The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the verge of doing something that they haven’t done in two decades. Whether your goal is to see the Bucs play postseason baseball this season or simply finish above .500, one thing is clear: the Pirates need a roster filled with the best 25 players they can put together.
Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington will certainly make some additions to the current roster as the trade deadline approaches, but he can look to address the backup catcher spot sooner rather than later by promoting catcher Tony Sanchez.
Michael McKenry was a nice story a season ago and he had some good moments filling in for the ineffective Rod Barajas. But the book on McKenry should be closed as the Bucs severely need to address the need for a capable No. 2 catcher.
Sure Huntington can do that via trade, but he has a more-than-capable body waiting for the call down at Triple-A Indianapolis in the form of Sanchez.
There’s the school of thought that the former first-round pick shouldn’t get promoted unless he is going to play every day, but that won’t happen as long as Russell Martin is on the roster.
But Martin can’t play every day and the Pirates simply can’t keep running McKenry out there when Martin needs a day off.
Huntington has said that Sanchez still has some throwing issues to work out, but McKenry as the same throwing problems, gunning down only six of 41 potential base stealers on the season.
The difference is the fact that Sanchez isn’t nearly the automatic out that “the Fort” has become. McKenry is hitting only .190 on the season with a woeful .565 OPS.
Instead Sanchez has produced in a big way for Indianapolis. The 2009 first-round pick appears ready for a legitimate opportunity after hitting .290 with 10 homers and 41 RBI, posting an .879 OPS on the season.
It’s sometimes hard to throw a youngster into the thick of a playoff chase, but Sanchez represents an upgrade in almost every way over McKenry.
Factoring in his struggles both offensively and defensively, you can make the case that McKenry is one of the worst players in the major leagues at the moment. You can also make a case that McKenry has no business being on a major league roster, especially one that is contending for a playoff spot.
At the end of the day, McKenry is a very nice guy and a good team guy. But nice guys aren’t what the Pirates need at the moment. They need talent and even in a backup role, Sanchez is a huge upgrade over the likes of McKenry.
It’s time for Huntington to make a move and make one quickly.