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Milwaukee Brewers: It's Time for a Catching Platoon

TUCSON,AZ - MARCH 1: Mike Rivera #11 of the Milwaukee Brewers swings at the pitch against the Colorado Rockies during a spring training game at Hi Corbett Field on March 1, 2008 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jesse MotiffSenior Analyst IApril 21, 2009

Brewers manager Ken Macha entered this season stating that Jason Kendall would be the starting catcher, but Mike Rivera would get regular work, catching every time Dave Bush would take the mound.

It's time for Macha to amend that declaration and make the catching situation a full platoon position.

Jason Kendall has gotten off to a horribly slow start to the season, both in the batter's box and behind the plate. Kendall is batting only .129 in 10 games, while only slugging .161 with an on-base percentage of .243.

The strength of Kendall's game last year was his accuracy in throwing out would-be base stealers. He threw out 41-of-96 runners last season. So far in 2009, Kendall has only thrown out 1-of-9 base runners. His throws have been weak and well off the mark several times. 

Mike Rivera had a good season last year despite limited playing time. He has carried that over to this season and has earned the right to get more playing time. Rivera has started two games and has three hits in those two starts. Two of the three hits have been for extra bases. He has also thrown out one of the two runners that have attempted to swipe a base. 

Rivera is currently Dave Bush's personal catcher but he also has experience catching Manny Parra and Yovani Gallardo in the minors. He would also be able to adapt to veterans Braden Looper and Jeff Suppan if given the chance to catch them as well.

Neither Kendall nor Rivera is at a level of an elite or even a very good catcher. A platoon would give Kendall enough rest that would hopefully help elevate his numbers at the plate while allowing Rivera a chance to play more and give the catcher position a bit more power in the lineup.

If Kendall can improve his plate performance, I'm all for him playing the majority of the time. However, he has yet to show any sort of consistency at the plate in his time in Milwaukee.

2009 will likely be the last year in Milwaukee for either Kendall or Rivera. Highly touted prospect Angel Salome should be ready for the big club in 2010 and will likely share time with one of the two current catchers.

Until that time, Kendall and Rivera should share time until one of them proves they are capable of catching every day.

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