Friday, July 30, 2004

Kendall would be a good fit for struggling Sox

One name that hasn’t been bandied about during this year's trade-deadline buildup like it has been in the past is that of Pirates catcher Jason Kendall.

Almost from the moment Kendall signed a six-year, $60 million contract in November of 2000, the Pirates have been trying to unload him. This albatross is part of the legacy of former Pirates GM Cam Bonifay.

Kendall is obviously overpaid, having signed his deal as player salaries peaked, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a useful player. In fact, he’s a player the White Sox could desperately use.

Kendall is an on-base machine, reaching at a .392 clip this season through Friday’s games. His OBP last year was .399 and his career OBP is .386.

Kendall will hit for decent doubles power, but very little home run power. But it’s not power that Chicago’s lineup is severely lacking. It’s his ability to reach base.

The 30-year-old Pittsburgh receiver could slot nicely at the top of the Sox’ lineup while fixing the hole created behind the plate when Miguel Olivo was sent to Seattle in the Garcia trade.

The downside is that Kendall is owed some hefty change for the next three years ($9.5 million next year, $10.5 million in 2006, $12.5 in 2007, plus about $4.5 in deferred money), but the Sox might be able to swing that deal for four reasons.

The first is that with the boost in attendance, and the likelihood Magglio Ordonez will not make $14 million from the Sox (because his injury kills his market value, or someone else pays him that incredible amount), means the Sox can probably afford it.

The second reason is that the Pirates might be willing to eat some of the salary. It won’t be half the salary, like the Padres insisted the Bucs do when they tried to land Kendall along with Brian Giles last year after the trade deadline, but if it’s a few million each year, that would lessen the financial blow considerably.

The third reason is that because of the big salary, the Sox won’t have to give up big-time prospects like Joe Borchard, Ryan Sweeney or Brian Anderson.

And lastly, the Sox don’t have another catcher in the organization to take over the position for the next three years like Olivo would have done. This would lock in a solid – though overpaid – performer for those three years.

If Kenny Williams isn't already talking to the Pirates, here's hoping he is trying to find some way to inject some sorely needed OBP back into Chicago's lineup.

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