Forget the details of patches for a second. What matters is, what is the distributor's preferred form for making modifications? If there is a difference between the form they prefer internally and the form they distribute onward, then we have to ask whether the recipients have been short-changed out of their rights. Precisely how much information is a distributor allowed to obfuscate before there is a problem?
E.g. if the patches are of no import to making modifications to a source code, then why have RedHat decided to try get a competitive advantage by withholding them? Clearly RedHat feel having the split-out patches helps them to maintain and modify the kernel they ship. My experience is that having patches (more precisely, access to the history) can be *very* important to making further modifications (finding recently introduced bugs particularly, and modifying them).
I know RedHat is "Good", I know they put in lots of resources into Linux and free software. I really want them to be able to succeed in their business. However, let's be careful to remain dispassionate about this - do any GPL copyright holders involved really want to concede that it's perfectly fine for distributors to deliberately withhold fairly important source-related information? (Obviously some of those copyright holders also have a strong interest in the continuing success of RedHat).