I spent some time talking to new San Diego Padre Ian Kennedy Wednesday. He told me he was both “bummed” and “excited” about the news that he was traded. He was also thankful that Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers came to his hotel room in Tampa to tell him the news and not over the phone.
As a California product, he is happy about going back to his home state and in a pitcher-friendly ballpark with a team that has a great defense.
He’s also happy the distractions are now over.
“It was tough to pitch yesterday with all the rumors circulating about me being traded” said Kennedy. “I spoke with [Padres GM Josh Byrnes] today and he said I had just become the first player he had traded for twice.”
Byrnes, of course, pulled off the three-team trade with the Tigers and Yankees that landed Kennedy in the desert. I asked Kennedy about what went wrong this year after two seasons of a combined 36 wins.
“If I knew the answer to that I would have certainly fixed it,” said Kennedy. “I think that I wasn’t as sharp with runners on base and when I had two strikes on hitters. I didn’t make enough clutch pitches.”
Kennedy pointed to Tuesday night’s game in which he gave up a leadoff double to Ben Zobrist in the fifth and then struck out Evan Longoria, James Loney and Luke Scott to end the inning as signs that he can turn it around after posting a 3-8 record with a 5.23 ERA this season.
He believes that he was pitching well in the Dodgers brawl game and the Padres game his next start before the 10-game suspension. In those two games, he threw 12.1 innings and gave up a total of just three runs. He struggled coming back from the suspension in the Atlanta game, pitched well against the Mets with seven strong innings and then had the distraction of having to pitch against the Dodgers again.
That he was traded was no surprise. Arizona was not talking contract extension with him, he has two years of arbitration eligibility left and the D-backs have a surplus of starting pitchers. Arizona got back a dominant left-handed reliever in Joe Thatcher, who is extremely tough on lefties, and a terrific bullpen prospect in Matt Stites, who may very well become their closer by next season. They also got a supplemental draft pick next year in between the second and third rounds. So Arizona addresses some bullpen concerns for now and for the future, adds a draft pick and creates an opening on their roster for Archie Bradley next season. And Kennedy gets a new start with some familiar faces in the organization in Byrnes and A.J. Hinch.