Thursday, December 09, 2004

posted by James - 1:13 AM

Ol' Master Hendry tried to slip one through on everybody last night. As if locking up this year’s middle infield wasn't enough, he didn't stop there.

He made one of those moves where, down the road, a rival GM will think, "Hendry made a lot of good moves, but I've put together a solid team, filling all of my offseason objectives."

"Even if I didn't add All-Stars, MVPs and Cy Youngs to my team, at least I didn't leave a gaping hole at backup..."

"WHA??? When did he sign Blanco? NOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Yup, Master Hendry eradicated the production sink calling himself Paul Bako last night when he signed former Twins, Brewers, and, most importantly, Braves catcher Henry Blanco to a two-year, $2.75 million deal.

This means no more pretending our backup catcher/Maddux caddy is making an honest contribution to the team because he's lefthanded or has blood running through is veins (Bako had one or the other. I'm thoroughly convinced he didn't have both).

The Mikes over at Old Style Cubs are having fun with this.

Mike Ein:
"The fact that he is making $1.35 million this year to basically be a giant glove upsets me a bit.

Are you telling me there isn't a better backup catcher option on the market?"
Mike Zwei:
"Zero reasonable options for a backup catcher besides Bako and Blanco. Since Blanco is clearly better defensively and about equal with Bako offensively, its a pretty clear choice.

$1.35 mil isn't an outrageous amount for a guy that is excellent defensively and can keep Maddux a little happier.

I like it, and you should like it too."
I do like it, heap much.

Not only is Blanco the better defensive catcher (it's not even close with Bako dipping below a .990 fielding percentage the last two years), especially when it comes to throwing out runners where Blanco bested Bako by 20% last year, but Blanco at least contributes something offensively.

It's a given that Blanco will improve the team's defense at catcher, even if it's only in 25% (as I worship the gods in control of keeping all Cubs healthy in 2005) of the innings at catcher. And he brings some pop with the bat... 10 HRs in 2004, which I think any team would welcome from a 300-AB backstop.

Bako has just one over the last two years! I'm surprised to see Bako's career HR total has bested Blanco's 2004 season... by a whole four!

Just in case you think he found other ways to contribute, because even I know the almighty dinger ain't the only way to slay a dragon. Uh-uh! After watching him in person on several occasions last year, I'm shocked to find he managed as many RBIs as Blanco had homers!

Blanco's the best catcher Master Hendry's going to get for that price. Heck, the Mariners are shelling out more than this for Dan Wilson to be their backup, and he brings nothing positive 'cept a guest appearance to bump the annual Mariners Wives Bake Sale.

Maybe I can come up with a gripe about guaranteeing the second year, but I'm sure it's no small coincidence the length of the contract is exactly the length of time Maddux is scheduled to be here. And whatever makes Maddux happy, makes me happy.

I like it. Mikey likes it. Maddux likes it. And Master Hendry likes it.

As President Bartlet is keen to say: “What’s Next?”

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