I've been watching baseball my entire life and if there is one thing I've learned it's that you have to hate at least one person on your favorite team at all times. It's impossible to love 25 guys at the same time. You have to dislike a few. All season long Jason Kendall and Jeff Suppan have been neck and neck for the title of punching bag, but with Suppan's injury and Kendall's recent slump it seems that Kendall has taken the crown once and for all. And I couldn't be happier.
With Suppan it's always more about expectations and money than it is about performance. He is not good, I am not saying that he is. It's just that he is a 4th starter and he is expected to be a fourth starter, he just happens to be paid exorbirantly well for a fourth starter. It's not his fault that he took the money, who wouldn't? He is what he is.
With Kendall it's different. He's a catcher and catcher's aren't supposed to hit, but he is so bad at hitting that it's become a joke. The story goes that he overcomes his hitting by his value in handling the pitchers. The pitchers like throwing to him. Let's just go ahead and debunk that REAL QUICK.
OPS Leaders by Catchers with at least 300 PA
1 Joe Mauer 1.022 2 Mike Napoli 0.902 3 Brian McCann 0.874 4 Victor Martinez 0.850 5 A.J. Pierzynski 0.800 6 Jason Varitek 0.780 7 Kurt Suzuki 0.726 8 Yadier Molina 0.722 9 Russell Martin 0.706 10 Rod Barajas 0.694 11 Bengie Molina 0.689 12 Ramon Hernandez 0.685 13 Ivan Rodriguez 0.667 14 Gerald Laird 0.646 15 Dioner Navarro 0.588 16 Jason Kendall 0.584
National League ERA Leaders
1 San Francisco 3.47 2 LA Dodgers 3.60 3 Atlanta 3.76 4 Chicago Cubs 3.77 5 St. Louis 3.79 6 Arizona 4.22 7 Colorado 4.22 8 Florida 4.22 9 NY Mets 4.26 10 Pittsburgh 4.34 11 Philadelphia 4.36 12 Houston 4.38 13 Cincinnati 4.45 14 San Diego 4.66 15 Milwaukee 4.82 16 Washington 5.03
Now,that's strange. The worst hitting everyday catcher also has the 2nd worst pitching staff in the NL. At least he throws runners out. What? He's only thrown out 21% this year? Well, gee. I just don't know what to say to that. Let me think about this for a second.
Okay, I got it.
Jason Kendall is not good. He's old. If history has taught us anything it's that baseball players tend to not be good anymore at 35 years old. That's why steroids were invented, to help people still play baseball at a decent level at the age of 35. Unfortunately, some genius in Washington decided to outlaw steroids and now we are stuck with this guy. Thanks a lot bureaucratic fat cats. Historically August and September are some of Kendall's best hitting months, but I am not sure if we should expect that. Afterall, Kendall has been sharply declining for the past 6 years and this does seem like the natural end to that decline. Anything worse than this is Uecker level and honestly, Kendall doesn't seem that funny to me. Funny looking maybe, but not funny.
The point is that Jason Kendall is the Brewers fan's favorite punching bag and he deserves every bit of it. He is a letdown on a day to day basis and his lack of power is embarassing. Ever been to a game when he's batting and the guy decides to play the "Hit it to the Harleys" thing? That laughter you hear is coming from me. If you see a flyball hit by Kendall don't bother cheering, it's a short fly to center. Guaranteed. If Ken Macha ever gets fired, reason number one will be "Kendall leads off". He is not good. He sucks and while I don't condone booing if there was ever a player whose day to day performance deserved it, it would be Jason Kendall.
So punch away, Brewers fan. You deserve it.
(Now the question is what do the Brewers do about this? Macha and Melvin are too fiercely loyal to him for some odd reason to take him out. They won't put in Rivera and they definitely won't take one of the better catchers in a salary dump for the rest of the season. This obviously makes no sense if you look at ANY statistics, but there is something about pitching staffs and continuity that you hardly ever see catchers traded midseason. So what do we do? Just hope he isn't back next year. Prayer might help too. And sacrificing something wouldn't hurt.)