Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Contemplating A.J. Pierzynski

A.J. Pierzynski's half-season with the
Red Sox, captured in one image.

A few days before the All-Star break, the Boston Red Sox designated veteran catcher A.J.Pierzynski for assignment. During the break, the Sox, having determined that there was no trade partner to be had for the remainder of Pierzynski's $8.5 million contract, released him.

Roughly a week later, Pierzynski remains eminently available.

At age 37, it's not difficult to see way he's had no takers. As a catch and throw guy behind the plate, Pierzynski has never been all that good, especially in the throwing aspect. As a hitter, he's fallen off tremendously with age. A slash line of .254/.286/.348, Pierzynski's stats with the Sox through 70 games, looks pretty good for Drew Butera, but it won't cut it for a below-average defender.

It's a pretty good bet that Pierzynski's days as a No. 1 catcher are past. And  his reputation as a jerk works against him if he's interested in hanging around as a backup.

Still, the Twins were interested enough in a reunion with Pierzynski to offer him a two-year contract last winter (he instead took Boston's one-year deal because he saw an opportunity to chase another ring). Perhaps they've changed their evaluation of him. But I can imagine them deciding that he's an upgrade over Eric Fryer as a backup to Kurt Suzuki -- or even, should they trade Suzuki, deciding to deploy Pierzynski as their main catcher.

Either way, I suspect Minnesota represents Pierzynski's best chance of continuing his playing career. I think it's more likely that he'll be behind the microphone than behind the plate.

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