Kyle Kendrick’s Arbitration Case

Recently at Beyond the Box Score, the omnipresent Dave Gershman wrote a simulation of an arbitration hearing, using Francisco Liriano as an example. It was very informative and enlightening, but with Kyle Kendrick headed to arbitration, I wish to be a fly on the wall in that exchange. Here’s my best guess as to how Kendrick’s arbitration process will go down.

. . .

Kendrick’s agent slides a folded piece of looseleaf paper across the table towards GM Ruben Amaro. Amaro does the same. Both unfold the paper and read the suggestion for Kendrick’s 2011 salary.

Amaro: This is outrageous. I can’t afford to pay Kyle that much. He won’t even start the season in the rotation.

Agent: We think it’s fair compensation for the time and effort Kyle put in during his time in the organization. He’s done whatever the Phillies have asked of him, whether it’s filling in for an injured pitcher, moving to the bullpen, or accepting a demotion down to the Minors. Kyle’s a team guy and he deserves to be recognized for it.

Amaro sits quietly, listening to Kendrick’s agent. Amaro pauses for several seconds after the agent stops talking, reveals a TV remote, and turns the flat-screen TV on. This video clip plays.

Amaro: I can’t pay $3 million for that. Kyle, I recognize and appreciate everything you’ve done for our organization, but your performance doesn’t merit that kind of salary. I was happy to pay you $480,000 last year and I am quite fine with raising your pay, but not to that level. Unless we trade Joe Blanton, you won’t even be in the starting rotation. It just doesn’t work.

Kendrick attempts “sad puppy eyes”. Amaro is unfazed.

Agent: What will you do if and when you trade Blanton? You have no one else to step up and fill in. Everyone knows Blanton will be wearing a different uniform by August 1. What if Kyle decides he doesn’t want to be a team guy anymore because you jilted him in arbitration?

Amaro leans back in his chair, sipping from his styrofoam cup of coffee. He belches.

Amaro: We are fine with letting Vance Worley get a turn in the rotation. His numbers are superior to Kyle’s in every way, you know.

Agent: His numbers are so good that you let him start a whopping two times. How about in 2007 when Kyle was thrown in the rotation and pitched the Phillies into the playoffs?

Amaro: If we had that rotation from 2007 now, where Kendrick was a legit #3, I’d be more open to meeting your demands. But we have R2C2. We could use a 4-man rotation if we wanted to.

Amaro’s Blackberry, resting on the table, vibrates. He checks it, reading his daily Joke of the Day text. A sight smile breaks the scowl Amaro had been wearing for the past 20 minutes.

Kendrick: Listen, I’m not asking for much. I just want to be fairly compensated for my effort like everybody else in the league. What’s the big deal? You spent like a billion dollars on Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee but you can’t give me an extra million or two?

Remember that time you guys pranked me and told me I was traded to Japan? I took that like a champ. I was such a good sport. Now I kind of wish I really had been traded.

Amaro: Actually, we have been talking with some Japanese teams about moving you. They would be willing to pay you what you think you’re worth. We haven’t agreed on anything yet, but we could get something done within the next month or so.

Kendrick: Really?

Amaro: No.

Kendrick: What the fork! Pranking me in an arbitration conference?

Amaro finishes the last of his cinnamon roll. Some icing is left on the corner of his mouth. He lifts up his tie and wipes it off.

Amaro: This is boring and I have places to be. I’ll go $1.5 million for you this year, that’s about as high as we can go. If you two think you can do better, you’re welcome to move on. The fact is, pitchers like Kyle are a dime-a-dozen. You guys should be happy I’m even willing to discuss a pay raise at all. Kyle’s K/9 was the lowest in the Majors last year. His sinker barely sinks and his fastball is flat. That’s not an integral part of the 2011 Phillies.

Amaro lifts up the remote and plays this video clip, then exits the room.

Kendrick and his agent quietly discuss their options. Kendrick takes out his laptop.

Agent: You should take the $1.5 million. You have a good thing going here and you might even win another World Series. And I don’t really think the arbiters will rule in your favor anyway.

Kendrick doesn’t acknowledge what his agent said.

Agent: Hello? Kyle? You listening?

Kendrick emphatically slams the Enter key, then folds up his laptop. A printer turns on.

Agent: What did you just do?

Kendrick walks over to the printer. It is a receipt from an airline website.

Kendrick: I just bought a one-way ticket to Japan. Get on the phone and find me a job over there. Inform my wife.