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Scrap Iron Suzuki: "I'm a suggestion box with strong suggestions"

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#1 jokin

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 10:27 PM

[QUOTE]Posted Image[/QUOTE]






Tom Powers with a great story about Twins catcher, Kurt Suzuki, who is turning out to be almost as good a FA signing as Phil Hughes. And as Powers tells it, perhaps he is the key behind the Twins pitching resurgence since May 1 http://www.twincitie...twins-pitching:

[QUOTE][FONT=Georgia] [Suzuki's hitting this season has been exceptional]...but his main function, his primary purpose, as he sees it, is running the game from behind the plate.

[/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia]And if there's one thing that Twins pitchers have learned this season it's that you don't shake off Kurt Suzuki.[/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia]
"When they do, he gets really irritated and lets them hear about it in the dugout," manager Ron Gardenhire said." And then we hear about it. We have a little fun with that. He has a good plan going into it. He leads the meetings and we talk over the lineup with each pitcher. He knows what we're supposed to do.''[/FONT]
[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE][FONT=Georgia]I don't even worry about hitting." Suzuki said. "Maybe that's a good thing, right? When we put up zeroes, I feel better at the plate for some reason. We put up zeroes and I feel more confident and I just feel better about myself."

[/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia]Starter Phil Hughes didn't have much in the series finale. Suzuki knew it early. [/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia]"Well, that's the fun part of the job," Suzuki said. "They have to bear down and try to mix things up. You pick your spots for certain type pitches."[/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia]He helped get Hughes through five innings and earn a victory.[/FONT]
[FONT=Georgia]
"Since day one in spring training, he's been eager to catch bullpens and to learn what we like to do and get to know the staff," Hughes said. "His scouting reports are meticulous and he reads swings with the best of them and knows exactly what guys are sitting on and looking for."[/FONT]

[FONT=Georgia]
And Hughes rarely shakes off a sign. He knows better. [/FONT]
[/QUOTE]

Besides his game-calling, pitch-blocking skills and leadership- reasons enough for me to support the Twins bringing him in this year- because of how he's been mostly used over the past few years, I was unaware of Zuke's Iron Man nature -and how critical it is to know you've got a guy at the toughest everyday position that fully embraces the concept of playing everyday, no matter what. If anyone watched all four games in the White Sox series, you gained full witness to the fact that the pounding that Suzuki took behind the plate was not for the faint of heart. What Powers relays in the box quote below were just two of the "highlights" of the wince-worthy-wounds that Suzuki endured this weekend:

[QUOTE] "Let's go!"

[That was Kurt's reaction shortly after he] [FONT=Georgia]caught the backlash of an Alexei Ramirez swing right on the elbow Sunday and doubled over in pain. After a few seconds, he stood up, flexed his arm once or twice, walked around for a few seconds and then went back and squatted behind the plate.[/FONT][FONT=Georgia]

The day before, an inside pitch ricocheted off of batter Gordon Beckham and nailed Suzuki in the collarbone. He tentatively checked to make sure nothing had chipped off. Then he rubbed it -- hard -- spat in the dirt and announced he was ready to resume play.[/FONT]

[FONT=Georgia]
"Ahh, it's part of the job," he said after Sunday's 6-5 victory over Chicago. "It's a rough part of the gig, but it is what it is and you just have to keep going. I'm fine. A few little dings here and there. They go away."[/FONT]

[/QUOTE][FONT=Georgia]
[/FONT]

Evidently, the concept of "day games off after night games" is one that Scrap Iron is either unfamiliar with, or hardily disdains.

Perhaps Suzuki has only temporarily found the fountain of youth. But it's interesting to note, he had his best years at the plate in 2008 and 2009 when he was playing full-time and 147-148 games. With the demotion of Josmil Pinto, Suzuki has lately been on pace to catch close to 130 games. Powers ends his column with an endorsement of extending Suzuki for a year or two, and I'm inclined to agree, even if he only (more than likely) hits at his career averages. And even if he can't throw out many base stealers. After reading this article, it sounds like Twins pitchers would also endorse this move in retaining the human suggestion box.

