me, you'd rather see Joel Piniero get first crack at the innings Kendrick likely will snarf up in 2012 anyway, it's tough to see it as anything but wasteful. By and large, getting guys to hit line drives right at defenders is not a repeatable skill.