The case of Jason Kendall shows off many things so wrong about this organization. For the benefit of those who haven't heard, here's a timeline.
- Jason Kendall, through July 16th: 270 BA/332 OBP/319 SLG
- July 17th, 2010: Jason Kendall hurts his rotator cuff stealing second.
- Jason Kendall, July 17th to August 1st: 255 BA/344 OBP/275 SLG, 13 singles, 1 double, 62 PA
- August 2nd or August 3rd, 2010: Jason Kendall TEARS HIS ROTATOR CUFF on a check swing. Would need to look at ABs to figure out which one of games that occurred. I'd hope it was on August 3rd.
- August 11th, 2010: Ned Yost says Brayan Pena will get more playing time
- Jason Kendall, August 2nd to August 30th: 197 BA/241 OBP/224 SLG, 2 doubles, 13 singles, 84 PA
- September 1st, 2010: Jason Kendall announced out for 8 to 10 months with a rotator cuff injury.
What does the future hold? What does this tell us about the Royals organization?
Question: What does this tell us about the organization?
Honestly, I would be more outraged here if not for Crisp, Aviles, and Meche. The circumstances of the four injuries were not the same, but at the same time, the record of players refusing to sit down has been set in this organization. The early stories of this injury involve Jason Kendall refusing to sit down, preferring to keep playing, and eventually Kendall got an MRI.
How bad was Kendall's arm? He couldn't lift his right arm. I am not lying to you.
Here's how Kendall has faired with throwing out basestealers since tearing his rotator cuff: 6 for 25 (steals by Crisp [IRONY], Barton, Figgins (twice), Aybar, Bourjos, Ramon Pena, Gardner, A-Rod, Jeter, Posada, Donald, Pierzynski, Pierre, Austin Jackson, Brantley, Crowe [three times]).
Bourjos was thrown out by Kendall on August 10th, which should be a mark of shame. Michael Brantley was thrown out on August 19th. Old Man Omar Vizquel was thrown out on August 21st. Mark Kotsay was thrown out on August 22nd. Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera was thrown out on August 28th.
6 for 25 is 24%, slightly below his season average. Kendall gave up 101 steals in 142 attempts. So he was 35 for 117 before tearing his rotator cuff. And six base runners are so bad at stealing bases that a dude with a torn rotator cuff could throw them out. Jason Kendall needs to take that to the inspirational speaking circuit. ("If I could be a horrible baseball player with a torn rotator cuff, you can overcome cancer!")
Playing through a minor injury is nice. Just shutting it down every time you get a bruise is not preferred. But at the same time, playing through an injury that will require surgery is stupid. I don't care how much baseball you saw back in the 1970s when men were men. If you have an injury were you can't lift your arm, YOU NEED TO GO ON THE DISABLED LIST. They do not castrate you if you do the right thing. There are rest injuries, and surgery injuries. Trying to play through a surgery injury is just plainly dumb. Tough? sure. Dumb? definitely.
Jason Kendall hurt the Kansas City Royals by not doing the responsible thing earlier. I find it hard to argue otherwise. I find it hard to argue that an old catcher with a torn rotator cuff was the best catcher this team could field every day. When a player is able to play to the level needed to be a major league player, I want that player to be ready to play every day. But when a player is not healthy, it does nothing for his team for him to not do the responsible thing. In fact, you could argue that Kendall put his own stats first by playing every day. He put the stat of games caught before stats like wins and losses.
What does this tell us about the organization? This organization can't make a player take an MRI. But at the same time, they can provide incentives to do such a thing, like not playing an injured player every day. Or limiting his time until he does the right thing. If this organization is gonna let players Kendall their way towards continued playing time, then they are beyond the grasp of hope. It is better to be safe, than sorry. And it's better to lose a few weeks with preventive measures, than to lose months and years with bad bad injuries. Sometimes the smartest thing to do is hit the brakes, walk backwards, and advance on the best possible terms for you and your employer.
More should be known about the Kendall injury when people poke hard enough. While you can kind of admire the toughness of someone who could make through a month with a torn rotator cuff, it is irresponsible, irrational, and insane.
Question: What does the future hold for Jason Kendall and the Kansas City Royals catching situation in 2011?
Ned Yost says that Jason Kendall could be back by opening day. Anything short of Kendall visiting Benny Hinn is not gonna be enough for Kendall to be back in 7 months. The 8 to 10 month date is from now to May or July 2010. Not counting rehab stints to get Kendall in rhythm. But Jason Kendall is gonna be 37 next year, and coming off of a serious injury. There is a shot that he will not be worthy of starting consistently next year at any point. Can Jason Kendall get off the saddle and let someone else handle the starting duties? There is a shot that Jason Kendall will never play major league baseball again. But then again, Jason Kendall came back from one career-ending injury and I think he wants to do it again. At the same time, it's gonna be very tough and he cannot take on the same load in 2011 that he took on in 2010. Because Kendall was an easy target for steals in 2010 (142 attempts in 118 games), and he will be easy bait in 2011 if he can't establish that his arm is functional. It's baseball, not a gentleman's game. So people might want to take an easy stolen base.
The Kansas City Royals have several options for 2011.
a) Lucas May and Brayan Pena. Kind of amazing that Brayan Pena might make it to 2011 in this organization. The dude has 9 lives. Pena might be kept around for the fact that he knows the pitchers and he is not a rookie. May might get more time, depending on his performance. But the catch is that neither catcher can be outrighted without making it through waivers.
b) Lucas May and Manny Pina. Manny Pina is expendable. He can be moved down to Omaha when Kendall returns and brought back if Kendall returns to the DL. If he can be trusted to start every few days, he wouldn't be an awful backup. But at the same time, I doubt this organization wants two rookies to be the only catchers they have.
c) Lucas May and expendable veteran. The backup catcher is a nomadic breed. They are known by names like LaRue, Henry Blanco, Tom Prince, and they are candidates to manage in the minor leagues. But at the same time, it might be an awkward fit due to the possibility that Kendall will return in 2011, get a majority of starts, and the Royals would then have to bring up Pina if Kendall can't handle the load.
For the pluses of not having Jason Kendall playing, the injury of Jason Kendall has some negatives. The injury puts this organization in a bind in regards to it's catching ranks. It should be interesting to see what happens. The best case scenario is that Jason Kendall gets a job for life as an inspirational speaker ("I came back from having my ankle crushed and my rotator cuff torn, you can lose 30lbs"). The worst case scenario is that the organization has to shuffle cards to account for an ineffective and unhealthy Kendall.
So, what do you all think?