06 February 2018

The Andrew Susac Trade And Dan Duquette's Derek Lowe Mistake

On Friday, the Orioles announced that they acquired catcher Andrew Susac from the Brewers for a player to be named later or cash. As with most fringe roster moves -- and especially during a painfully slow offseason -- the news was met with the usual amount of fan responses like, "So what?" and "Can he pitch?" and "Print those playoff tickets!"

Susac was picked up as a depth move, and likely nothing more. The O's don't seem to be thrilled with their current options at backup catcher because maybe Chance Sisco hasn't progressed enough defensively to their liking, and maybe they don't think Austin Wynns is ready yet. Who knows? It's February. Susac is simply another choice at catcher, he took very little to add, and he has a minor league option remaining. It's not a move anyone should be upset about.

The more interesting part of the trade, though, is perhaps Dan Duquette's statement about Susac. In a text message to reporters, Duquette said:
The other beat writers quickly shared Duquette's statement. Susac, however, is a right-handed batter only. The mistake was described as both a "typo" and an "autocorrect issue." Now, while prefacing that this is more amusing than a big deal, it seems that the most logical answer is Duquette, either being momentarily confused or just unsure, texted the wrong information to reporters.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter that Susac isn't a switch-hitter. Backup catchers are usually not acquired for their bats, and Susac has had decent (but not great) success at the plate in parts of four major league seasons and 274 plate appearances (96 wRC+ overall, 168 wRC+ against LHP but just 60 wRC+ vs. RHP). If the bat were the only consideration, Sisco would have the backup job locked up right now. Susac is at least competent defensively; the same cannot be said of Sisco yet.

But let's go back to the error in Duquette's statement, since it's the primary reason for this post. Back in 2013, Derek Lowe revealed that, in the 1997 trade when the Red Sox acquired Jason Varitek and Lowe from the Mariners in exchange for Heathcliff Slocumb, then-Red Sox general manager Duquette thought Lowe was a left-handed pitcher. As Lowe recalled:
"I tell this story all the time -- it's funny -- Dan thought I was left-handed. ...When we got back to the hotel the day we got traded, I'm on the phone with Dan, and he says, 'Yeah, we hear you're a tall, left-handed pitcher' and you're a young kid and I'm like, whoa, wrong guy. I didn't have the gumption to say, 'And by the way, I'm right-handed.'"
Jon, who put forward the idea for this post, noticed the similarity on Saturday:
It's not surprising for a GM to not know something about an acquired player, but it's a little odd to not know if a player is right- or left-handed. Still, in trades, lots of players are discussed, and it could be easy, perhaps, to get one minor part of a deal confused for another. That doesn't mean it's not entertaining. Regardless, if Susac even has a smidgen of the success Lowe had, the O's will be over the moon.

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