Barmes and Barajas

It goes without saying that Barmes and Barajas have both been disappointments so far this season. Both players were brought in not to be black holes in the lineup and to provide solid defense, to date neither of those things are true. Barajas is supporting an OPS+ of 23 and Barmes an OPS+ of 30. As for the defense Barmes has already committed 5 errors and Barajas has looked anything but stout. The question now is should the Pirates continue trotting them out there or should they go an alternative route and if so what? Before exploring that question though I am going to look at a few other choices the Pirates had this offseason.

Catcher

Rod Barajas 23 OPS+

Ramon Hernandez 113 OPS+

Geovany Soto 29 OPS+

Chris Iannetta 124 OPS+

Chris Snyder 32 OPS+

Ryan Doumit 70 OPS+

Francisco Cervelli .529 OPS in AAA

Note: At the beginning of the offseason I advocated the Pirates trying to trade for a catcher because the options on the free agent market were rather barren. I recognized at the time with Sanchez still in line as the catcher of the future the chances of a trade happening were slim. At the time Iannetta and Soto were probably the most talked about candidates and I favored Iannetta but realized it was likely a long shot. Cervelli emerged as a candidate late in the offseason I actually believe in a rumor for Garrett Jones but he is one I would gladly pass on. The top free agent available was Hernandez but it was thought a 1st round comp pick would be required. The only chance the Pirates realistically had at retaining Doumit was picking up his option and that wasn’t and shouldn’t happen. That left Barajas and Snyder as the two free agent options I endorsed. I wasn’t thrilled about either choice but something needed to be done. The Pirates choose Barajas and while I wasn’t thrilled with the choice it was probably the best catcher free agent move they could have made at the time.

Shortstop

Clint Barmes 30 OPS+

Ronny Cedeno 123 OPS+ (16 PA)

Ramon Santiago 23 OPS+

Note: I admit there are probably more options I am omitting but these 3 I recall as being the most prevalent. When the offseason began I wanted Cedeno’s option picked up because again the free agent market wasn’t good but unlike the catcher position I did not advocating trading for a player because a long term solution at shortstop is tough to come by and with d’Arnaud, Mercer and to some extent Harrison and Navarro in the fold I felt the team would be able to in a short time muster up a respectable shortstop option. Once Cedeno’s option was declined and the Santiago rumors arose I felt he would be a good choice basically a cheaper Cedeno who could hold the shortstop spot down until someone else emerged. I will admit though that I felt if the Pirates wanted to pursue a better option at shortstop the best fit would be Clint Barmes (I saw Reyes and Rollins as unrealistic) and I wasn’t terribly upset with the signing although I did not like the two year deal.

As you can see that at the time of the signings the Barajas and Barmes signings were understandable albeit not spectacular and as of right now they both look like pretty bad pickups. I still hold some faith out for them, more for Barmes than Barajas actually and I still can see why the Pirates signed them but at this point it is tough not to argue that the Pirates should pursue different alternatives. Namely McKenry and Navarro. Now look I’m not calling for either of these players to assume a full time starting role but having them a few starts away from each player wouldn’t be a bad idea. I say play Navarro at short about 3 out of 10 games and McKenry at catcher 4 out of 10 games.

Neither players has much of a sample size this year but I will put together a short resume for each.

Michael McKenry

2012: 164 OPS+ (25 PA)

2011: 66 OPS+

AAA: .760 OPS (495 career PA)

Yamaico Navarro

2012: 98 OPS+ (24 PA)

2011: 77 OPS+

AAA: .797 OPS (309 career PA)

OK, I’ll admit those aren’t great resumes but with the two struggling veteran starters these two younger players have earned a chance to play at least 2-3 time a week. Hopefully the Pirates will see this and try to this to see if 1) Navarro and McKenry have a future with this team and 2) To see if it will jump start Barmes or Barajas. As of now though Something has to be done about the black hole that are the 7 and 8 spots in the Pirates order.

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