Edited by jokin, 23 June 2014 - 08:54 AM.


#2 h2oface

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 10:47 PM

Suzuki has been amazing. With his leadership skills I just read about, the Twins should offer a generous extension and keep him in the mix even if his present resurgence digresses to his career, and even if it goes beyond that in a couple years. He is a real pro, and a coach/manager in the making. A young pitching staff needs this. Even if Pinto or the newer propects playing in the lower levels of the organization even arrive, he would be invaluable.

#3 whosafraidofluigirussolo

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 10:57 PM

Besides his game-calling, pitch-blocking skills and leadership- reasons enough for me to support the Twins bringing him in this year- because of how he's been mostly used over the past few years, I was unaware of Zuke's Iron Man nature -and how critical it is to know you've got a guy at the toughest everyday position that fully embraces the concept of playing everyday, no matter what.


If I remember right, part of the line on Suzuki was that overuse at the catcher position was a likely reason that his performance declined after a strong few years earlier in his career.

I'm fine with re-signing him if he stays productive, and I think re-signing him after he makes good on a one-year deal fits the Twins' tendencies, but let's be ready for some decline in his health and/or hitting if he stays a full-time starter. I'd rather see Pinto earn back some organization trust as a catcher and Suzuki slide into a part-time role.

#4 jokin

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 11:51 PM

If I remember right, part of the line on Suzuki was that overuse at the catcher position was a likely reason that his performance declined after a strong few years earlier in his career.

I'm fine with re-signing him if he stays productive, and I think re-signing him after he makes good on a one-year deal fits the Twins' tendencies, but let's be ready for some decline in his health and/or hitting if he stays a full-time starter. I'd rather see Pinto earn back some organization trust as a catcher and Suzuki slide into a part-time role.


Yup. It sure seems like Pinto should greatly benefit from having Suzuki there as a mentor. I think this Fangraphs study can alleviate some of the decline concerns for catchers, especially someone as tough and resilient as Suzuki appears to be:

Posted Image


If you see the blue line for catcher decline phase, surprisingly, catchers actually age better than the average position player after age 32.

While I hold no illusions that Suzuki will ever have another year like this at the plate, the rest of his skill set would seem to fit nicely into a transitional role evolving from full-time to part-time catcher over the length of the contract.

It also puts the Twins into a terrific position should/when they decide to become sellers. In the short-term, they should be able to get something very good back in return for Suzuki from catcher-short/prospect-rich teams like the Orioles and Nats. And in the longer-term, the Twins can entertain the notion of offering Suzuki another contract in the offseason.

#5 The Wise One

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 02:54 AM

Yup. It sure seems like Pinto should greatly benefit from having Suzuki there as a mentor. I think this Fangraphs study can alleviate some of the decline concerns for catchers, especially someone as tough and resilient as Suzuki appears to be:



If you see the blue line for catcher decline phase, surprisingly, catchers actually age better than the average position player after age 32.

While I hold no illusions that Suzuki will ever have another year like this at the plate, the rest of his skill set would seem to fit nicely into a transitional role evolving from full-time to part-time catcher over the length of the contract.

It also puts the Twins into a terrific position should/when they decide to become sellers. In the short-term, they should be able to get something very good back in return for Suzuki from catcher-short/prospect-rich teams like the Orioles and Nats. And in the longer-term, the Twins can entertain the notion of offering Suzuki another contract in the offseason.


The curve averages runs for all players and all catchers. So you can say on average X happens. The range of any age group's rise or drop in runs can be significant . For a particular player it may rise For example someone like Carlos Beltran in 2011 over 2010, .2009 was better than 2008 or 2007. So on average yes your player will decline as they get older. By how much remains to be seen. A general aging curve really tells you very little about how your player will perform.
The study stated that they adjusted for injury. How? Look at Willingham wRC+ for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Obviously the knee injury was important. By an aging curve the Twins should have stayed far away from Willinham. Yet at age 33 and so far at age 35 he is having offensive career years. Aging curve be damned.
Since the study only looked at runs, imagine what leaving a hitter friendly park does to your aging numbers. A couple batters might have aged 10 years moving to TF from the dome.

