Nats Stock Up Before the Snow

Along with blizzard conditions outside, folks in the Washington, DC area also are being greeted by a new addition to the family – a second baseman. They signed Adam Kennedy which means everyone is going to make “Kennedy goes to Washington” jokes all year. So get ready for that. Maybe they could also sign Dave Bush, Lew Ford and Craig Monroe and then we can have a second Mount Rushmore here.

According to Buster Olney, they signed him for 1 year and $1.25 M, with a club option for 2011. Even if you don’t love the signing, this is a perfectly reasonable amount, and if he plays like he did last year, it’ll be a bargain. Speaking of last year, it was actually his second best season ever, in terms of OPS. He hit .289/.348/.410 while playing in one of the biggest pitcher’s parks in the league, the Oakland… er, McAfee Coliseum. At 34 years old, it is probably a safe bet to assume this wasn’t a new level he had reached, but more of an outlying peak performance on an otherwise solid career.

As for the normal hitting ability of Kennedy,

well it’s not quite where he was at in 2009, but it aint bad. He’s a career .277/.330/.391 hitter, which for a middle infielder is fine. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s ok. The good thing about Kennedy is that he does tend to get on base. He doesn’t walk a ton, but he has hit for a decently high average all his career. The good news is, he’s only had 2 seasons since 2002 with an OBP below .334. The bad news is they were 2007 and 2008. But he recovered last year to tie his highest walk total in any season. You’d probably be safe to bet the under on double digit home runs with him, but his bat isn’t a waste.

As for his fielding, it was quite good most of his career. Primarily a 2B, he has a career UZR/150 there of 8.2. 4 of his 8 seasons since 2002, it’s registered about +13 at that position. But last year was bad, his number came in at -14.8. These kind of inconsistencies shows why a full season isn’t even enough of a sample size for it, but his career number indicates he can field the position. As for his range, he seems to be about league average. He was slightly below last year, slightly above the 2 years before, and slightly below before that. He’s also played a few games in the outfield without looking lost, and can fill in at third base. So he makes a pretty good utility type as well.

His streakiness year to year with both the bat and the glove makes it difficult to predict exactly how he’ll do. What’s easier to predict is that this signing probably relegates Ian Desmond to a backup role. And Guzman will probably still be a SS. At least at the beginning. It is unfortunate to think that Desmond might not get a chance to show what he can do. But this year as a backup would be a complete waste for him. Hopefully, if they do plan on starting Guzman and Kennedy full time, then Desmond will play in AAA. He needs to opportunity to play every day, and if he’s not doing it in the majors, he should be doing it in the minors. Then they’ll get a chance to see if he should be the starter over one of the other guys, and he’ll get the opportunity to repeat his 2009 hitting.

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