On the off chance that you’ve tired of reading articles about salary arbitration, here’s something totally different.
In November, Philly Daily News baseball writer Paul Hagen participated in a Q&A with Umpbump on the topic of the NL MVP award. Today, Hagen compares Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick to another former Philly pitcher, Bruce Ruffin. It’s a cautionary tale about what can happen when you think too much.
It has been, as a matter of fact, 21 seasons since Ruffin checked in at the Carpenter Complex, a bright and shining hope following a 1986 season during which he went 9-4 in 21 starts after Steve Carlton was released.
And in a haunting echo across the baseball generations, it is also the eerily similar situation Kendrick finds himself in with the first official workout for pitchers and catchers in Clearwater scheduled for 4 weeks from yesterday.
He, too, was summoned from Reading when a pitching crisis struck the Phils last June. He went 10-4 in 20 starts and amazed everyone, well, you know the rest of it.
Ruffin says he got rocked in his second season because he tried to make too many adjustments. He made the adjustments, he says, because the media convinced him he needed to.
Ruffin: “Everybody kept saying I had to throw my fastball inside more to righthanders, to keep them honest so they wouldn’t hit my sinker away. And before the season even got going, I bought into it.
“But I lived with my two-seamer [sinking fastball] away and then ran the slider in. Now I was throwing fastballs that tailed out over the plate and Jack Clark [of the Cardinals] would hit it into the upper deck. I was making adjustments before the league showed that adjustments had to be made. All of a sudden I was trying to throw fastballs inside and guys were hitting the ball into the gaps or for home runs.”
Ruffin says he thinks Kendrick will be better equipped to handle the rigors of his sophomore season, because he’s got veteran Jamie Moyer to help him.Not everyone thinks that will be enough. We told you recently that Kendrick is getting no love from baseball pundits, most of whom think the Phillies youngster is primed for a sophmore slump.
And while it’s certainly not a good sign when local writers are comparing you to Bruce Ruffin, whose lifetime record was 60-82, I’m guessing Kyle is just excited that Hagen isn’t comparing him to Pat Combs, who won ten games for the Phillies as a rookie in 1990 — and then won three more games the rest of his career.