Friday, November 23, 2007

OK, let's talk about Jason Kendall

The Brewers have addressed their catching situation for the 2008 season by trading Johnny Estrada and signing Jason Kendall. As usually happens, Journal Sentinel baseball expert Tom Haudricourt summarized the move up better than anyone - if you haven't read his blog post on the subject yet, click here. Good follow-up comments by readers on this one as well.

My first thoughts were:

-Glad to get rid of Estrada. Thought trading for him was good when we did it, and he had his moments, but by the end of the season I didn't see him being part of the solution. It started in Philadelphia when he didn't run hard on a double play ball that cost them in an extra-innings loss; he did have a hamstring injury at the time, but the episode painted a picture of a player who was either out of shape or wasn't going to be able to go 100% all the time.

-As long as Kendall was signed for a reasonable salary - as Haudricourt indicates - and not the ridiculous $10 million deal Pittsburgh gave him a few years ago, then this isn't a bad deal. As long as Kendall isn't expected to throw out 50% of base stealers, hit .330, lead off, cure cancer - then he's going to be all right. He did have a terrible year in 2007, and he will need many showers to wash the Cubs stink off of him, but he's a pro and should rebound with a respesctable 2008.

-Several times I've questioned why Mike Rivera hasn't been given more of a chance to be the starting catcher, but he probably is just a journeyman.

As Haudricourt points out, the market for catchers is bleak. The overall outlook on the position is bleak, as anyone who plays fantasy baseball knows full well. Who are the plus catchers in the league nowadays? Jorge Posada, Russell Martin, Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Ben Molina, Pudge Rodriguez, Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltamacchia, Kenji Johjima, Jason Varitek, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Gerald Laird? Almost all of those guys have drawbacks, whether it's defense, age, health, or salary.

So I'm OK with the Brewers treating catcher as more or less a disposable position. If you get a guy who handles pitchers well, is a solid clubhouse guy, does enough in the 8 hole to turn the lineup over - and don't break the bank to get him - then you're doing just fine.

-In other news, it looks like Scott Linebrink will sign with the White Sox for roughly $5 million per year. Shrug. Trading for him was a good deal at the time, and after a rough start he got much better, but like Estrada, he wasn't an essential part of the solution. Getting two relatively high draft picks for him helps take the sting off. Probably would have liked to have the prospects we gave up for him, especially Joe Thatcher, who pitched well with San Diego down the stretch. But we've been drafting well for awhile now, and these picks should strengthen the farm system.

3 comments:

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