As we continue to look at the a few of the potential battles for a place on the Oakland Athletics playoff roster, we turn from the starting rotation to their potential battery mates at the catcher position. A month ago it looked like we might be looking at Stephen Vogt and who knows who else handling catching duties, now there is a bit of a logjam with Vogt, Derek Norris, and Kurt Suzuki all splitting time behind the dish.
When John Jaso suffered a concussion back in July, Vogt took over his side of the platoon with Derek Norris against right handed starters and he’s done a more than admirable job in Jaso’s absence. Derek Norris then broke his big toe in August, prompting Billy Beane to go out and bring back former Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki. Norris, having returned from the injury has seemingly established himself at the MLB level, and has provided a nice offensive spark against left handers recently. Then there’s Suzuki, brought back to Oakland after a year long vacation with the Washington Nationals. Kurt didn’t become the offensive catcher many thought he would be, but he’s provided some stability at the position.
The chances that the A’s keep three catchers on the playoff roster are slim and none, so someone is going to be the odd man out.
The likeliest choice to be left off the playoff roster would have to be Kurt Suzuki. It’s going to be a tough choice to make, but it’s one that will have to be done. Derek Norris’ .318/.406/.561 slash line in 170 plate appearances againts lefties speaks for itself, his bat will come into play at some point during this postseason. Neither Vogt or Suzuki have spectacular numbers versus right handers, but one would think Vogt would get the nod because of his work filling in for Jaso the last few months.
It’s a tough situation for the A’s, and Kurt Suzuki, but he had to know that this situation could come up at some point when he was traded back to the A’s. While I do think he’ll be left off the roster, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Vogt was the odd man out because of Kurt’s defensive prowess behind the dish. When the likes of Grant Balfour and Ryan Cook are burying sliders in the dirt, his ability to block those pitches would be critical. In Kurt’s absence, both Norris and Vogt will have to step up their game defensively or else it will cost the A’s dearly.