Monday, July 16, 2007

Cubs win fourth straight, add Kendall

Down 2-1 in the eighth inning, I doubted the Cubs again. They proved me wrong again. Call it being a Cubs fan, I guess, but I've been taught to expect the worst from this team.

That's not the case now, though. The Cubs have won four in a row, including sixteen of the last twenty and have been the hottest team in baseball since June 3.

Meanwhile, Jim Hendry announced to Cubs fans that a deal has been struck to acquire three-time all-star Jason Kendall from the Athletics.

#18 Jason Kendall - Catcher
Bats: R, Throws: R
Born: June 26, 1974 (age 33)

2003 PIT: 150 G, 587 AB; .325 AVG / 6 HR / 58 RBI / .399 OBP / .416 SLG
2004 PIT: 147 G, 574 AB; .319 AVG / 3 HR / 51 RBI / .399 OBP / .390 SLG
2005 OAK: 150 G, 601 AB; .271 AVG / 0 HR / 53 RBI / .345 OBP / .321 SLG
2006 OAK: 143 G, 552 AB; .295 AVG / 1 HR / 50 RBI / .367 OBP / .342 SLG
2007 OAK: 80 G, 292 AB; .226 AVG / 2 HR / 22 RBI / .261 OBP / .281 SLG

12-year career totals:
1625 games, 6051 at bats; .298 AVG / 70 HR / 596 RBI / .375 OBP / .395 SLG

There had been some confusion about who Oakland recieved in return, with initial reports including young left-hander Sean Marshall. Dealing Marshall for someone like Kendall would've been a huge mistake and Hendry evidently agreed. More recent reports say catcher Rob Bowen and minor league left hander Jerry Blevins were the Oakland acquisitions. Blevins looked like he had good numbers in A and AA ball, but Kendall should help the Major League club now.

Since the trade of Michael Barrett, the team was struggling for offense at the catcher's position. Before Monday's game, when I heard that Rob Bowen was designated for assignment, I thought it was a mistake. Why lose Bowen when you could option Koyie Hill and keep both guys with the club? Well, Hendry evidently had something planned with Billy Beane already.

With Kendall joining the team, I now fully expect Koyie Hill to be sent down to Iowa. Kendall should be the every day catcher now with Geovany Soto as the backup until Henry Blanco is able to return.

I like the Kendall deal. Yes, he's hitting just .226 this year, but when you look at it, that's actually better than Bowen and Hill. Besides, Kendall has a .298 lifetime average, a .375 on base percentage, and he's been around the Athletics' pennant races in the last two years. Though past his prime, Kendall has put up numbers that have been serviceable for Oakland before this year and a change of scenary certainly can't hurt. He'll bring key intangibles and it's not a stretch of the imagination to think that Kendall could hit .270 or so with the Cubs.

People away from the organization really don't know how badly Cubs' catchers have struggled offensively. So, here are the numbers:

Koyie Hill: .156/.222/.281
Rob Bowen (with Cubs): .065/.167/.097
Geovany Soto: .143/.250/.143

Kendall will help the club, but Hendry better not be done. I still want a relief pitcher and a potent left-handed stick.

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