#6 Kirby_Waved_At_Me

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 06:37 AM

I think one possible explanation could be that catchers that are still catching in the major leagues by age 32 and up have found a way to stay in the league and stay durable. Meaning, a lot of guys that were catching in their 20's are either playing a different position now (like V-Mart, Napoli, Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer) or are out of the league because they couldn't hit or their skills declined rapidly behind the plate.
Figuring out how to manage the wear and tear of the position is why you get guys that seemingly last forever like Lance Parrish, Brad Ausmus, Benito Santiago, and the rare example of a guy like Carlton Fisk who was still playing at an elite level in his 40s.
If you can make it to your early to mid 30s and survive as a catcher, you've probably learned something about pain management and how to maintain your place in an MLB lineup. It's not that hanging around that long makes you bullet-proof, it just means that a player has been better than most of the guys that play that position.

#7 nicksaviking

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 07:27 AM

I think the graph show's better aging by catchers simply because it's not expected to be a great offensive position. 27-year-old Jose Molina is already a pretty poor hitter, there's not much room for decline for 37-year-old Jose Molina. Or Miguel Olivo, Gerald Laird, Drew Butera, Fancisco Cervelli, John Buck, Dioner Navarro etc.

It's just a position where low offensive output is accepted, and the lower the peak output, the lower the amount of statistical decline later.

Teams just don't tolerate this lack of production from other positions except for shortstop to a degre.

#8 drivlikejehu

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 07:57 AM

I hope they sell high. He's not going to keep hitting like this and his actual catching isn't very good.

#9 JB_Iowa

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:29 AM

Well the article and Suzuki got a bit of a shout out from Buster Olney:



#10 gunnarthor

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:37 AM

This was like the anti-Mauer column without actually naming Mauer.

#11 jokin

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 12:55 PM

[quote name='drivlikejehu']I hope they sell high. He's not going to keep hitting like this and his actual catching isn't very good.[/QUOTE]

[quote name='JB_Iowa']Well the article and Suzuki got a bit of a shout out from Buster Olney:


[/QUOTE]
I don't think anyone is expecting Suzuki to keep hitting like this. By the same token, Suzuki, besides being a very good athlete, but despite his physical shortcomings behind the plate, has been especially valuable over his career for the aspects of catching that are difficult to quantify. Take a gander at this article from Zuke's time in Oakland, some two years ago, it rings true with what Powers has written, and obviously, Buster is sold, too:

[QUOTE][FONT=Arial]A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki had reporters surrounding him after Monday’s 1-0 victory over Seattle. It wasn’t to talk about him vying for playing time with Derek Norris. It wasn’t to pepper him with questions about what his future might be with the team. The scribes wanted to talk about A’s lefty Tommy Milone, and how the rookie pitcher worked with Suzuki to pull off the A’s eighth shutout of the season. That is what Suzuki does best, after all — study the opponent, know how to attack hitters and call a smart game for his young pitchers.
[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]
“Zuk did a great job with (Milone) reading swings,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “(They pitched) away when they were looking in, and in when they were looking away.” Added [Tommy] Milone: “There’s not many times where I shake off Suzuki".[/FONT]
[/QUOTE]

http://www.ibabuzz.c...young-pitchers/

#12 iTwins

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 01:30 PM

I was already impressed with Suzuki's showing this season both managing the pitching staff and at the plate. However, after watching him take a beating behind the plate this weekend (and shake it all off) I'm simply in awe.

I know catchers are tough, but some of the hits Suzuki took were brutal. Each one he grimmaced, then shook it off and kept playing. That's one tough hombre.

#13 Boom Boom

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 02:07 PM

This was like the anti-Mauer column without actually naming Mauer.


I'm finding it kind of weird that, now that Mauer isn't the catcher, Gardy has no problem letting his #1 catcher catch a day game after a night game.

