Episode 92: Reviewing the First Half

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"Peace to my All Star homies in West Fargo." - Cody Christie, probably

“Peace to my All Star homies in West Fargo.” – Cody Christie, probably

This week we talk all about the first half, the Twins best players and worst players before the All Star break, and what we think might happen in the second half. Jay Corn rags on Joe Mauer, Cody Christie praises Brian Dozier, and Eric Pleiss raves about his boyfriend Phil Hughes.

Join us for the Twins talk, stay for the beers and baseball chatter.

 

I hope you enjoy this special episode.You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!
If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review our show on iTunes.  iTunes ratings and reviews is how to government funds unemployment.

What to do with Kurt Suzuki?

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.”

Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt  Suzuki (8) hits a two-run single against the Chicago White Sox in the third inning of an opening day baseball game at U.S Cellular Field in Chicago on March 31, 2014. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki (8) hits a two-run single against the Chicago White Sox in the third inning of an opening day baseball game at U.S Cellular Field in Chicago on March 31, 2014. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

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?

GameChat – Red Sox @ Twins #3, 12:10pm

Ok, my apologies for the late post – somehow I’ve managed to get sick.. ain’t that fun?

But the Twins are doing pretty well in rubber matches this season so lets see if that translates to beating the BoSox today!

Boston @ Minnesota
Pedroia, 2B Dozier, 2B
Bogaerts, SS Mauer, DH
Ortiz, D, DH Plouffe, 3B
Napoli, 1B Colabello, 1B
Gomes, J, RF Kubel, LF
Carp, LF Suzuki, K, C
Ross, D, C Parmelee, RF
Middlebrooks, 3B Hicks, CF
Bradley Jr., CF Escobar, E, SS
  Buchholz, P   Hughes, P, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 9
Minnesota 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 12

Well now that was fun! Despite Perk going through a bit of a closer slump right now, we managed to get that rubber match win again! Frankly, this is the first time we have won a home series against the BoSox since Target Field’s first season … ouch. They’ve clearly had our number here for most of it. Glad that we were able to make it happen today. Phil Hughes’ experience against them might have had a LOT to do with that. I am pretty happy with his performance against them today – wish he could have gone longer but not if it meant he’d have given them crooked numbers in the box score.  Of course, they managed to get that tie anyway to give us an extra inning.

Looking at the box score, it’s clear to see that Kurt Suzuki continues to really shine in this lineup and I love how he seems to not only hit well, but to hit CLUTCH! He always shows up when absolutely necessary. And Hicks hardly needs additional recognition because the confidence booster he received from getting that walk-off winner and the support from his team mates does a lot for this young man. Let’s hope that he can pull it together and build on it to return to the big hitter we want to see him be. They are both our BOD’s today!

suzukiAaronHicks

GameChat – Orioles @ Twins #3, 1:10pm

StarWarsDay

Now that the requisite bit of geekdom is managed..

Let’s see what Phil Hughes can do to keep the Orioles on their toes and give the Twins offense a chance to come out on top in this rubber match!

Baltimore @ Minnesota
Markakis, RF Dozier, 2B
Machado, M, 3B Mauer, 1B
Cruz, N, LF Plouffe, DH
Jones, Ad, CF Colabello, RF
Wieters, C Kubel, LF
Hardy, SS Suzuki, K, C
Young, D, DH Fuld, CF
Pearce, 1B Escobar, E, 3B
Schoop, 2B Florimon, SS
  Gonzalez, M, P   Hughes, P, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Baltimore 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 8 0
Minnesota 0 0 2 0 1 0 2 0 x 5 10 1

You’ll have to forgive me if I fail to pass on any incredibly important detail since I spent most of the game switching back and forth between baseball and hockey… Sue me.

However, I actually did watch the majority of the baseball game and I liked what I saw! (except for that “not quite catch” from you Herrmann) After all, the Twins won another game, took another series, and are almost back to .500 ball. That’s good enough for 2nd in the division. I’ll take it.

Hughes did a good job keeping a hard-hitting team from hitting much too far out. Cruz is and always will be a problem but even he was leashed for MOST (not all) of his AB’s. And the dig at Herrmann aside, he was out in Right Field because Colabello got moved to 1B after Mauer had to leave the game with lower back spasms. Dozier also continued to play really good baseball and showed why we keep him up in the top of the order by stealing two bases.

But pretty much hands down for me today was the effort made by Kurt Suzuki. He got 3 hits in 3 AB’s, 2 of them were 2B’s, a BB and drove in 3 RBI. Yeah, that’ll do Zuke, that’ll do! Here’s your BOD!

suzuki

GameChat – Twins @ Rays #3, 12:10pm

I think the whole team as well as the fans are hoping for a good start from Nolasco – especially the bullpen.

The Twins have themselves in a nice position to win another series. I’d like that; how about you?

