The time has come. The A’s and Kurt Suzuki need to finally part ways with each other. Oakland’s catcher hasn’t produced much this year and he’s had plenty of time to step up and produce offensively.
This season, Suzuki, 28, is hitting just .216/.256/.268 with no home runs and 16 RBIs in 61 games. Even more unimpressive is Suzuki’s BB%, which has dropped from 7.4% last year to 4.0% this year. He’s also striking out at a higher rate, as suggested by his 19.3% K% rate, which is an increased rate over his 12.4% last year.
The A’s haven’t really gotten much out of Suzuki this year and with prospect Derek Norris making his way up to the big leagues, Suzuki’s time in Oakland seems to be nearing its end. Much like Jason Kendall before him, Suzuki may well be the odd man out.
Since performing so well in 2009, when he drove in a team-high 88 runs and hit 15 HRs, Suzuki has fallen off the rails a bit. He followed up his big ’09 season with a decent 2010 outing with 13 HR and 77 RBI, but it was still drenched in disappointment. He followed that season with another down year last season, hitting just .237/.301/.385 with 14 HR and 54 RBI.
He hasn’t shown any signs of improvement this year, either. The A’s backstop has produced an ISO of .053 (down from last year’s .148) and has seen a huge drop off in the power department. For the offensively challenged Athletics, a powerless Suzuki is a Suzuki worth trading. The A’s have Derek Norris, who figures to help give Suzuki a break behind the plate from time to time, as a potential successor to Suzuki.
In 55 games with Triple-A Sacramento this year, Norris hit .273/.331/.474 with 8 HR and 36 RBI. He was regarded as a top-catching prospect in the Washington Nationals’ farm-system and has shown some promise since coming over to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez trade. He’ll get plenty of opportunities, especially if Suzuki continues to struggle, to prove himself to Oakland’s top brass.
Suzuki, meanwhile, could be a potential trade chip for Billy Beane and Co. According to several rumors, including this one, the A’s could explore the possibility of trading Suzuki. According to Peter Gammons of MLB Network, Suzuki could make sense for a team like the Marlins or even the Rays.
While the possibility of a Suzuki trade seems ever more likely, it is sad to see how far Suzuki has fallen off the rails. His defense behind the plate goes unquestioned and his handling of the pitching staff is excellent, but his contributions on offense have become increasingly frustrating. That’s why it’s time to say goodbye.