Yes Suzuki has a slashline (BA/OBP/SLG) of .290/.349/.382 all career highs, but when you look back over players who have this kind of year at his age more often then not they regress back to their career numbers for the seasons following this career season. His career slashline is just .257/.314/.376 with an OPS of just .690.
Pinto is a major league hitter who has been in the minors for most of this season. Pinto is much, much better offensively than Suzuki will ever be and he only has about 240 major league at bats. Pinto's career minor league slashline is .275/.353/.441 with an OPS of .794. His major league numbers thus far are .265/.349/.464 with an OPS of .813 which is well over 100 points higher than Suzuki. Suzuki also averages about 9 home runs a season over his career and is only at 3 thus far this season. Pinto already has 11 in 240 at bats. But Suzuki is so much better defensively. I'd say have you looked at the numbers?
Suzuki's career percentage of throwing out runners is just a mere 26%. Pinto's thus far at the major league level is 19% and his career percentage in the minors is 32%. Suzuki's career fielding percentage is .992 and Pinto's career minor league fielding percentage is .984 and thus far in the majors has a fielding percentage of .994. So I ask is Suzuki really that much better defensively that we're willing to sacrifice a potential power bat from our lineup?
But Suzuki calls a better game. I'd say a majority of the game now a days is called from the dugout or the pitcher. Catchers no longer really "call" games. Also, if you are into SABR type stats, if you look at pitch framing, something vital for catchers, Suzuki ranks really low among starting catchers.
Suzuki is going to cost the Twins at least 12 more million over the next 2 seasons, while Pinto would cost the Twins just over a million over the next 2 seasons. That's almost 11 million that could be spent elsewhere. That money is very critical for a mid market team. The fact that the Twins didn't flip Suzuki at the deadline is becoming a very bad trend. Even if you aren't getting the ideal prospects back, the really good teams that hit on this type of veteran signing consistently move these guys at their peaks and build depth in their system. Ala Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, etc. Veterans signed in the offseason who could have been moved at their peak especially in down seasons is how you build a good farm system. Terry Ryan was so great at this in the 90s and early 2000s and for some reason has forgotten how to do this.
While I think the Twins shouldn't have extended Suzuki, there is a way to keep him and make sure Pinto is in the everyday lineup, but no way will the Twins actually do this. If you move Mauer from first base to left field, allowing Vargas to be your everyday first baseman, opening up the designated hitter spot for Pinto everyday when he is not catching. If Willingham can play left field in Target Field there is no way one of the best athletes this state has produced can't play left field. It would allow you to have the following lineup at some point next season:
That lineup looks very promising when it comes to scoring runs. If you have Pinto catch and throw Rosario either in LF or DH him, that lineup looks even better.
Pinto may not throw out a ton of runners throughout his career, but neither has Suzuki. Baseball is also not using the stolen base as often as they use to and if you coach your pitchers to have better pick off moves and slide steps, your pitchers can stop the run game themselves.
All in all, I believe the Twins have wasted 11 million dollars on Suzuki and also wasted 14 million on Willingham and whatever the amount was on Doumit's extension. This is a trend that needs to be addressed if we ever want to see this team start to turn the corner and contend again in a very mediocre division.
Written by Nick Calo, follow me on Twitter for more updates and sports thoughts @PRH1987