Phillies Hot Stove: Howie Kendrick should give outfield a boost

Howie Kendrick

Phillies trade Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney to Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Howie Kendrick, who will take over left field

The Phillies needed to improve the outfield, and they may have done just that with the addition of veteran Howie Kendrick. The Phillies received Kendrick from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade the other day, and it should pay off in left field. The Phillies are hoping Kendrick has a bit of a rebound in 2017, but his veteran presence alone is worth having around the clubhouse.

“There may not be a more professional hitter than Howie Kendrick,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said after the trade went down during the GM meetings. “He’s the definition of a professional hitter. He’s been steady his entire career. He’s one of the hardest-working guys in the league, and he can hit anywhere in the lineup and be productive… I think Howie is going to have a legitimate impact on our young group.”

Kendrick played in 146 games last season for the Dodgers, in which he hit .255 with 40 RBI and eight home runs. Kendrick is not a power hitter, as his career home run totals will show. The batting average was a 40-point drop from what was looking to be a solid 2015 season in Los Angeles before going down with an injury. Ironically, perhaps, the Dodgers added Chase Utley to the roster during the 2015 season to help plug the need for a second baseman. Kendrick had been playing second base and can play multiple positions if needed. The Phillies want and need him in left field.

“We believe Howie Kendrick is definitely a candidate to have a bounceback year,” Klentak said. “A lot of the underlying more advanced statistics would suggest he got a bit unlucky last year.”

You have to love hearing a Phillies GM reference advanced stats, don’t you? On the other hand, it looks pretty clear the Phillies are fine having Cesar Hernandez at second base. Klentak even went on record saying the Phillies are not looking to trade Hernandez, who had been mentioned in some rumor mills as a player some teams might be interested in. That doesn’t mean the Phillies won’t move Hernandez if a good deal comes along, but Klentak seems to suggest they are not actively pursuing trade partners with interest in their second baseman. First base figures to be covered by Tommy Joseph after he got in the lineup last year and split time with Ryan Howard.

So we’ll see how this one plays out. It’s hardly a bad move, and the Phillies no longer have to go into a spring training wondering if Darin Ruf will prove he has what it takes to contribute at the major league level. They waited long enough and gave Ruf enough chances and it was time to move on.

Sweeney will be returning to the team that drafted him in 2012. Sweeney was actually traded to the Phillies from the Dodger sin the Chase Utley deal in August 2015. He appeared in 37 games for the Phillies in 2015.

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