How Should the Phillies Manage Kyle Kendrick's Persecution Complex?

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How Should the Phillies Manage Kyle Kendrick's Persecution Complex?
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick needs an attitude adjustment after a string of poor performances.

Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick seems to think he hasn’t been given a fair shake as a starter.

Kendrick, after getting shelled for six earned runs in 3.1 innings against the Atlanta Braves earlier this week, was asked by Phillies' beat reporters about the prospect of being demoted to the bullpen after his latest disappointing start.

"I guess that's how it is with me,'" Kendrick said after the Phillies were pounded 12-6 by the Braves, as reported by David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. "It's, 'What have you done for me lately?'"

Kendrick was obviously frustrated, but this is a stunningly irrational comment for a pitcher who is now 2-8 with a 5.01 ERA in 15 starts, and has given up 12 homers and a .293 batting average against in those games.

What’s alarming is that this wasn’t the first time Kendrick gave an inflated self-assessment of a dismal performance. "I felt like I pitched a lot better than my numbers show," Kendrick said after giving up five earned runs in 6.1 innings in a 6-2 loss to Toronto in June, as reported by The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb.

Sorry Kyle, but you are delusional. Your maddening tendency to nibble, and your fear of throwing strikes makes watching your starts as enjoyable as getting a root canal. You needed 50 pitches to get through the second inning against the Braves and gave up a two-run double to Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, and you’re grumbling about being under-appreciated?

Even Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is getting tired of Kendrick’s act. “Yeah, he’s had that kind of game before,” Manuel said after the game, as reported by John Finger of CSNPhilly.com.

Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images
Body language has been an issue for Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick since he broke into the league in 2007.

With Kendrick slated to make $4 million in 2013, the odds of the Phillies cutting him loose are remote. The good news is that Kendrick’s numbers out of the bullpen are far better, so perhaps the Phillies will be able to extract some value from him next year.

Still, Kendrick’s comments sound ungrateful and raise the ugly specter of a bad attitude. And that’s exactly what the Phillies don’t need as they play out the string this season and hopefully set themselves up for a better performance in 2013.

Kendrick’s future looked much brighter back in 2008 when Phillies team members pulled one of the most memorable pranks in team history on the then-promising young pitcher, duping him into believing he’d been traded to the Japanese league.

The Phillies have shown great patience with Kendrick over the years, in spite of his inconsistent performance. But the boos with which Philadelphia fans serenaded Kendrick as he walked off the mound in his last start are only going to get louder if he is permitted to stay in the rotation. They will get even more intense if he continues with the snarky comments.

Will Kendrick be able to handle the heat? That remains to be seen, but if his thin-skinned demeanor continues, the Phillies might end up trading him to Japan for real this time.

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