DENVER, CO - APRIL 29: Pitcher Joel Hanrahan #52 and catcher Chris Snyder #19 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebate their victory over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 29, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Hanrahan earned his eighth save of the season as the Pirates defeated the Rockies 3-0. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
|Chris Snyder||.215/.324/.381||.232/.324/.388, 25% CS||.271/.376/.396, 26% CS|
There wasn't a single guesser who got particularly close, which perhaps makes some sense, given the sample size - Snyder only played in 34 games.
This just in: Chris Snyder is useful when he hits .271! Unfortunately, he's not very useful when he can't stay on the field. Ryan Doumit picked up 200 at-bats behind the plate and put up an .848 OPS. Between him and Snyder, the Pirates got a reasonable amount of offense from the catcher position (they had a .702 OPS back there, compared to a .700 OPS for all major-league teams), even though the catcher position felt like a colossal mess for most of the year.
The Pirates used a remarkable eight catchers, including one who didn't appear at all ready for prime time (Dusty Brown), one who wasn't there for any discernible reason (Matt Pagnozzi), and one who had to be praising the heavens for the remarkable number of injuries to players ahead of him (Wyatt Toregas).
(Fun fact: Wyatt Toregas' middle name is Reeder. He also wore extremely cool-looking catching gear in his few appearances with the Bucs. This completes the list of things I care to say about Wyatt Toregas, and probably marks the last time he will be mentioned on Bucs Dugout.)
That leaves Michael McKenry, Jason Jaramillo and Eric Fryer. If neither Doumit nor Snyder come back, those three and Pagnozzi will be the top catchers on the Pirates' depth chart. The Pirates will need to find some creative way to get Doumit or Snyder without paying through the nose for them (they have options on both of them, but neither are particularly favorable), or find some halfway-competent free agent (there aren't many), or make a trade.
If they don't do any of those things, here's what they've got. McKenry will likely occupy one of the major-league spots. He provided the Pirates with a number of nice moments in 2011, and he was certainly a breath of fresh air after watching Dusty Brown behind the plate, but McKenry's a backup, pure and simple. If you look up "backup catcher" on Urban Dictionary, you will see "Michael McKenry." (Actually, the first thing you see right now is Eli Whiteside. But I just entered a new definition that includes McKenry. For real. Approve it, editors!)
I imagine the other major-league spot would be occupied by Jaramillo, who is out of options. He actually hit a little bit down the stretch this year, but like McKenry, he's not much of a hitter in general, and the Pirates will be giving up a lot at the position if they can't find a better pair than that.
Personally, if I have to go with the internal options, I'm probably taking Fryer and McKenry, in that order. Not that I think Fryer is any great shakes, but he's the only remaining internal candidate who has any prayer of hitting at all in the long term, so the Pirates might as well figure out what they've got there. Let's hope they don't put themselves in a position where they have to make a decision like that.