Last season displayed the emergence of Michael McKenry. He finished with double-digit home runs, and was a very solid backup catcher. The only thing: he was a backup. I’m not sure why he was the second catcher on the roster, but then again I’m not the manager of the team.
Rod Barajas was pretty awful. Fans are glad that Barajas is gone, and there were very few people who enjoyed Barajas’ presence a season ago. The majority of Pirate Nation felt that McKenry should have been the starting catcher, and I was right on board with them. He wouldn’t have been that amazing of an everyday starter, but giving him the nod for over half of the games might not have been a bad idea. Once again, though, that was last season.
This season is different.
The Pirates have a former All-Star as their new starting catcher in Russell Martin. He was given a hefty contract at two years for $17 million, but is off to a slow start in 2013. He only has three hits so far through the first thirteen games, and has done a decent job behind the plate.
April 14, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Mark Melancon (35) reacts with catcher Michael McKenry (19) after recording the final out against the Cincinnati Reds after the ninth inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
McKenry, as we all know, was the hero in Sunday’s awesome comeback victory over the Cincinnati Reds. He had two home runs, including a game tying 2-run shot in the bottom of the eighth.
I love McKenry. He plays with heart, and is an awesome human being. In the few times I’ve had the chance to talk to him at games/community events, he is one of the nicest guys I have ever talked to. I was really glad he came through Sunday afternoon for the Pirates, but was surprised to see that fans are already calling for a switch at catcher. I’m not singling out any Pirate fans, but being a guy who watches every game along with following what other people have to say on Twitter, there are definitely people out there who have brought it up.
Really? Come on, now.
McKenry may have deserved to be the full-time starter in 2012; this year he doesn’t. There’s a reason the Pirates gave a player $17 million dollars this offseason. They didn’t feel confident in McKenry being the full-time starter. Martin may have early season struggles, but then again, so have most of the other starters. With the exception of a few players, the whole team is struggling in the batting department thus far. He’s going to come around, and fans will understand why he deserves to be the everyday catcher.
Last season was McKenry’s best chance if he was really going to be a starting catcher. Mixing him in one or two times a week is an idea I can dig. I’m a fan of having him come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, and him being around in case a game goes to extra innings is always a nice perk. He’s not an everyday starting catcher. He’s a good backup, but not a starter.
Martin is an everyday starting catcher. Like I have pointed out twice above, there’s a reason he was made one of the highest paid catchers this offseason. So, for those out there who are actually convinced that McKenry deserves to start over Martin, just be patient and wait and see what the fourth highest paid player on the team can actually do.