When the Pirates declined to bring Rod Barajas they admitted another free agent failure. It’s become something of given. Water is wet. Sun is hot. Pirates don’t get it done in Free Agency.
By not getting it done though they left a huge hole to be filled. What is there to do behind the dish?
A lot of people want Michael McKenry to carry the load. That is almost solely based on a first half in which he didn’t start most of the time, but was very successful. His second half? Not so much.
That second half almost never gets talked about. It doesn’t fit into a narrative so it’s left out quite a bit.
Something even more rarely talked about? His huge home/road splits.
McKenry was quite bad at PNC Park this year.
So no. I don’t think he is a fix. A part of the solution for sure, but only as a backup until he proves otherwise.
McKenry shouldn’t start 100 games, which seems to be the current course of action. He is the 60 inning guy. The Pirates need the 100 inning guy.
That’s the main reason I was happy to see David Ross go to the Red Sox. Not that I dislike Ross, I just don’t think he can handle the 100 games. He is probably the best backup in the game. That’s not what the Pirates need.
Now the focus has seemed to shift to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty has started 100+ games in each of his last two seasons, posting his second straight .730+ OPS year in a row. Nothing great, but nothing to sneeze at considering the production Rod Barajas gave the Pirates.
Salty’s value is basically only in his power. Left field to center field in PNC Park would rob most of Salty’s power though from the right side.
When he isn’t hitting for power Salty is pretty much worthless. He does nothing else well. In fact he had an OBP of .288 in the last two seasons. Consider that is just .005 better than Rod Barajas. Rod did that hitting .202.
Salty is a low average catcher with a poor arm, a low walk rate, and a high strikeout rate. He occasionally hits a homer.
Is that what the Pirates need?
Not at all.
That’s especially true when you take into account that he would need to be acquired via trade AND only has one year left on his contract.
He is exactly what the Pirates don’t need in a rental.
Not that rentals are bad though. I honestly think the only solution this year is probably a rental. That would hopefully buy Tony Sanchez some time to learn how to hit a baseball – instead of the patrons of local drinking establishments.
So who fits?
Honestly I think it’s A.J. Pierzynski. I know he’s old, but he’s better than Salty in basically every aspect of the game. Except his power. A.J. brings something very important to the lineup. Something that the stat heads will decry as unimportant but are completely wrong to dismiss.
A good average. A.J.’s average has been pretty special (.300) and very okay (.278) over the past four seasons, but it’s still a high average. This team needs guys that can get hits. I’m really not going to use the 27 homers last year to justify the deal, but if he did that again it’s just icing.
This team has too many droughts. Too often they just don’t get hits. It’s frustrating. It’s something everyone can see. It’s something that needs to be addressed, even if you don’t like the stat.
A.J. would be a great fit as a rental, and the Pirates need to take a serious run at him.