I wonder if either Mauer was asking for more rest from catching, or if the Twins FO was pressuring Gardy to take it easy on Mauer because they had so much money invested in him.

#14 jokin

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 02:11 PM

I was already impressed with Suzuki's showing this season both managing the pitching staff and at the plate. However, after watching him take a beating behind the plate this weekend (and shake it all off) I'm simply in awe.

I know catchers are tough, but some of the hits Suzuki took were brutal. Each one he grimmaced, then shook it off and kept playing. That's one tough hombre.


I think that's the wrinkle that is mind-blowing, he defies the elements of the grinder-looking Catcher stereotype. Off the field he comes off as a pretty unassuming dude, turns out he's a Hawaiian Clark Kent. At least three times this weekend after witnessing the pounding he was receiving, I was convinced he would have to be removed from the game, turns out he's also a Hawaiian Superman.

Posted Image
[FONT=Gotham Narrow SSm][FONT=Verdana]][/FONT][/FONT]


#15 gunnarthor

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 02:41 PM

I'm finding it kind of weird that, now that Mauer isn't the catcher, Gardy has no problem letting his #1 catcher catch a day game after a night game.

I wonder if either Mauer was asking for more rest from catching, or if the Twins FO was pressuring Gardy to take it easy on Mauer because they had so much money invested in him.


I always assumed it was Mauer but I don't actually know. I think I read somewhere that suggested Mauer had his agent call the Twins in ST and complain about being used too much. But I could easily be wrong on that.

#16 TheLeviathan

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 04:44 PM

This was like the anti-Mauer column without actually naming Mauer.


That's exactly how I read it too.

#17 Thrylos

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 07:07 PM

It sure seems like Pinto should greatly benefit from having Suzuki there as a mentor.


The Twins sure do not think so apparently, since they optioned him.

Here is the thing:

a. One cannot learn how to call a game from show and tell or via osmosis. Got to do it.
b. Suzuki's metrics on framing and eyeball stats on throwing to CF instead of second base mirror Pinto's
c. Pinto has had issues with catching Deduno's junk. Suzuki has been protected from that. Based on what I have seen, he would have the same issues.
d. Suzuki is hitting like there is no tomorrow at a BABIP rate about 100 points higher than his career high normal.
e. Pinto hit at a BABIP rate at about 100 points lower than signs point where he should be (and still had a better OPS and OPS+ than Mauer - just for comparison's sake; not a negative comment towards Mauer)

I would not mind if the Twins re-sing Suzuki for a year or two as a backup, BUT if and only if they finally get rid of the manager, because he will play him as a starter...
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#18 howeda7

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 07:50 PM

I hope they sell high. He's not going to keep hitting like this and his actual catching isn't very good.


As with most of the 'trade him now' guys what are you going to get? In most cases, a AAAA pitcher who's not better than the 5 we already have in Rochester or a similar hitter. If you are getting someone who's no better than what you can go sign as a ML free-agent in December is it worth doing? No, IMO. If someone's willing to over-pay and we're out of it, then sure, trade him.

#19 jokin

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:08 PM

The Twins sure do not think so apparently, since they optioned him.

Here is the thing:

a. One cannot learn how to call a game from show and tell or via osmosis. Got to do it.
b. Suzuki's metrics on framing and eyeball stats on throwing to CF instead of second base mirror Pinto's
c. Pinto has had issues with catching Deduno's junk. Suzuki has been protected from that. Based on what I have seen, he would have the same issues.
d. Suzuki is hitting like there is no tomorrow at a BABIP rate about 100 points higher than his career high normal.
e. Pinto hit at a BABIP rate at about 100 points lower than signs point where he should be (and still had a better OPS and OPS+ than Mauer - just for comparison's sake; not a negative comment towards Mauer)

I would not mind if the Twins re-sing Suzuki for a year or two as a backup, BUT if and only if they finally get rid of the manager, because he will play him as a starter...


