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Gregg Zaun Has Retired

This morning, Padres catcher Gregg Zaun rather surprisingly announced his retirement from baseball, citing a lack of stamina and sustainable arm strength. Nearly 40 years old, Zaun played for 16 seasons, posting an OPS+ of 84 in his first eight and 96 in his second. Zaun always fought against the perception that catchers decline early, and he was able to stick it out longer than most.

This is relevant to us for three reasons. One, it means the future of his badass website is up in the air. This link has been making the rounds for years, dating back to when it first went live, and still it has yet to be surpassed by a peer.

Two, it means that Rob Johnson now stands an excellent chance of breaking camp with the team. Where before it looked like Johnson was destined for AAA, waiting for Zaun or Nick Hundley to get hurt, now he's the clear #2. The job won't be handed to him, but there isn't much in the way of competition, depending on your opinion of Guillermo Quiroz. Johnson lives.

And three - and most importantly - think back to the offseason. The Mariners were searching for a veteran catcher, and the team was rather strongly linked to Zaun as a free agent. Shortly thereafter, they opted instead to sign Miguel Olivo to a two-year contract. People were less than pleased, given their memories of Olivo and Zaun's recent success, and many didn't understand why the team did what it did.

There were clear reasons at the time, most notably that Olivo was a durable starter while Zaun was more of a backup. But Zaun was also coming off major surgery on his shoulder, and it's very possible the front office decided he was too much of a risk, and/or saw something in the medicals it didn't like. Zaun says that his arm strength is okay now, but it doesn't last very long. What if the M's figured something like that might end up being the case?

Roster management is complicated, and there's an awful lot that factors into the decision-making process to which the rest of us aren't privy. With the M's, it wasn't as simple as the team liking Olivo's numbers more than Zaun's. And it's never that simple, for anybody. Teams have a lot of reasons for doing the things they do, and while no organization deserves the complete benefit of the doubt, all of them deserve more than they get.