My buddy John called me the other day to talk a little bit about the Brewers, one of the things he said to me was "dude, Gregg Zaun is awful." Now, I'm pretty sure that he judged this completely off of the one televised game the Brewers had shown at the time. Or maybe he is basing it off of his career numbers. Either way, he is pretty sure that Gregg Zaun is awful. Which is okay by him because "as long as you are a Brewers fan, you shouldn't expect any production out of the catcher position".
Of course, he's right. Dave Nilsson and BJ Surhoff were probably the two best catchers the Brewers have had in the past twenty years and their best seasons came away from the dish. The rest of the list is filled with a who's who of backup catchers from other, far better teams. If your team has ever signed Jason Kendall and had him be considered an "upgrade", you can be pretty sure your catcher wasn't that good.
Of course, he's also wrong. You don't judge Gregg Zaun by the same standard that you judge, say, Corey Hart. A catcher's body gets extremely beaten up over the season (and in Jason Kendall's case, his face too), while Corey Hart's just gets tatt-ed up. Hitting isn't the be-all, end-all of the catcher position. As an outfielder or a DH, Gregg Zaun IS awful, but as a catcher he is average to above average. It's all relative. (He's also wrong because as of this writing Gregg Zaun is hitting .417 in spring training! WOOO!)
The real issue here is spring training. It doesn't matter and if there was anything else going on we would know that, but there isn't anything else going on so we don't. Spring training is exactly what the name implies, training. Warm up. Practice. Newspaper writers and FSN try to get you hyped up about this player's "strong spring" just to have something to talk about, but that's the only reason they're doing it. Often times the player making the team after a "strong spring" ends up cut, like Brad Nelson did last season. Getting excited over a player's showing in spring training is like getting excited that the stripper likes you. It's not real. (Except for Sapphire. She really likes me. I know it.)
Need an example? I've got a great one, JJ Hardy. Last year JJ Hardy hit .403 with 4 home runs in spring training and by September he was playing in Nashville. Do you honestly think he cared about his "strong spring"? Say what you want about JJ Hardy, but I am pretty sure he would have traded all of his spring training hits for a few more during the regular season. (Even if it would have cost him his sweet vacation.) Here's another, Jason Kendall hit 3 home runs last spring then hit two all season in six times as many games. Spring training means nothing. It's practice. We are talking about practice. Let's all try and remember that.
Tags: bj surhoff, brad nelson, brewers, career numbers, Corey Hart, dave nilsson, dh, dish, FSN, game, gregg zaun, jason kendall, little bit, outfielder, spring training, strong spring, t spring, tatt, twenty years