I generally concur with your summary. Couple fine points:

-Is there anyone that disputes that Suzuki's hitting prowess is unsustainable?
-Is there anyone that disputes that Suzuki's arm is pretty weak?
-Suzuki is one of the best at making like a hockey goalie and demonstrating his mastery of rebound control.
-I generally strongly disagree about how one learns to call a game. Pinto presumably was at every pre-game pitcher/catcher meeting and learns from Suzuki on how to prepare a game plan. Further, I would presume that the Twins coaching staff, when Pinto is on the roster, go over how Suzuki calls a game, pitch-by-pitch, with the expectation for Pinto to implement it himself from these daily lessons. Gardy, of course, saw fit to basically hand over the catching duties to Suzuki, as the Twins again, are at cross-purposes in 2014- ie, developing or winning at all cost.

Edited by jokin, 23 June 2014 - 10:32 PM.


#20 Sconnie

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:23 PM

As with most of the 'trade him now' guys what are you going to get? In most cases, a AAAA pitcher who's not better than the 5 we already have in Rochester or a similar hitter. If you are getting someone who's no better than what you can go sign as a ML free-agent in December is it worth doing? No, IMO. If someone's willing to over-pay and we're out of it, then sure, trade him.

in 4-5 weeks Zuke's trade value should increase substantially, provided he stays healthy. I'd listen to any trade offer that improves the team over the next 2-3 years

#21 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:41 PM

in 4-5 weeks Zuke's trade value should increase substantially, provided he stays healthy. I'd listen to any trade offer that improves the team over the next 2-3 years


I'd argue that signing Suzuki to a two year extension would improve the team significantly more over the next 2-3 years then anyone they would get back in a trade.
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#22 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 08:46 PM

In re: to Suzuki's bat, I get that he is getting lucky, but he is making some real nice contact, while I don't think a 124 OPS+ is exactly sustainable for him, I do believe he has turned some sort of corner at the plate though and found his stroke (or maybe even better) then he had early in his career, his 15 doubles so far already equals his 2013 mark, and is going to smash his 20 in 2012. Before then he was a guy who would give you close to a mid 90's OPS+ which is actually just fine for a starting catcher.

Yeah, yeah I get that BABIP is luck driven for him at times, but as the old saying should go: Doubles never lie.
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#23 jokin

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 12:40 AM

In re: to Suzuki's bat, I get that he is getting lucky, but he is making some real nice contact, while I don't think a 124 OPS+ is exactly sustainable for him, I do believe he has turned some sort of corner at the plate though and found his stroke (or maybe even better) then he had early in his career, his 15 doubles so far already equals his 2013 mark, and is going to smash his 20 in 2012. Before then he was a guy who would give you close to a mid 90's OPS+ which is actually just fine for a starting catcher.

Yeah, yeah I get that BABIP is luck driven for him at times, but as the old saying should go: Doubles never lie.


Some were questioning if Suzuki was through playing full-time after 2013. He had tapped himself out at his 6th year arb-contract high- $6.45M. It turns out Billy Beane knew what he was doing in letting Zuke get away:

[FONT=Verdana]The A's might be the first team in history to productively carry three catchers: Derek Norris (.914 OPS), Stephen Vogt (.883) and John Jaso (.817) are mashing, and manager Bob Melvin has frequently started all three in the same lineup (with Jaso at DH and Vogt in the outfield). -- [/FONT]Jason Wojciechowski


Obviously, the A's are defying the odds and are getting great years from all three catchers, after acquiring Jaso in a 3-way deal in January. Together, the 3-headed catcher alignment makes only $3.3M combined. Classic Billy Beane moneyball.

But that doesn't mean that Terry Ryan got fleeced. Ryan got Suzuki on a bargain-basement price, and the gamble clearly has paid off for both parties, Suzuki won too, by betting that he could clearly beat out Pinto for the full-time gig- thus enhancing his chances for another decent contract after 2014. I gotta think there's still a chance to deal Suzuki for a decent young prospect (think a High-A version or better of Butera for Sulbaran) by the deadline, and then they still can take a good shot at re-signing him in the offseason. The guy has got "leader" and "future coach or manager" written all over him.

#24 old nurse

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 03:45 AM

Many posys out there about the genius of Billy Beane. He employs 3 catchers. Gardy has 3 and he is an idiot.

