Adam Kennedy provides stability at second base

Adam Kennedy 1.jpgThe Nationals came up short in the Orlando Hudson sweepstakes but the second place prize could be more productive–time will tell. The Nats signed second baseman Adam Kennedy once the snow settled on Friday. The signing also settled speculation that Cristian Guzman would play second and Ian Desmond would play shortstop. Kennedy will be the everyday second baseman and Guzman will stay at short. Desmond will likely start the season with Triple-A Syracuse so he can improve his defense.

The left-handed hitting Kennedy, 34, is a pro’s pro that will be great in the clubhouse, provide a positive attitude and will be a quality mentor for the young players.

After disappointing 2007 and ’08 seasons, Oakland gave Kennedy a chance to player everyday and he flourished. He batted .289 with 29 doubles, 11 home runs, 63 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 129 games with Oakland despite playing home games at pitcher-friendly Oakland-Alameda County Stadium. (There might be more foul territory than fair territory there and that isn’t a hyperbole.)

Kennedy is familiar with Manager Jim Riggleman and Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein from their time together with the Cardinals organization in 2007.

“I really like Adam a lot as a player,” Riggleman said. “He isn’t spectacular in any particular area of the game. He is just a solid pro to add to a nice list of pros that we have with Adam Dunn, Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham and Nyjer Morgan.”

Kennedy is known as a strong defender and his 4.92 total chances per 9.0 innings ranked second among all AL second basemen (minimum 750 games) in the just-completed decade (2000-09).

Kennedy is perhaps best known as the MVP of the 2002 ALCS, during which he homered three times in Game Five to register just the sixth three-homer game in postseason history. Kennedy has twice reached the postseason, and is a .308 career hitter in 25 playoff games. He earned a World Series ring with Anaheim in 2002.

The signing of Kennedy all but solidifies the 2010 lineup with very few position battles taking place this spring. Right field is for Elijah Dukes to lose and Ivan Rodriguez will likely begin the season behind the dish as Jesus Flores recovers from right shoulder surgery. Of course, a lot can change between now and then… but not accounting for unforeseen injuries and assuming Guzman starts at shortstop, here is the projected Opening Day lineup two days before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training:

2010 Opening Day Lineup Projection :

  1. Nyjer Morgan – L
  2. Cristian Guzman – S
  3. Ryan Zimmerman – R
  4. Adam Dunn – L
  5. Josh Willingham – R
  6. Elijah Dukes – R
  7. Adam Kennedy – L
  8. Pudge Rodriguez – R
  9. Jason Marquis

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