The list of first-half Phillies surprises includes a sound follow-up season by 23-year-old Kyle Kendrick, the subject of much consternation during spring training.
In March, the extended forecast called for excellent seasons by Brett Myers, Carlos Ruiz and So Taguchi. The outlook was a lot cloudier for Kendrick, who had a dismal spring and was supposed to become the 21st Century Marty Bystrom. We should have learned our lesson in 2007, when Aaron Rowand, based on his Grapefruit League totals, was about to fall off the cliff. That was $40 million years ago.
The 2008 season finds another successful installment of KK, who, despite his pedestrian 47/32 K/BB ratio, knows who he is and how to stay out of trouble. He avoids the middle of the plate at all costs, even if it means walking left-handed batters, which he frequently does. He can do more with a 90 mph fastball than most pitchers. His slider is better than his curve. Once he improves his changeup to left-handed batters, it should eliminate lingering doubt about his place in the Major Leagues. He’s been a magnet for run support, which keeps the pressure off. But even in tight spots, he doesn’t lose his cool.
Occasionally, he just doesn’t have it. It’s easy to tell by the first two innings; he’ll just miss. It’s a concern, and it's one reason why people don’t see him as a post-season pitcher just yet. The short hook in the '07 NLDS didn't help his cause, either.
Swindle, Green named to Team Canada: Phillies reliever R.J. Swindle, who pitched three games with the club and was optioned back Lehigh Valley before the All-Star break, was named to Team Canada for the 2008 Olympics. Joining Swindle on the Canadian roster are ex-Phil Rheal Cormier and IronPig teammate Steve Green.