He pitched so well in fact that it earned him a spot in the 2008 rotation coming out of spring training. Kennedy struggled in the big leagues that year though and was sent back down to the minors. The Yankees still had high hopes for him though and called him back up in August, but after just two bad innings and a few of the wrong things said to the press after the game it seemed like the Yankees had all but given up on him.
I felt like I made some good pitches,” he said. “I’m not too upset about it. What was it, a bunch of singles and three doubles? I’m just not real upset about it. I’m just going to move on and I’ve already done that.”
Tyler Kepner of the NY Times recently spoke with Kennedy about that night:
Kennedy talked about that night on Sunday, after his two-inning start for the Arizona Diamondbacks at Tucson Electric Park. Without being asked, Kennedy brought up the game in talking about that lost season, when he could not hold his spot in the Yankees’ rotation.
Early in the season, Kennedy explained, he had tried to do too much, and dwelled too long on bad outings, letting one bleed into the next. Before the Angels game, he had pitched very well in Class AAA. He wanted to forget the bad outing as soon as possible, and as he stewed in the clubhouse for hours, he vowed to do that.
“I sat there for a long time thinking, ‘I’m not going to let this bring me down,’ ” Kennedy said. “I was so upset. I don’t like coming out in the second inning.”
But his words that night sounded terrible. At best, Kennedy was refusing to be accountable for a bad performance. At worst, he was projecting an attitude that he did not care that he had lost. Teammates, especially Mike Mussina, picked up on it.
“How do you think you threw?” Mussina asked Kennedy, after hearing the interview. Kennedy replied that he had thrown horribly, and that satisfied Mussina, who told him he wanted to make sure Kennedy’s version of reality matched everybody else’s.
“He was looking out for me,” said Kennedy, who counts Mussina as a mentor.
Maybe I’m wrong and the Yankees didn’t give up on him that day, but it sure feels like it now. Otherwise I’m left wondering if they would have included him, as he was still considered, at least by those outside of the organization, as a top prospect, in a deal with another top prospect, Austin Jackson, and a major league lefty reliever in the same trade.
They would have never included Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in a deal with some of their other top talents. Kennedy slipped behind those two as far as production had gone, but it wasn’t long ago that he was at or above their level in terms of potential. They didn’t give him a chance coming out of spring training and then he had the aneurysm early last season which might be the only reason Hughes is ahead of him in terms of development.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a good move to bring Curtis Granderson to the Bronx, but I can’t help but thinking that if Ian Kennedy pitches well out in Arizona the Yankees are going to regret including so much talent in one deal.