The Pittsburgh Pirates are 39-27, good for four games back in the National League Central division behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. Keeping pace with the Cardinals and Reds is a difficult task, as they seemingly win every day. For that reason, the Pirates must have their best 25 players on their roster if possible. Obviously, injuries prevent that from always being the case, but in the case I am about to explore, injuries aren’t an issue.
The Pirates got a real gem in free agency when they signed the top free agent catcher, Russell Martin, to a two-year deal. It was a refreshing thing to see, not only because the Pirates were willing to spend top dollar for a great player, but because it meant Michael McKenry would be the backup catcher rather than the starter.
McKenry is loved by many Pirates’ fans due to his “heart and hustle”. His nickname “The Fort” really explains the only thing McKenry does well, block balls in the dirt. His throwing arm, to be honest, is awful. When a batter reaches base against McKenry, it’s a sure thing that he will be attempting to steal second at some point. Of the 29 stolen base attempts against McKenry in 2013, he has caught two of them, only seven percent.
Now I am calling for McKenry not only to be replaced as the backup catcher, but he needs to be optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis in order to promote top catching prospect Tony Sanchez to the MLB club.
Sanchez has a reputation as a very good defensive catcher. In 2013 in Triple-A, he has only thrown out 21 percent of base-stealers; but that is 14 percent better than McKenry.
Offensively, McKenry doesn’t do much. He hits occasional “clutch” home runs that make the fans and broadcasters love him; but other than that, his .211/.273/.394 triple-slash line in 77 plate appearances isn’t impressive. In 190 plate appearances with Triple-A Indy, Sanchez has hit for a .301/.389/.558 slash line. Sanchez has been great offensively. Obviously this has been done in the minor leagues, but he obviously has the talent. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft. At 25 years old, it’s time for the Pirates to give Sanchez a chance to play at the MLB level. What else does he need to do to prove that he is ready?