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Kendall, the Universe, and Everything

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I've been on vacation for the last three weeks, mostly (gasp!) without internet.  Much, of course, has happened in that time.  Looks like Roguejim did a great job filling in (thanks!) and it's always nice to see so much activity in the diaries.

I've received a fair number of emails asking for my take on just about everything that has happened to the Brewers in my absence, so I thought I'd welcome myself back by touching on the main issues.

But first, I wanted to share the details of the Kendall contract:

Jason Kendall will be guaranteed $4.25 million under the one-year contract he and the Milwaukee Brewers intended to finalize Wednesday...

In addition to his base salary, Kendall can earn $1 million in performance bonuses next year: $100,000 for 110 games, $150,000 each for 120 and 130 games, $150,000 for 100 starts, $200,000 for 115 starts and $250,000 for 130 starts.

The deal includes an option for 2009 that would become guaranteed at $4.25 million if Kendall starts 110 games next year, $4.35 million if he starts 120 games and $4.6 million if he starts 130 games. Any 2008 performance bonuses that he earns based on games -- but not starts -- would be added to his 2009 base salary.

So, in short, I'll be rooting for a big comeback season consisting of about 108 games.  

Highlights

Coco's gone.  I'm not surprised that he's gone, but I'm surprised he didn't get more money.  The dominoes started falling faster than I expected once Mariano Rivera resigned.  I thought it was possible Cordero would get 5 years, and for a shorter deal, I thought he'd easily get $12-$13 per.  He still did plenty well for himself.  I'm perfectly happy freeing up that payroll room.

Estrada-Mota.  I'm happy to be rid of Estrada--at this point, it's not entirely rational, but that's how I feel.  What's weird about this (I'm not the first person to note it, of course) is that this looks like a sort of salary-dump deal...only we didn't need to dump salary.  We could've just non-tendered Johnny.  So, essentially, Doug Melvin must think Mota is worth at least $3.2MM.  I think he's wrong.  I don't think Mota is going to be awful...if we get lucky, he might be Matt Wise v2, but that's the upside.  I'd put even odds on Seth McClung outperforming him.

Hello, Jason Kendall.  This, I don't like.  But, as we've discussed to no end, it's not like there are lots of good catchers available.  I think we spent too much money (is there really somebody else out there who would've given Kendall close to $4.5MM?), and the option/guarantee part really freaks me out.  I've been meaning for a while to do a study or two on catcher ERA -- I think I have a way to look at it that might actually shed some light on whether some catchers really are good at game-calling.  Until then, I remain skeptical, and I wouldn't have minded punting at catcher and going with a Mike Rivera/Damien Miller platoon.  The offensive production wouldn't have been worse.

Linebrink to the White Sox.  So, we don't get a 1st round pick, but we do get a couple extras in the first 75 or so.  I'm not surprised he got this much money, though a bit taken aback that he got four years.  I hope Kenny Williams likes having his Octobers free.

Will Turnbow close?  No, he probably won't.  I'd be really surprised if Melvin doesn't sign one of the remaining closers or swing a trade for somebody.  Of course he says that he's comfortable putting D-Bow back in the 9th, because that's what GMs have to say to maintain a respectable negotiating position.  

The Brewers are linked with every lame reliever out there.  This is the downside of all the moves I've mentioned so far.  I was glancing at the Rotoworld news page this morning and it seemed like every single middle reliever is linked with us.  Let's see...Matt Herges, Octavio Dotel, David Riske, and that's just today's news.  Actually, those guys aren't lame...and I would probably be happy with a Riske signing.  (High Riske, high reward?  You knew I would.)  If only we could trust Ned to be a little savvier, Riske would be a nice complement for good Turnbow, closing on days after Derrick pitched.

Ryan Braun's defense is bad.  I know.  It seems like every damn comment thread I read and every hot-stove article is obligated to bring this up somewhere.  We know he might change positions.  Yes, Milwaukee's infield defense makes the pitching staff look worse.  I know it's the offseason and sometimes it's a struggle to fill column inches, but for crying out loud, we get the point.