There’s been a lot of talk about the Cardinals off-season needs, wants, surpluses, etc. But many of the discussions seem to center around the pitching staff, the outfield, etc. Not a whole lot has been said about the Cardinal second baseman, Adam Kennedy.
When Kennedy was signed last offseason, it was roundly considered a pretty good move. It was a three-year, $10 million contract, which is basically a bargain in a market where it seems everyone, including the batboys, is making $8-$9 million a year. Kennedy was considered a solid bat and a plus defender, even if he was starting to hit the end of his prime.
However, the first year of that contract was pretty much an unmitigated disaster. Kennedy hit .219, which was about 50 points lower than his previous career low for a full season, hit only three home runs (two were hit in back to back days) and made seven errors (though his .981 fielding percentage was in line with his past performance). Finally, he had to have surgery on his knee in August, which ended his season.
There’s been a bit of groundswell for cutting losses and shipping him off for whatever he’ll bring back. That sentiment, the “what have you done for me lately” mentality, is better suited for Yankee fans. Besides the fact that Kennedy is no drain on the payroll (he’ll make $3.5 million this year per Cot’s Contracts), it’s fairly obvious that Kennedy is primed for a bounce-back season.
He’s not going to get back to double-digit home runs, as he did in 2003 and 2004, but 6-7 would be reasonable. More helpful would be if he could get back to his career average OBP of .329, which would be a 45 point jump from last year. The .340 range for OBP would not be out of the question either.
There has been a need for speed on the Cardinal staff. Kennedy regularly steals 15-20 bases, which would have put him first on the 2007 squad. The 6 he actually stole, on a bad leg and not regularly on base, was fourth on the team as it was.
While we can’t expect miracles from him, there are a lot of indications that Kennedy can rebound and be very productive for the Cardinals next year. Coupled with improvements from Rolen and Pujols, that should help the Cardinals score many more runs than they did in ’07.