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Kendall's numbers don't justify iron man duty


During last night's game, Bill and Brian discussed how few catchers catch virtually every day like Kendall has this season and in the past. The guys who have in recent years you can count on one hand if not one finger.

 

We all know Kendall was an iron man for Pittsburgh. But that was when he was in his 20's and he had to play every day on that team because he arguably was their best hitter at the time. But time and all those games have taken their toll on Kendall somewhat and at age 33 (soon to be 34), he's not hitter he once was, and he's certainly not among the top hitters in this lineup.

 

This year after a hot start, he's cooled considerably. In May, he's hitting .226/.314/.290. Overall his numbers looked pedestrian: .265/.343/.347. Those aren't numbers that tell me he has to be in there every day. We haven't even reached the hot weather and he's already wearing down.

 

This is not to knock Kendall's contribution to this point. He's thrown the ball much better than anyone thought he would and he's contributed offensively. But he's not an elite catcher or hitter that has to be in there 150 games and he might be more effective with the bat resting once or twice a week instead of once every two weeks.

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I think Kendall needs to be in their as many games as he wants as hes the perfect 9 hitter as he takes alot of pitches draws walks and hardly hits into DPs.. Hes been around and knows most the hitters in both leagues and calls very good games so i would take his leadership any time over a young stud whos just breaking into the big leagues....
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I think Kendall needs to be in their as many games as he wants
Every player wants to play every game though. I'm sure Jason will tell Ned he can catch every single day, and yes I know he's caught 150 games in a number of seasons. I'm sure he'll catch over 115 this year, which I'm pretty sure is where his vesting option for next year kicks in, but he's not getting any younger, and keeping him and his surprisingly good defense as fresh as possible is in the best interest of both Jason and the team.
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I'm with Briggs. Yost is killing the guy. I believe his numbers will soon drop dramatically if Ned doesn't get the guy some rest. Rivera is more than capable of starting two games a week. You will get better production out of Kendall if he gets some rest.
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Not only do you get better production out of Kendall if he's rested, you have to keep Rivera sharp. He's had 5 starts in almost 2 months. Nobody can stay sharp offensively or defensively playing that infrequently.

 

Yost is deferring too much to Kendall wanting to play everyday. As my original post stated, Kendall remembers when he was successful playing every day in Pittsburgh. But he was in his 20's and on a team that had nothing around him and they had to have his bat in there. That's how he got that big contract. This current Brewer team has enough bats, that they can live with Rivera starting a bit more frequently and it's not like Rivera can't get hits now and then. He's got 6 RBI barely playing.

 

While still useful and capable of being a number one catcher, Kendall's not the same player he was 6 years ago.

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I think we'll see him getting more rest when the weather changes. When we start getting those 80 and 90 degree days.

 

Other than maybe in the Florida series, have they played a game yet where the temperature stayed above 65 for the entire game?

 

Catching every day when the temp is below 60 is much different than catching when it's in the 90's.

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"Catching every day when the temp is below 60 is much different than catching when it's in the 90's."

 

But his production has already fallen off. .265 with no power does not justify catching virtually every day in Siberia, no matter how patient a hitter he is. If he were still hitting .300 with one or two multi hit games a week, then sure ride the hot bat, but at this point in his career he is what he is, capable, dependable, middle of the road starting catcher and middle of the road starting catchers rest once or twice a week.

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With Yost and Simmons you have two guys who know enough aobut catchers workloads to understand what type of workload Kendall can handle. Especially if Kendall is telling them he can. I just don't understand why it's so hard to believe a player in his 30's might have an idea how much of a workload he can handle and communicate that to the manager. I don't buy the he wants to play every day and any good player would want to play everyday line in the least. A young player trying to impress maybe there is merit to that line of thought. A veteran should and does know his limits. Especially when that catcher has been around the game all his life, is the son of a catcher, and is managed by a former catcher who has a former catcher as a bench coach. I'd have to think combined they probably have some sort of idea on this.

I don't think Kendalls decline in production can be attributed to the play unless someone thought he was going to bat at a .350 pace all season long. Let him play if he faulters call up Rottino to boost production later in the seaosn if necessary.

I do wonder if some of the useage has to do with a lack of confidence in Rivera as a catcher though. There has to be some sort of reason why he never caught on before this if he was anywhere near decent given the lack catching in the league.

There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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I said this yesterday in a different thread...

 

IMO, Kendall's real value is in his handling of the pitchers and his defense.

 

Anything you get at the plate is a bonus. As long as he's not hitting .200 when August comes around, he's fine.

 

 

Also, nice post by "backupcatchers".

