The weather in Minnesota this weekend is EXACTLY why we say that summer begins on Memorial Day weekend. I means that anyone who CAN is spending this day outside somewhere.. I just hope that everyone remembers what tomorrow is about.. and maybe watch some baseball too.
Kurt Suzuki is out producing the expectations of even the most optimistic Twins fan. He’s 30 years old and coming in to 2014 had a career line of .253/.309/.375, and even that is rosy considering what he’s done the past two seasons, .234/.282/.332 (for reference, Talk to Contact favorite, Drew “Boat Anchor” Butera, is hitting .231/.300/.385 in 2014). So the Twins bought low on a guy and brought him in with the hopes that he could help out Josmil Pinto, and because Suzuki is seen as a good “clubhouse guy.”
Through his first 34 games of the year, Suzuki is hitting .332/.388/.430. He has an OBP north of .380 against both left and right handed pitchers. The Twins like what he’s doing with the bat so much they have stuck him in the lineup four times as the starting designated hitter.
Maybe just a hot start, right? He’s actually been better in May than he was in March and April. He started hot, and now he is getting hotter. Over his entire career, Suzuki has played better in the first month of the year than any other month, exactly what you might expect from a catcher that the Oakland Athletics ran out as their everyday catcher at least 117 times for five straight years (he caught his fewest games since his rookie season last year, 93).
Kurt Suzuki is doing all of this on a one-year, $2.75 million dollar contract. the Twins bought low and now they are in a great position to turn Suzuki into some surplus value via trade. Or, because he is only 30 years old, the Twins might consider signing him to a modest contract extension, just as they did with Ryan Doumit.*
*Ryan Doumit hit .275/.320/.461 in 2012 in his first year (age 31 season) with the Twins. The Twins extended him for two additional years with an extra $7 million dollars in late June 2012, making his total deal with the Twins three years/$10 million. With Doumit, the Twins were basically getting output from Doumit in line with his career numbers, so there was a little less risk, but in two of the three seasons prior to coming to Minnesota, Doumit either hit poorly or was injured (or both), so they were able to sign (what looks like now) such a team friendly deal. The Twins ultimately flipped Doumit to Atlanta** following a poor 2013 season which saw Doumit struggle at the plate and with concussion issues. He’s hitting .200/.217/.222 for the Braves.
**The Twins received LHP Sean Gilmartin in return for Doumit, a former first round draft pick (2011), who is currently performing well at AA New Britain (3-2, 3.63 ERA 39.2 IP, 12 BB, 37K) and if the Twins raid the AAA roster for pitching prospects Trevor May and Alex Meyer this summer, Gilmartin should be one of the logical selections to move up to AAA, where he pitched for parts of 2012 and 2013 in the Braves Org.
I would guess that the Twins do not expect Kurt Suzuki to continue avoiding outs in almost 40% of his plate appearances, but ZiPS projects the 30 year old catcher to produce as a MLB regular the rest of the way. Combined with with he’s already done in 2014, he’ll end up with a nice 2014 line. If Suzuki keeps up his current pace into the All-Star break, or even just keeps his line to something like .300/.350/.400, which would represent some fairly significant regression over the next month plus, there will be a handful of teams calling Terry Ryan/Rob Antony looking to acquire the veteran catcher for a post season run. Because the Twins have Josmil Pinto (even with his raw defensive skills), and because they are not in a win-now situation, the Twins could feel relatively comfortable flipping Suzuki.
In a trade scenario, the Twins would probably hope to fetch an intriguing Minor League player, as well as some MLB outfield depth, maybe a fourth outfielder capabale of playing center field and aleviating some of the Twins’ current outfield issues (especially if Sam Fuld experiences setbacks returning from the concussion disabled list). Of course, what the Twins ultimately receive for Suzuki will depend on who their trading partner is, and where the Twins think they can add the most value.
If the Twins look to extend Suzuki, I think that something similar to the Ryan Doumit deal is realistic, but with a slightly higher annual value. I would not be surprised if he received two additional years for $10 million dollars, bringing his total package in Minnesota to three years and just under $13 million. He’s younger than Doumit, and he is a much more complete player, providing value on both sides of the ball.
If I am the Twins, I would attempt to extend Suzuki. The extension would not keep the Twins from trading Suzuki in a year or two, and if Josmil Pinto cannot live up to the hype from his 2013 call up when he hit .342/.398/.566, then the Twins have some hope of a bridge to the arrival of their next young catcher (who might be 2013 third-rounder Stuart Turner). If the Twins can make the extension team friendly then there is not a lot of risk in a deal like that, but if Suzuki and his agent (MVP Sports Group) are looking for a larger deal coming off of a big 2014, then the Twins should feel comfortable walking away.
What would you do?
