Why Give Up On Kinney?

Rany Jazayerli has a good point about the Royals’ acquisition of Matt Kinney:

I don�t know why on earth the Brewers would waive Matt Kinney.
Start with the reasons why they did. He�s now on his fourth organization; the Red Sox traded him to Minnesota for Greg Swindell back in 1998, and the Twins dealt him to Milwaukee two years ago when they ran out of room on their 40-man roster. He�s got a 5.18 career ERA, which isn�t good. Like far too many Royals� pitchers, he�s a little too prone to flyballs (0.83 G/F ratio, 55 HR in 361 career IP).
Now here are all the reasons why they shouldn�t have. He�s not that old (27). He�s cheap ($400,000), although I think he�ll be arbitration-eligible this winter. He can miss bats, and he�s getting better at it. His K/9 ratio is 6.80 for his career, and consider this progression: 5.10, 6.14, 7.18, 7.51. Last season, he struck out 152 batters in 190 innings. Do you know how long it�s been since a Royals pitcher struck out 152 batters? Try 1997, by a pre-injury Kevin Appier.
And most importantly, he appears to have taken a big leap forward this season. His strikeout rate is the best of his career�and so is his walk rate (3.32 per 9). His ERA this season is 5.78, but most of that damage was done in the season�s first six weeks. His ERA on May 15th was 8.61; since then, this is his line:
31.2 IP, 35 H, 4 HR, 7 BB, 30 K, 3.13 ERA.
Plus, it�s worth noting that he�s been awfully hit-unlucky this year, surrendering 8 hits more than expected, which is a pretty margin in just 62 innings.
And we�re not talking about a soft-tosser; Kinney throws in the mid-90s, and was considered a top prospect in the minor leagues.
So why did the Brewers flat-out release him? Damned if I know. He was definitely getting torched by lefties (.379/.443/.543). While his platoon splits have never been as dramatic as they were this year, that may always be a problem for him. And the turnaround to his season corresponds to the time he was demoted to the bullpen. He had a 9.72 ERA as a starter this season, and even though he�s been pitching well in relief, I suppose the Brewers may be disappointed by what Kinney hasn�t become, as opposed to what he has.
What he has become is a pretty damn good reliever, with the stuff and sudden breakout in his K/BB ratio to suggest continued upside. The Royals plan to use him in middle relief, and maybe that�s all he�ll ever be good for. But it�s sure as hell worth giving him the roster spot to find out.
Point, Allard Baird.

2 thoughts on “Why Give Up On Kinney?”

  1. A few months of quality relief work makes me feel any better about Kinney’s prospects. Even less so now that he’s getting blown-up with the Royals in the same role.

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