Tag:Michael McKenry
Posted on: November 10, 2011 12:19 pm
 

Pirates sign catcher Rod Barajas

By Matt Snyder

A few weeks after declining to pick up options on catchers Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder, the Pirates have added a catcher via free agency. Rod Barajas has signed a one-year deal with a team option with the Pirates, the team announced Thursday. Barajas' 2012 salary is $4 million and the option is for $3.5 million reports Yahoo's Tim Brown.

Barajas, 36, hit .230/.287/.430 with 16 home runs in 336 plate appearances for the Dodgers last season. He has good power but doesn't do a good job at getting on base. Expect Barajas to be the primary starter behind the plate for the Pirates with Michael McKenry filling in a few times a week or so. Barajas has never appeared in more than 125 games in a season.

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Posted on: July 9, 2011 1:30 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: McKenry's unlikely bomb



By Matt Snyder


Michael McKenry, Pirates. McKenry dug into the batter's box against the Cubs' Carlos Marmol in the bottom of the eighth Friday night with the game tied at four and two men on base. McKenry hit a three-run homer that would be the eventual game-winner. Sure, Marmol is a fickle closer, but he does not cough up the long ball with any semblance of regularity. Check this out: In the past three seasons (coming into Friday night), Marmol had faced 840 hitters and allowed four home runs. Four! McKenry had zero career major-league home runs before the at-bat. He does have 69 minor-league homers, but that's in over 2,000 plate appearances. So this was the longshot of the night. Meanwhile, the Pirates would have been tied for first place had the Reds not blown a lead in the ninth inning. Still, the Bucs sit a game out of first and had a dramatic victory in front of the home fans.

Travis Snider, Blue Jays. The Jays had to have felt a bit deflated after losing on a walk-off grand slam Thursday night to the Indians, but they came back strong with an 11-7 win. Sure, the bullpen tried to blow the game again (it was 8-2 at one point), but the offense was relentless. It pounded out 11 runs on 16 hits. Rajai Davis was great, but Snider stood out for me. He went 3-5 with a double, home run, two runs and five RBI. He's been a promising prospect for a while but never really put things together for an extended stretch. Maybe he's doing so now, because he's hitting .409 with five doubles, a home run and eight RBI since resurfacing in the lineup on July 4.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers. I don't even want to think what he's going through. Had I been the one who tried to toss a ball up into the crowd for a father to give to his young son, and then seen that father plunge to his untimely demise ... well, I don't know. I'm sure I'd keep playing it over and over in my head that had I just not thrown the ball ... Or thrown it higher ... Man, it would be so tough to get past that. It's not Hamilton's fault at all, but it's human nature to start thinking about things like that. He heard the boy screaming for his Daddy, for God's sake. How can you get through that? And Hamilton showed up for work Friday and answered all the questions with grace and sensitivity. He played in the Rangers' 8-5 win, too. Kudos to him for keeping himself together and let's hope that continues.



Zach Britton, Orioles. It would be safe to say the future ace has hit the proverbial wall. Through nine starts, Britton had a 2.14 ERA and easily would have been a Rookie of the Year candidate. He had a quality start next time out. Since then, however, it's been ugly. From May 29 leading into Friday, Britton had a 5.35 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. And then Friday night was a catastrophe. Britton only recorded two outs while allowing six hits, two walks and eight runs. At age 23, and with the Orioles going absolutely nowhere this year, it's worth thinking about optioning him to Triple-A to salvage some confidence.

Brian Wilson, Giants. I thought people feared the beard? Maybe Wilson needs to just finally give in and shave. Friday night, he entered with a tie game in the ninth inning against the Mets. He coughed up a home run to Scott Hairston and took the loss. In Wilson's past five outings, he's blown two saves and has Friday's loss. His ERA in those games is 7.20 and twice he's been pulled before finishing an inning on his own. Maybe he's overworked, but the only people fearing this small sample are Giants fans who realize the offense isn't good enough to overcome Wilson faltering.

Padres' offense. One week ago, almost to the minute, I posted that the Padres would make dubious history before the All-Star break. They did Friday night. They have now been shutout 14 times before the All-Star break, which amounts to 15.6 percent of the time they suit up. No team in recent memory has been so futile offensively. The closest match was the 2004 Expos, who were shutout 13 times before the break.

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 10:42 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 10:45 pm
 

Red Sox have two-week leash on Saltalamacchia

Saltalamacchia

By Evan Brunell

The Red Sox could make a change at catcher in the coming weeks, as Peter Gammons reports on WEEI, noting that "this is an issue that in the next two weeks is going to be addressed, and I don't know which direction it's going."

Incumbent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, once thought to have a leash until June, instead could be on the way out after a thoroughly uninspiring start to the year. Salty has an inaccurate arm and has looked lost at the plate by striking out 13 times in 39 plate appearances with a low .194/.256/.222 line. That's simply awful, and while it's only 39 plate appearances, he's looked so far away from the pedigree that made him a former first-round pick that he's already started losing copious amounts of playing time to Jason Varitek. The captain has started five of the last nine games -- this after Salty kicked the year off with seven of eight appearances.