Ryan will trafe anyone on this team if the return is good. He traded Aggie then resigned him.

#25 snepp

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 10:56 PM

Many posys out there about the genius of Billy Beane. He employs 3 catchers. Gardy has 3 and he is an idiot.


Minus, you know, the parts about the catchers actually being good, and actually playing at the same time. Other than that, a perfectly viable comparison.

#26 old nurse

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 03:06 AM

Minus, you know, the parts about the catchers actually being good, and actually playing at the same time. Other than that, a perfectly viable comparison.


The grief on these pages has been about Gardenhire wanting three catchers, not the quality of players that happened to play catcher. Sorry you missed the posts complaining about that. There is a little bit of a difference there.

Voight has been used 17 of 72 games so far this season.55 PA This far into the season credit goes to the manager for putting him in situations where he can play well and not expose what he doesn't do well and thus have people think he is really good. Also have people think he plays alot. On the other hand there were complaints that with Gardenhire having a couple players not in games that he was playing with a short bench. Getting into 1 in 5 games is not extensive use.

#27 GCTF

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 06:34 AM

The grief on these pages has been about Gardenhire wanting three catchers, not the quality of players that happened to play catcher. Sorry you missed the posts complaining about that. There is a little bit of a difference there.

Voight has been used 17 of 72 games so far this season.55 PA This far into the season credit goes to the manager for putting him in situations where he can play well and not expose what he doesn't do well and thus have people think he is really good. Also have people think he plays alot. On the other hand there were complaints that with Gardenhire having a couple players not in games that he was playing with a short bench. Getting into 1 in 5 games is not extensive use.


You must have missed the part where Vogt was only called up on June 1st and has been in all but three games since then. Having 3 catchers that are OPSing over .800 is not the same as employing the likes of Butera and Herrmann.
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#28 TheLeviathan

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 06:53 AM

The grief on these pages has been about Gardenhire wanting three catchers, not the quality of players that happened to play catcher. Sorry you missed the posts complaining about that. There is a little bit of a difference there.

Voight has been used 17 of 72 games so far this season.55 PA This far into the season credit goes to the manager for putting him in situations where he can play well and not expose what he doesn't do well and thus have people think he is really good. Also have people think he plays alot. On the other hand there were complaints that with Gardenhire having a couple players not in games that he was playing with a short bench. Getting into 1 in 5 games is not extensive use.


Boy if I was going to go on a "defend Gardy about three catchers" campaign I'd at least try to have my facts straight first. Yeesh.

#29 spycake

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 07:01 AM

The grief on these pages has been about Gardenhire wanting three catchers, not the quality of players that happened to play catcher. Sorry you missed the posts complaining about that. There is a little bit of a difference there.


Not to pile on after GCTF but...

Just because forum posts don't give full context for every comment does NOT mean the context doesn't exist. I would be surprised if anyone would object to the Twins rostering three catchers who can both hit and get regular playing time (or even two catchers who meet that criteria, plus a third for strictly backup C duty, like the late 2009 Twins with Mauer, Jose Morales, and Mike Redmond).

Voight has been used 17 of 72 games so far this season.55 PA This far into the season credit goes to the manager for putting him in situations where he can play well and not expose what he doesn't do well and thus have people think he is really good. Also have people think he plays alot. On the other hand there were complaints that with Gardenhire having a couple players not in games that he was playing with a short bench. Getting into 1 in 5 games is not extensive use.


I will echo the sentiment about checking basic facts before posting. Vogt was only recalled on June 1st. Since then, all three catchers have been playing regularly, to the tune of 370-480 PA full season paces. During that time, Vogt has been their primary RF and Jaso their primary DH.

#30 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 07:46 AM

I'm finding it kind of weird that, now that Mauer isn't the catcher, Gardy has no problem letting his #1 catcher catch a day game after a night game.

I wonder if either Mauer was asking for more rest from catching, or if the Twins FO was pressuring Gardy to take it easy on Mauer because they had so much money invested in him.

Interesting observation.