Wednesday, May 24, 2006

May 24th, 1979

Joe Kennedy Born

Not this Joe Kennedy of course--John Sterling's fondness for referring to our Joe Kennedy as "The Patriarch" notwithstanding--pitching Joe Kennedy has had a rather underwhelming career. He spent the first three years in Tampa Bay, never winning more than eight games or posting an ERA below 4.44, although he was probably the best pitcher on the team in 2002. His 2003 was an unmitigated disaster however, as Kennedy went 3-12 with a ghastly 6.13 ERA. Evidently itchy to be rid of their one-time "ace" the D-Rays traded him to Colorado as part of a complicated three-way deal with the Blue Jays and Rockies. (That trade might deserve a blog of its own someday, a three-way trade with absolutely no one of note involved, that can't happen much these days.)

Typically, being sent to Colorado indicates doom for pitchers. For Joe Kennedy however, at least for 2004, it was heaven. Kennedy won just nine games (against seven losses) but that belies how good he really was. He posted a 3.66 ERA, which would be respectable anywhere, but in Colorado was excellent. It was good enough to give Kennedy one of the ten best ERA+ numbers of 2004, and was the only full-season ERA below 4.00 ever for a Rockies' starter. (The closest anyone had ever come before was Armando Reynoso's exactly 4.00 ERA in 1993.) Kennedy can lay claim to the greatest pitching season ever by a starter in Coors Field history.

Of course, it was all rather a fluke, and when Kennedy was traded from the Rockies to the A's in mid-season 2005, he was already sporting an ugly 7.04 ERA. He improved in Oakland, returning to the league average pitcher he had been in Tampa Bay, but it appears that whatever brought Kennedy his 2004 greatness had left him. Given the way balls fly around Coors, however, it may be a long time before his name is erased from the record books.

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