I was literally sitting down to the computer to write a piece about what the Athletics were to do with their dire catching situation befalling the team at this moment. Then I checked Twitter briefly and saw this tweet from Susan Slusser that the A’s were close to bringing back Kurt Suzuki. Yes, the same Kurt Suzuki who was shipped off to Washington about a year ago after six years of service with the Athletics.
Presumably Suzuki will take over Derek Norris‘ side of the catching platoon with Stephen Vogt, and will face left handed pitchers primarily. Suzuki though hasn’t hit lefties particularly well this season in Washington, posting a .222/.294/.267 slash line in 52 plate appearances. Overall he has posted a .223/.284/.311 line in 280 total plate appearances. So it is apparent that Suzuki hasn’t exactly solved all of his offensive issues that led him to be dealt in the first place. So why did the A’s make a move like this?
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Kurt Suzuki is a 100% known commodity to Billy Beane and the Athletics. With the broken toe that will likely sideline Derek Norris for an extended period of time, the A’s were in need of a catcher in the worst way. The in-house candidates were David Freitas, Ryan Ortiz, and would’ve included Luke Montz as well if he wasn’t dealing with a shoulder injury at the moment. They had already emptied the minor league cupboard in terms of catching help when Stephen Vogt came up to replace John Jaso. Throwing a fringe prospect into the thick of a pennant race doesn’t exactly seem like a good idea.
The Athletics likely kicked the tires on the likes of Carlos Ruiz of the Philadelphia Phillies, John Buck of the New York Mets, or Dioner Navarro of the Chicago Cubs, but the familiarity with Suzuki had to have made him most appealing to the Athletics.
While many will decry this move because of the offensive ineptitude he exhibited last season, I ultimately vote in favor of this move because it addressees an immediate need for the team. When in a situation like this, a move has to be made swiftly and decisively. I was reminded of the situation the Athletics dealt with in 2006 when Mark Ellis was injured and had to miss the playoffs. The Athletics, a team with World Series aspirations were starting D’Angelo Jimenez at second base. Jimenez was the ultimate journeyman retread player, and figured to contribute little to the A’s efforts to play deep into October. He did exactly that, tallying two singles in 12 plate appearances. That’s about the same contribution we would probably be able to expect from the likes of Freitas or Ortiz if they were put in that position.
Kurt Suzuki is far from a perfect player, but he has a lot of experience and knows most of the Athletics pitchers from his time in Oakland in 2012. The learning curve will be minimal, and that’s a good thing. One potential positive note is the fact that Suzuki did hit .267/.321/.467 in 164 plate appearances with the Nationals last year after being dealt. Perhaps another change of scenery, this time back to familiar territory, could jumpstart Suzuki once again for the stretch drive. It’s plainly obvious the A’s could use any help they can get.