#FTFTrivia Answer 11/29/12

Tonight we asked…

and the answer to tonight’s #FTFTrivia is…

Eight catchers

Those eight catchers were Michael McKenry, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Dusty Brown, Jason Jaramillo, Eric Fryer, Matt Pagnozzi, and Wyatt Toregas. This is significant because the Pirates have just reached an agreement with catcher Russell Martin.

Congratulations to tonight’s winners: @freezoid400, @mjportash, @BMVenslosky, @_DrewBrown, @Irate_Fan7, @TSchusyy, @bmur13, @NuttingHostage, and @s7pinney.

Thanks to all who participated, and tune in next time for another edition of #FTFTrivia.

Go Bucs

Photo: WEBN-TV/Creative Commons

2012 in Review: Catching

“Barge” and “The Fort” held down the catching duties for the Bucs.

A catching tandem that struggled to throw out baserunners hurt the team in the long run.

Games AVG HR RBI OPS
Rod Barajas 104 .206 11 31 .625
Michael McKenry 88 .233 12 39 .762

Pretty rough year behind the plate for the Bucs.  Rod, thought to be an offensive upgrade but defensive downgrade compared to Ryan Doumit, disappointed greatly.  His offense was terrible at best.  His defense was almost impossible to watch as the opposing teams ran wild on the bases.  The one upside to Rod’s season was how much he and A.J. Burnett connected, which probably added to A.J.’s success all season.  McKenry was thought of mostly as a backup, but he played almost as many games as Rod.  “The Fort” captivated Bucco fans with his clutch home runs, but that was about it.  His defense wasn’t much better than Rod, and he couldn’t really be relied on as an every-day catcher.  Serious upgrades need to be made behind the plate this offseason.

Checking in on some former Buccos

Here’s a look at how some ex-Pirates are faring this season:

- Nate McLouth was recently called up by the Baltimore Orioles. He tore it up for their Triple-A club, the Norfolk Tides, and earned a spot on their big league roster. Nate has hit .250 with four doubles and a triple in 14 games for the O’s

- Brad Lincoln has an ERA of 6.55 in eight games for the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s been tagged for eight runs in his last four outings.

- Adam LaRoche has enjoyed a solid season for the first place Washington Nationals. In 114 games, he has 23 HR and 77 RBI while hitting .260.

- Sean Burnett is also contributing big time in the nation’s capital. The lefty reliever has a 1.94 ERA in 55 appearances for the Nats.

- In 54 games for the Mets, Ronny Cedeno is hitting .287 with 3 homers and 21 runs batted in. He missed time due to injury in April (left intercostal strain) and May (strained left calf).

- In his first season with the Minnesota Twins, Ryan Doumit has hit a solid .292 with 14 long balls. The injury-prone catcher has played in 101 of Minnesota’s 120 games, and has only been bothered by a right calf strain this season. He inked a two-year extension with the Twins in June.

- Steve Pearce has landed in Houston after playing 28 games for the Orioles. He’s hit .283 in 16 games for the Astros.

- Chris Snyder is also with the lowly Astros. Snyder is hitting an abysmal .181 this season.

- Xavier Paul has been clutch for the enemy Cincinnati Reds as of late. He sparked a walk-off win on Sunday by hitting a leadoff pinch-hit triple. Paul has managed a .342 batting average in 38 at-bats for the Redlegs.

Offensive Struggles

One thing is for sure: the Pirates lack hitting. Everyone knows that. Even early last season when the Bucs were winning, there was a huge lack of offensive production. The pitching was keeping them in those games, and the same is happening this year. It’s just so frustrating to see such horrible hitting when the pitching has been consistent to start the season.

Poor hitting aside, there’s one stat that throws the team under the bus as a whole: the Bucs are just 21-49 in the last 70 games, dating back to last year. To sum it up in one word: horrible. Absolutely horrible. A record of 21-49 translates to a winning percentage of .300. If the Pirates were to keep this pace for a 162 game season, that would produce about 48 or 49 wins.

The Pirates really went into a downward spiral after the All-Star Break last season, with the exception of a few weeks in late July. Here’s a look at the top five Pirates hitters (based on batting average) after the All-Star break last season:

1. Eric Fryer: 6 for 16, .375 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI
2. Pedro Ciriaco: 10 for 27, .370 AVG, 0 HR, 6 RBI
3. Derrek Lee: 34 for 101, 7 HR, 18 RBI, .337 AVG
4. Ryan Doumit: 41 for 125, 4 HR, 15 RBI, .328 AVG
5. Jason Jaramillo: 9 for 29, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .310 AVG

Although Fryer, Ciriaco, and Jaramillo had small sample sizes, it’s still shocking to see none of the five players still in the organization. Obviously, Lee and Doumit stand out the most. Both had really good second halves last year, and were pretty much the only guys to do so. Lee didn’t want to come back, and some didn’t want him because of his age. Still, those stats really jump out at you. As for Doumit, he was a player who spent his entire career with the Bucs, was injury-prone, and not a fan-favorite (largely due to his defensive struggles). After he returned from the DL last year, he didn’t do too bad, but not many noticed since everyone fell off the bandwagon. We aren’t suggesting that Fryerbot, Pedro “Frequent Flyer Miles” Ciriaco, or JJ should be on the team, but there are some arguments for Doumit and/or Lee.

