The 50 Greatest Dodgers of the 2010s: #42, Howie Kendrick

first_imgSo, the following off-season, Friedman traded Kendrick to the Phillies for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. Ruf and Sweeney didn’t last a year in the organization. Kendrick didn’t last a full season in Philadelphia, either. It took one more move ― the Phillies traded Kendrick to the Nationals in July 2017 for a low-level minor league pitcher ― for Kendrick to rejuvenate his career.The story of “Howie Kendrick, Dodger,” then, is one of transitions. No player embodied the roster-building philosophy shift under Friedman more than Kendrick. Within the trajectory of his career, Kendrick’s time in blue looks like a two-year lost weekend. He’ll be remembered first as an Angel, then as an NLCS Most Valuable Player and World Series linchpin in D.C. ― as fine a second act in baseball as any.The problem with that narrative is that Washington D.C. does not represent Kendrick’s second act. It’s his fourth act, if we’re doing the arithmetic properly.So, what to make of Kendrick’s actual second act?To appreciate it, you have to put his 2015 and 2016 seasons in context. The Dodgers’ primary second baseman in 2014 was Dee Gordon, whom Friedman promptly traded to the Marlins after he replaced Ned Colletti. To say the organization was short on capable second baseman at the time would be, at best, a disservice to Darwin Barney. They needed help from outside. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro wasn’t ready to rebuild, and perhaps Friedman tried to pry away Utley at the 2014 Winter Meetings. In any event, he was lucky to land Kendrick. Editor’s note: This is the Nov. 18, 2019 edition of the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here. Four years before he broke the Dodgers’ hearts in the 10th inning of Game 5 of the 2019 National League Division Series, Howie Kendrick was on the losing end of the Dodgers’ last first-round playoff exit. Somewhat ironically, Jeurys Familia struck out Kendrick at Dodger Stadium to end the Mets’ 3-2 win in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS.That game marked the end of many things: Don Mattingly’s tenure as the Dodgers’ manager, Zack Greinke’s net worth in the mere eight figures, Chase Utley being only a man and not a rule. Less significantly, it also ended Kendrick’s days as an everyday second baseman. By April 2016, the Dodgers had made Kendrick into a utility player. By the end of that season, he’d seen time at four positions. He’d hit everywhere in the batting order from first to eighth.All of this became fairly standard stuff for most players on an Andrew Friedman-built team. But in 2015-16 it was a new normal within the Dodgers’ organization. In some ways, the transition was tougher on Kendrick than anyone. He was reportedly frustrated by the lack of a sustained role. One of the game’s longest-tenured second basemen, Kendrick wasn’t ready to make the transition into a utility player at age 33. That’s because, until Max Muncy became a Dodger and learned how to play second base, it was an unstable decade at the position for the franchise ― especially with the bat. Kiké Hernandez and Jamey Carroll offered good defense with a modicum of offense. Brian Dozier, Chone Figgins and Adam Kennedy did not. You don’t have to squint to see why second base was such a revolving door for the last 10 years. The 2000s resembled a clean baton pass from Mark Grudzialanek to Alex Cora to Jeff Kent to Orlando Hudson. The 2010s fostered a deep yearning for the days of Davey Lopes and Steve Sax.Squarely in the middle of this inglorious run came Kendrick, the rare Dodger second baseman of the last decade who could hit. His range in the field might have diminished from his heyday in Anaheim, but the Dodgers did more with him than without. They won 183 games during his two seasons in L.A., won two division titles, and were eliminated by the eventual NL champions both years. He was closer to a star than a scrub than you think, an unsung stabilizing force for the team’s weakest position of the last 10 years.-J.P.Editor’s note: Thanks for reading the Inside the Dodgers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.The 50 Greatest Dodgers of the 2010s: #43, Andrew TolesMore readingGet them to the Hall ― The BBWAA electorate received new Hall of Fame ballots, and some former Dodgers made the cut.End of an era ― A minorleague team in Ogden, Utah first affiliated with the Dodgers in 1966, managed by Tommy Lasorda. Now they’re one of 42 teams named in a sweeping contraction proposed by MLB.Mounting evidence ― A documentary of the 2017 World Series depicted a TV screen and trash can in a hallway outside the Astros’ dugout ― exactly as described by players who have accused the Astros of an illegal sign-stealing scheme.Mounting whispers ― The Astros may have used buzzing bandages to relay signs to hitters.Oh, also ― An Astros executive e-mailed the team’s scouts encouraging them to steal signs from the visitors’ dugout. center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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