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So JHart05, you don't mind if we have two pitchers in the lineup? I completely disagree that offense is a bonus from the catcher. Especially when you have 3 other players on the team hitting less than .220. So if he hits .220 that is fine with you? If he does hit .220 it is my opinion it will be because he was overworked early in the season. You would think Simmons and Yost have enough knowledge, but as ex-catchers they might also buy in to Kendall's bravado of catching every day. We are not talking Piazza with the bat here, and therefore a day off is not going to hurt our overall offense. I never expected him to hit .350, but I will contend that his average and OBP would remain higher if he was given more time off. We may never know who is right in this matter, but it is my opinion that Kendall is going to fade badly in July and August. And, keep in mind, if he is hitting .220 in July then what was his actual average from April 30th on, considering his incredible start. I do agree with you that his catching is more important, as he does a great job, but I still think we need production.
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I agree with the title of the thread. However, I don't feel Rivera's numbers justify anything more than a couple starts a month, either. Like others have said, it's just the nature of catchers.
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I get what you're saying shelmank but i don't think the extra couple singles Kendall is going to hit would make up for the defense that he brings. It doens't make sense to score one more run if it costs the pitcher two runs. As I said if it does become a problem and his production tappers off so bad as to be a real problem we have an offensive minded catcher in the minors who the Brewers have been grooming to be a possible starter in the near future anyway. When the time comes they can give Kendall a break wihtout harming the team in the process. Until then this is one area I'm not overyly concerned about because of the history of durability with Kendall and the fact that the combo of SImba, Yost and Kendall is one that should be competent to handle. Even if you don't think Yost is smart enough to manage his way out of a paper bag given the other factors this is the one place where maybe he could be considered competent.
There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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I'm a little confused about this whole "handling the pitchers" line that keeps coming up in regards to Kendall. We're currently sporting a team ERA of 4.64 - good for second to last in the NL. Our team WHIP is 1.50 - second to last in the NL. We're 11th in the NL in strikeouts, and we've walked the 4th most batters in the NL. What exactly is Kendall doing in terms of "handling the pitchers" that's so great? It seems to be based on reputation more than anything else. Does anyone care to give some numbers that try to prove or at least argue that Kendall is somehow helping our pitchers? I'm not interested in anecdotal stuff - I'd like to see the stats to back up his reputation.
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I guess I don't understand why it's so necessary to have Counsell starting twice a week to "keep him fresh", but our backup catcher just sits there and plays once every three weeks? Plus, there some kind of (in my opinion) stupid unwritten rule that says you absolutely can't use your backup catcher as a pinch hitter, so if he doesn't play the game, he will undoubtedly sit on the bench and rot away.

 

I think I like having Kendall in there as much as possible, but I don't understand why Rivera can't catch for a vet with not much movement on his pitches like Suppan. With Sheets having the hammer, I would rather have Kendall back there. And with the young guys I would rather have Kendall back there, but I don't see why Rivera can't play once every 5 days when Soup pitches.

If I had Braun's pee in my fridge I'd tell everybody.

~Nottso

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Much of Kendall's regression is just him coming back to the mean. I'd be all for getting him a day off once a week however, and try to make it before an off day when there is one.

 

If they picked up a solid backup, like Gerald Laird, it'd be simple. Rivera gets out so much, it's tough to like the options.

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I don't understand the fascination with Rivera some have around here, he's simply not a good player. That being said, Kendall needs a day off here and there or it's going to be a long second half for him, he's no spring chicken anymore.

"You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

- Plato

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something."

- Plato

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Just some more thoughts on if Kendall is doing a good job with our pitchers. Obviously the following stats are influenced by a HUGE range of factors (defense, personnel changes, schedule, luck), but I thought it would be interesting to compare some basic numbers between our '07 and '08 pitching staffs.

2007:
ERA: 4.41
ERA+: 101
K/Inning: .81
BB/Inning: .35
HR/Inning: .11

2008
ERA: 4.66
ERA+: 91
K/Inning: .72
BB/Inning: .44
HR/Inning: .14

Our ERA is worse, we're walking more, we're striking out less, and we're giving up more homers. As bad as our pitching was last year, it's even worse 1/4 of the way through this season. What, if any, contribution does Kendall have to all of this or should we assume that we would be far worse without him?

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I'm not interested in anecdotal stuff - I'd like to see the stats to back up his reputation.

 

This is one of those areas that anecdotal evidence is the only kind. If there was some sort of stat that showed how well a catcher handled the staff I'm sure it would have been posted multiple times. What we do have is the fact that he is one of if not the best catchers at throwing out runners this season. He has a reputation of being a good game caller for what ever that's worth. We also have the best statof all which is the games played thisyear. If Kendall was no better than Rivera he wouldn't be playing so much.

There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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Rivera isn't very good. But Kendall isn't very good either. Even with his insanely hot start, his OPS+ is now down to 80, which is right around Rivera's career mark (78), and is probably all we should realistically expect out of either of them. I prefer Kendall's OBP-heavy 80 OPS+ to Rivera's SLG-heavy 80 OPS+, but that (plus defense) is why Kendall is the starter and Rivera is the backup. That Kendall WANTS to play every day, and that every organization he's ever played for has let him, are not intelligent reasons why he should. I don't know whether Kendall would hit any better with more days off, but it seems like a reasonable supposition. If the dropoff to Rivera were more substantial, I could see playing Kendall as often as the Brewers do. It isn't, so they shouldn't.
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If the dropoff to Rivera were more substantial, I could see playing Kendall as often as the Brewers do. It isn't, so they shouldn't.

 

This is the reaosn why I think it has something todo with defnese and game management. Either Kendal is really good at it or Rivera is Estradesque or some combination of the two. When evaluating a catcher defense plays a bigger roll than any other position so OPS+ and such isn't going to be a main reason to play him or not.

There needs to be a King Thames version of the bible.
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This question has already been asked in this thread, though not in as direct a fashion, but:

 

Why, if Kendall is so all-fired good at calling a game, and Estrada was so lousy at it, and catcher game management is so terribly important, have Villy, Bush, and (to a lesser extent) Parra all pitched worse this season than they did last season, while Sheets and Suppan are about the same?

 

With Cameron / Kapler / Gwynn in center and Braun off of 3B, the defense behind them should be (at worst) no worse than last year.

 

I do think Kendall is better at calling a game (everybody does, who am I to disagree?), I just don't think it matters nearly as much as some seem to think it does. If it did, there'd be some way to measure the effects it has on pitcher performance. Nobody's ever found a way to do so, and lots of smart people have tried.

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I gotta say i think alot of the problems so far is the pitching staff missing on the pitches that Kendall calls... How often is our SP gettin hammered cuz they cant keep the ball down... When a pitcher pitches high in the zone do we blame Kendall or do we blame the pitcher???
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