After trading Jason Castro midway through the 2020 season, the Los Angeles Angels knew they needed a veteran to back up Max Stassi behind the plate. They found their man in 15-year catcher Kurt Suzuki, and the two-man crew have already begun doing solid work for the Angels.
Suzuki is 1-for-5 on the year, but has reached base a total of three times in seven plate appearances. Meanwhile, Stassi is batting .364 while reaching base on six out of 13 appearances. Both have played well and have expressed their positivity surrounding the state of the team.
Stassi had high praise for the general manager tandem of Perry Minasian and assistant Alex Tamin, saying they’ve done a phenomenal job communicating with him and the pitchers, according to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:
Said catcher Max Stassi: “A lot of it is just conversation. (They’re) asking for my opinion. I kind of have my questions, too, about our philosophies and what we’re going to do, and I think they’re going to do a phenomenal job. I like the information that they’ve brought in and how they’ve relayed it to our pitchers.”
Suzuki, who came to the Angels on a smaller deal than he likely could have gotten elsewhere, said that their collaborative style is what drew him to the team.
“They just give you options to be successful,” Suzuki said. “They don’t tell you that you have to be one way. I think sometimes you can get into that pitfall of, ‘Hey, this is the way you do it. This is how you get hitters out. And this is it.’ … They give you options on what they feel is best for you to be successful, and then you can give your input and tell them what you think your strengths are and then you combine them. It becomes this perfect storm.”
It’s still very early on in the 2021 season, but it seems Minasian, Joe Maddon, and their front office have done an excellent job creating a culture within the organization.
Through six games, the Angels are 4-2, and appear to be loving every second of playing with one another. Perhaps this culture will allow players to exceed their expected output as the Halos look for their first playoff berth since 2014.
Aaron Slegers finding success early on with Angels
Just as the catchers are feeling good about the early part of this season, the pitchers have shared a similar sentiment. Reliever Aaron Slegers was particularly happy with what he’s seen from his own performances in his first three outings for the Angels.
Joe Maddon was complementary in return, saying that the way Slegers pitches is unique, but an art form nonetheless.