The Pirates need to keep Tony Sanchez in the MLB and not relegate him back to Indianapolis. It has been rumored that the Pirates have plans to send Sanchez back to AAA once off-season acquisition Chris Stewart is healthy.
Stewart is on the mend from a knee injury that he suffered in spring training and he has finally made his way to AAA Indianapolis. However Sanchez has looked solid thus far into the season.
Sanchez is batting .333 with four RBIs. He has also come through for the Pirates in numerous pinch-hitting situations, as he has become the go-to guy in key situations.
Stewart is a 32 year-old career-journeyman who has played for the White Sox, Rangers, Padres, Giants and most recently, the Yankees. With a career batting average of .214 with eight career home runs, batting is not his specialty. He is well known for his stellar behind-the-plate defense. That is the main reason that the Pirates brought him in this offseason.
Pirates starting catcher Russell Martin is an extremely skilled defender while Sanchez is not. That being said, Sanchez would be used at most, once a week behind the plate. He will be in the majors more or less for his bat, which is something that Stewart lacks.
I think that the Pirates should keep Sanchez in the Majors for as long as he is able to successfully keep his hot hitting up. There is no reason to send him down to AAA when he offers offensive production at the Major League level. Sending him back to the minor leagues now would stunt his growth immensely.
In the event that Pirates management feels that Chris Stewart needs to be on the Major League level, the Pirates should keep Sanchez on the bench and use him as a utility player and pinch hitter as he has proven that he can be clutch.
Sanchez could also join a line of catchers to play first base. He could add more offense to a platoon of Travis Ishikawa who is batting .231 and Gaby Sanchez who is .182. Sanchez would allow some much needed help at the first base department.
Whether or not Sanchez could be effective playing first base or not remains to be seen. The Pirates could ideally start training him now at that position in the event that Stewart is healthy and their choice to backup Martin.
At 6-4 the Pirates are continuing where they left off last year, however, there is no proof that it is at all sustainable. They continue to play inconsistently. You have to think that if the Pirates are able to continue winning games that Sanchez could be a movable piece at the trade deadline. For whatever reason the Pirates seem to not be committed to the future of Sanchez.
It will be interesting to see what they do.