Soo…. yeah, I never expected a Knuckleballer to make national baseball news but I REALLY never expected it to be such an odd situation much less involve several other friends and colleagues.
Reported this afternoon by Craig Calcaterra:
When we woke up yesterday morning we lived in a world where any baseball fans who so loved their team that it inspired them to tell everyone about that love could do so in the form of a podcast on iTunes. When we woke up this morning multiple baseball podcasts had been removed from iTunes, at the request of Major League Baseball and/or Major League Baseball Advanced Media on intellectual property grounds.
Multiple podcasts, including Twins podcast “Gleeman and the Geek” (hosted by HardballTalk’s own Aaron Gleeman), another Twins podcast “Talk to Contact,” Pirates podcast “Pirates Prospects,” Mets podcast “Mets Musings,” Cubs podcast “Bleacher Nation,” Yankees podcast “It’s About the Yankees, Stupid,” Rangers Podcast “Rangers Podcast in Arlington” and several others were removed from iTunes…
See the rest of the report at Hardball Talk.
MLB asks iTunes to Remove Baseball Podcasts, iTunes Complies (Updated)
UPDATE: If you’re curious about how to continue to listen, David Temple at FanGraphs has the scoop – http://www.fangraphs.com/not/advice-listening-to-baseball-podcasts-after-562014/
Major League Baseball, we’ve been told, has decided that there are too many people talking about baseball on the internet and sent a request to iTunes to have many baseball related podcasts removed. We’re one of the many podcasts affected. So far, based on what he’s been able to find so far, John Bonnes has found that in addition to Twins podcasts, the Cubs, Orioles and Mets.
While this seems like a minor issue, MLB might just be getting started. Obviously if they make the move to remove all team specific podcasts from iTunes there will be additional pressure on them to reverse course, but they might just start asking the big name hosting sites to remove team specific blogs as well.
Get in contact with Major League Baseball and let them know how you feel. We’ll be doing the same.
For now, you can continue to find our podacst right here at TalkToContact.com, and we’ll be available on Stitcher Radio. For our Android users, there should not be any change right now. But maybe MLB will go after us there as well.
Stay tuned, and there is more to come on Episode 82 about how we plan to handle this going forward.
For all of you readers who AREN’T in the Twins TV viewing area, there are some great commercials again this year!
(if I could find the radio ones, you would REALLY have some entertainment!)
this is funny! and no, the boys doing PFP didn’t spend a bunch of time learning a new skill (which is good because I think we ALL agree, they should be concentrating on their day job) as they are obviously playing the role of “stunt double”.
Almost a week ago, with the Twins in the middle of being swept by the Oakland Athletics, I wrote (over at BaseballTwins.com) that the Twins had no chance of being above .500 for the entire season, and then went so far as to loudly proclaim the same stance on the most recent Talk to Contact podcast. After a weekend of hot baseball, from the offense and pitching staff, the Twins are now back to .500, at 6-6, and with an off day today to prep for a three game series at home with the Blue Jays, I find myself on the verge of eating crow.
How did this happen?
The Twins pitching turned in their three best performances of the year, the Twins’ bats woke up in a big way, and some timely defensive miscues allowed the Twins to steal a victory on Sunday.
On Friday night, Kyle Gibson put in another strong start, going 6.1 innings and giving up just one run. Like his first start of the year, Gibson once again walked four batters, and recorded just three strike outs, so it wasn’t a perfect start, but he got the outs he needed and avoided any real damage (and the run he gave up in the first inning was directly related to Pedro Florimon booting a tailor-made double-play ball).
Not to be outdone, on Saturday afternoon, Ricky Nolasco pitched eight strong innings of one run ball, controlling the ball well, recording four strike outs and surrendering only a single walk.
While Nolasco and Gibson put up strong performances, the Twins hitters did their jobs too, scoring 17 runs in those first two games, with a balanced lineup that saw key hits from Dozier, Suzuki, Pinto, Mauer, Kubel, Colabello and Plouffe. Everyone was hitting except Florimon and Mastroianni, who managed to be 0-8 (but did chip in two walks) while the rest of the team recorded a .346 on base percentage.
On Sunday, Kevin Correia worked seven scoreless innings, but let the first three batters of the inning reach base, and Brian Duensing came in with two one and one in already. He couldn’t stop the bleeding and the Twins were down 3-2 going into the home half of the eighth. IN the bottom of the inning the Twins loaded the bases and Chris Herrmann grounded to the pitcher Wade Davis who tried to start a home-to-first double play, but instead threw the ball away allowing two runs to score.
While the Twins might creep over .500 before this home stand ends, I still think that the Twins next four series after that, against the Royals, Rays, Tigers and Dodgers will put the Twins firmly below .500 without much chance of a return.
For now though, the Twins are interesting, and I look forward to eating crow.