2010 MLB Predictions: What I Expect from Gregg Zaun
When the Brewers cut ties with veteran catchers Jason Kendall and Mike Rivera this winter, it appeared they were poised to turn the catching reins over to their top two prospects at the position: Jonathan Lucroy and Angel Salome.
That's both a scary and dangerous risk for an organization to take, so Brewers' GM Doug Melvin went out and signed George Kottaras and Gregg Zaun.
Kottaras is 26 and saw very limited action with the Boston Red Sox the last two seasons. Zaun, who will turn 39 in mid-April, is actually a few years older than Kendall.
Zaun spent time last season playing for both the Orioles and Rays. He played the previous five seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays. Entering his 16th season, the Brewers will be the ninth team the backstop has played for.
For fans who were frustrated by the lack of offense from Kendall, don't expect anything different from the newcomer. Zaun is a career .251 hitter with a .344 on-base average. He possesses a bit more pop in his bat than Kendall does, but nothing that will overly excite the fan base.
Kendall's best quality was his durability, something Zaun is lacking. Only once in his career has he played in more than 110 games. Kendall has done so every year of his career except in 1999 when he dislocated his ankle.
The lack of durability means one thing: whoever the back-up turns out to be, he will be counted on to be a key member of the team.
Zaun, and to a lesser extent Kottaras, were brought in simply as a short-term solution to fill a role until either Lucroy or Salome are ready to become the full-time starter.
Lucroy passed Salome as the team's top catching prospect last season and there's still an outside chance he could start the season as Zaun's back-up.
Both Lucroy and Salome are young enough to expect long careers with the team. Lucroy is the better defensive player, while Salome is much more adept with the bat in his hands.
The duo should provide a good balance for the team and complement each other quite well.
For now, Zaun will have to serve the role for the year. He signed a one-year deal with a club option for 2011. It's unlikely the Brewers will pick up the option if either young catcher is ready for the show.
Fans haven't seen a lot of production from their catchers over the past few seasons, and they shouldn't expect anything different this year. If Zaun can play in 110 games and hit .260, fans should be overjoyed.
If they can endure one more season of below-average play from a catcher, they should be rewarded for the next several seasons with two very good young backstops.
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here .
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