Minnesota @ Tampa Bay
Dozier, 2B Zobrist, 2B
Mauer, 1B Jennings, D, CF
Plouffe, 3B Joyce, LF
Colabello, RF Longoria, 3B
Pinto, DH Loney, 1B
Suzuki, K, C Myers, RF
Fuld, LF DeJesus, DH
Hicks, CF Escobar, Y, SS
Florimon, SS Molina, J, C
  Nolasco, P   Bedard, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 3 1 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 9 12 1
Tampa Bay 0 3 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 7 13 0

you know what? it’s fun to watch baseball when we are able to actually WIN the game! And the series is just bonus..  (Of course coming back to a homestand after some nice road series wins feels pretty good to.)

It was really tough to narrow down a BOD today because this team was doing it’s best to work as a team with a lot of effort up and down the order. It was good to see Sam Fuld have a very good day against his old team and for that, we are awarding him access to the pastry buffet. Mr. Fuld, the donuts are on us!

Today’s BOD came down to the veteran but new Twin, Kurt Suzuki, or the struggling young phenom, Aaron Hicks. I decided that trying to choose was too much work for a rainy afternoon so I went with BOTH! Congrats to Hicks for getting his first homerun of the season and I hope to see his bat continue to warm up. Our thanks to Zuke for holding down the fort with a great outing!

suzukiAaronHicks

Episode 78: The Phantom DL and Gardy’s 1000th Win

For the first time in a long time we have a full week of Twins baseball to talk about on the podcast. We talk about Ron Gardenhire‘s 1000th managerial win, a couple of disabled list moves that brought both Chris Herrmann and Darin Mastroianni back to the Twins, and pontificate on what early season attendance numbers mean for the club going forward. You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

Don't drink my beer!

Don’t drink my beer!

We’re running a promotional giveaway. Make sure to listen to the end for the details and your chance to win a 1991 World Series box set (#TwinsNickname).

We are joined by Jeremy Nygaard (@jeremynygaard) of Twins Daily’s Hang out and Talk Twins video/podcast (@TwinsHangouts) to discuss the roster moves, the Twins payroll in 2014 and what it means for the future of the franchise and if bringing in Stephen Drew is still a valid discussion point.
You’ll also hear the weekly standby’s hitter/pitcher of the week, and around the league. We had to put the Down on the Pond segment on hold this week, but next week we’ll be taking a closer look at Twins AAA pitcher, Logan Darnell.

Enjoy the show.

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are like t.p. for our bung holes.

Episode 77: A real live baseball player from the Major Leagues, Hot Dog!

The highlight of this week’s episode is an interview with Twins’ relief pitcher Casey Fien. We discuss the path his career took as he made his way from a 20th round draft pick to an Opening Day roster and what his strategy is when he’s out there on the mound. You can follow Casey on Twitter, @CaseyFien.
Look at this guy, so happy to be on the podcast!

Look at this guy, so happy to be on the podcast!

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.
Besides talking to notable relief pitchers, we also spend some time “Down on the Pond” looking at the Opening Day starters for each of the Twins full-season minor league affiliates, and a hitter from each squad as well as they prepare for Minor League Opening Day on Thursday, April 3.
To find out who took home the first regular season honors for Twins hitter and pitcher of the week you’ll have to give us a listen, and there were actually a surprising number of candidates who’ve gotten the lumber out early this season despite what we’ve been saying during Spring Training.
Oh, and the trees are coming back to Target Field. Heck yeah!

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, and you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews keep our beers cold.

Episode 65: Tom Kelly’s Zubaz versus Nelson Prada

Episode 65 is out for your listening enjoyment. Happy New Year from all of the gang at Talk to Contact. We debated titling the podcast after Twins Coach Nelson Prada who wore #65 a few years ago, but anytime Tom Kelly‘s zubaz come up on conversation you are required to title said conversation after those wonderful pants.  You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

tom-kelleyAfter a holiday hiatus the Talk to Contact podcast returns will all of the usual contributors. Up for discussion this week is Chris Colabello declining a trip to Korea, the make-up of the Twins opening day outfield, former Twins making comebacks and a rousing of debate of whether or not Kurt Suzuki will play a meaningful role for the Twins in 2014.

 We go down on the pond and take a look at the Twins 2013 4th round draft pick, Stephen Gonsalves (LHP), discuss whether a shandy should even be considered a beer and talk about moves from around the rest of the MLB, including possible landing spots for Masahiro Tanaka and the potential for the Houston Astros to contend in the AL West this coming season. All of that and more on this week’s podcast.

 Enjoy the podcast.

 

You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, and you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) and read his writing at PuckettsPond.com!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews have magical iTunes powers, that will help Liam Hendriks make the major league club in Baltimore and hopefully pitch against Danny Valencia and the Royals, beaning him in the middle of the back.