"He’s such a good guy. He cares so much. He tries so hard," Gammons said. "[But] you just can’t have this on a championship team, especially when a big part of that championship team is built around power pitchers who are in a couple of cases struggling for their identity. I would be shocked now if Varitek doesn’t catch [Josh] Beckett all the time now. Clearly, they’ve made the decision that he’s going to catch [Daisuke] Matsuzaka, whose earned run average is massively different with Varitek catching. But I don’t think they can afford to let Jason go out and try to catch 120, 130 games."

Part of the problem is that the performances of pitchers with Salty starting are terrible, with a 7.16 ERA for pitchers with the 26-year-old behind the plate. 'Tek, meanwhile, is at 2.40. It's far too early to consider whether that's an actual issue or dumb luck as the sample size is simply too small. But the fact that Varitek has already become the personal catcher for two starting pitchers is not promising. That said, it remains in Boston's best interest to develop Saltalamacchia. With the Red Sox finally winning and the pressure off searching for quick fix solutions, Salty will get a fair number of at-bats in the next couple of weeks to prove Boston's adamant belief that he can be an impact hitter.

What happens if he can't, though? What happens if Boston decides to move on from Salty? Who can replace him?

It can't be Varitek, who has proven at this point in his career he is no longer capable of starting full-time. But who else is out there?

Internally, Luis Exposito and Michael McKenry (acquired from the Rockies in late March) are splitting time at Triple-A. While McKenry is an intriguing name, he is off to a slow start and in a new organization. Exposito, meanwhile, could end up a starting catcher in the majors but the 24-year-old is struggling himself in his first crack at Triple-A.

Gammons names Tim Federowicz as a possibility, as the Double-A catcher is "the best catch-and-throw guy in the organization." Certainly, if a move was to be made, the Sox would go defense over offense so Federowicz is a real possibility -- a better one than Ryan Lavarnway, a catcher in name only who is DHing as Federowciz's teammate.

How about externally? Boston certainly has the trade pieces to strike for a catcher, as they could dangle outfielder Mike Cameron, infielders Jed Lowrie or Marco Scutaro (likely the latter) and prospects such as Yamaico Navarro, Oscar Tejeda, Kyle Weiland, Lars Anderson ... no, finding chips to deal won't be an issue. Finding someone to deal for is. The best available name is Ivan Rodriguez, who is frozen out in Washington. But there's a reason I-Rod is available: he's no longer a legitimate starter as his bat has abandoned him in his chase for 3,000 hits. Gammons also believes Rodriguez would struggle with the pitching staff in Boston even if he has an impeccable defensive reputation.

Other than that ... umm ...

"If there was somebody available who they thought was really good defensively, I think they would immediately jump and do something. I don’t see that catcher," said Gammons. "I’ve gone through lists everywhere trying to figure out who could possibly be available. I just don’t see anybody good. There are guys out there who are OK backups."

And "OK backups" won't fly for the Red Sox. Oh, sure, the Red Sox could entice Bengie Molina out of retirement, but Molina's an aging catcher whose lost all value in his bat and would need a few weeks, at minimum, to get into playing shape.

Bottom line: there isn't much out there.

When push comes to shove, even if the Red Sox believe Salty's leash is only there for two more weeks, they may not have much choice in extending that leash.

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Posted on: October 5, 2010 10:14 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:58 am
 

Rockies to exercise option on Olivo

Miguel Olivo The Rockies will exercise their $2.7 million option on catcher Miguel Olivo, Tracy Ringolsby writes .

Olivo's option was originally worth $2.5 million, but bumped up wihen he played in his 110th game.

Olivo made $2 million this year in Colorado after the Royals declined his $3.3 million option after 2009.

Olivo hit .269/.315/.449 with 14 homers and 58 RBI in 2010. Although his power numbers went down (from 23 homers and a .490 slugging percentage) this season, he increased his average and on-base percentage in Denver.

Looking at his splits, Olivo's gains may be a product of Coors -- he hit .318/.349/.556 at home and .211/.276/.322 on the road. Ten of his 14 homers came at Coors.

The home-field factor wasn't the only red-flag in his splits -- he hit .325/.377/.548 with 11 homers in the first half of the season, and .193/.225/.313 in the second half.

The Rockies have Chris Iannetta under contract, but is due $6.1 million over the next two years. The Rockies could look to trade Iannetta, but would have to eat much of his contract. He due $2.55 million next season, $3.55 million in 2012 with a $5 million club option for 2013 with a  $250,000 buy-out. If traded, he may void that option.

Ianettea's trade value isn't exactly at its peak -- he hit .197/.318/.383 with nine homers and 27 RBI this season, and .175/.296/.278 with two homers on the road.

If the Rockies do trade Ianetta, Michael McKenry and Paul Phillips are possibilities to backup Olivo. Both were called up in September. Two of the Rockies' top prospects are catchers, Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco. Rosario tore his ACL in August, while Pacheco started the season in high-Class A, but finished the season in Triple-A and will play in the Arizona Fall League.

The Rockies have hinted they'd like to take a look at free agent catcher Victor Martinez.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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