Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Rod Barajas shouldn't be back with the Pirates next year. At all.
"Is he a [No. 1 catcher]?," Hurdle said. "Or turn it into a two? Is there another one? Is it time for McKenry to be a one? Is there another one out there? As you look at the crystal ball, and those conversations are candid. We had it with Rod as part of the exit interview. You got to make sure you have that conversation. Is the guy willing to go in with the mindset that, okay, I’m not the 100-120 game guy anymore. I might be the 60-80 game guy…I thought it was time to explore that with Rod. He wants to play, and I think he understands very well where he is at this point in time in his career."
Tim wrote more about Barajas this morning. I don't think the Pirates will offer Barajas any more than a minor-league deal, and probably not even that. I think they'll look for catching on the free-agent market, and if they can't find it there, they'll use Michael McKenry and Tony Sanchez. So Hurdle's idea that Barajas will play 60-80 games for the Pirates next year doesn't bother me. That's not going to happen. I'll scream to high heaven if it does, but it won't.
Obviously, Barajas, even when he's given a job that he apparently can't lose, isn't a "100-120 game guy" anymore, having caught more than 104 games only once since 2006. I checked Barajas and McKenry's numbers down the stretch this year and was a little surprised to see that McKenry actually got a few more at-bats than Barajas in August and September. It certainly felt like Barajas was out there most of the time. He's essentially already a part-time player, and that worked out terribly for the Pirates this season.
Even relegating Barajas to backup duty would be a big mistake. He's a .235 career hitter who batted .206 in 2012, at age 36. He threw out six of 99 baserunners this year. You don't need your backup catcher to do everything, but you do need him to do something, and this nebulous veteran-y stuff about how well he handles the pitching staff just doesn't cut it, especially when the pitchers spent the last couple months of the season sliding downhill.