Lee could’ve potentially been a nice piece, especially the way Jones has started (3 for 15, 5 K). McGehee has done really well so far, but he could’ve taken over 3B, at least vs. LHP. The coaching staff is doing its best to keep Pedro away from lefties, which is probably for the best. If Lee wanted to come back, he could’ve. But then again, maybe retiring is a better decision than being on this team right now.

As for Doumit, it’s getting to the point where you would rather have his offense than Barajas’ defense. Barajas is now batting .050 and has never had a decent OBP in his career. At least Doumit was an offensive threat, and you’d much rather have Doumit batting 5th than Barajas. We’d rather see this than Barajas hitting 1 for 20:

Simply put, the offense needs to be better. But it’s definitely easier said than done for this offensively-challenged lineup. How bad have Jose Tabata and Neil Walker been this season? Here’s a closer look at their stats from this season, as well as after the All-Star Break last year:

Walker went 2 for 4 on Saturday night in San Francisco. The problem? He had only one hit total the entire season so far. After the break last year, he hit .285 which was better than he hit prior to the break. Neil’s a pretty streaky hitter, so that isn’t too surprising. Hopefully the same can be said about his start to this season. He’s hitting just .120 and desperately needs to find his stroke if he wants to produce in the middle of the lineup. However, the guys in front of him need to get on for Walker to drive in some runs.

Tabata had another 0 for 4 night on Saturday and still hasn’t shown any power. He hit .273 after the break last year, which was actually better than before the break, just like Walker. Tabata’s biggest problem in his career so far has been his lack of power. As a corner OF, you need to display some power. The same can be said of Presley, although he hasn’t looked as bad. Tabata is currently at .160 for the year and needs to snap out of it as soon as possible.

Another player who needs to pick it up is Clint Barmes. He was brought in for 2 years/$10.5 million, and the fans are already losing patience. Not only did he make a bad throw to lose the game on Saturday, but he also went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and two left on base. His average is down to .083 and some fans would rather have Cedeno right now.

No matter who it is, someone in the lineup needs to get started. Maybe if someone can get some hitting going, the rest will follow. The pitching staff is keeping them in games as long as they can. It is astonishing that a team with an ERA of 2.78 has just two wins. For once, it seems that the pitching is not the problem. In past years, it always seemed that the Pirates lacked too much pitching to be able to compete. Now it seems like a complete role reversal. It seems like a good enough staff to rack up some wins. If/when the hitting comes around, there is a lot of potential to win some ballgames.

Go Bucs

Pirates Player Profile: Rod Barajas

 

Rod Barajas
Age: 36
Birth Place: Ontario, California
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 250 lbs.
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Career Stats:

(FanGraphs)

2012 Projections

(FanGraphs)

Rod Barajas was signed as an amateur free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1996. He made his MLB debut with the D’Backs in September of 1999. Before 2004, Barajas had never played more than 80 games, hit more than three home runs, or batted higher than .234 in a full season. He was invited to spring training by the Rangers in ’04 and broke camp as the backup catcher. He hit a career-high 21 HR as a starter in 2005, but his numbers dropped in 2006 when he had to split time with Gerald Laird.

In 2007, he split time with Carlos Ruiz behind the dish in Philadelphia. He signed with the Blue Jays in 2008, and was made the starting catcher when Cito Gaston took charge in Toronto. Barajas continued to start for the Jays through 2008 and all of 2009. The Mets inked him to a one-year deal in 2010, and he became the first Mets catcher to hit more than 12 HR since Mike Piazza left New York in 2005. Barajas also hit the first walk-off homer in the history of Citi Field.

Barajas was claimed off waivers in August of 2010 by the Los Angeles Dodgers and was acquired for cash considerations. After playing in 25 games for the Dodgers, they decided to re-sign him for 2011. Last year, he appeared in 98 games, hitting .230 with 16 home runs and 47 RBI. Since he played in LA, he made his way into some “dodgerfilms” videos:

The Pirates signed Barajas this offseason to a one-year, $4 million deal with a club option for 2013. This was a decent signing for a few reasons, both good and bad. First, $4M seems like a lot for the aging Barajas. Secondly, he doesn’t get on base a whole lot, which is something the Pirates need. However, he can supply some power, and he will be a defensive upgrade over Ryan Doumit. Still, it’s probably better to have an everyday veteran guy instead of having Michael McKenry or a Jason Jaramillo-type catcher behind the plate. Barajas will work well with the young set of pitchers, and he also had experience with newest Bucco A.J. Burnett in Toronto. There weren’t too many decent options on the free agent market in terms of catchers this offseason. Ramon Hernandez was a possible target, and ended up signing a 2 year deal for $6.4 million with Colorado. Barajas and McKenry are the only two catchers on the 40-man roster, so it looks like that’s who we’ll be riding with this season, unless a non-roster player like Jose Morales or Jake Fox steps up big in spring training. Hopefully Barajas can piece together a solid season, both offensively and defensively, for the Pirates in 2012.

Go Bucs