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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Just When You Thought It was Safe to Root for the Red Sox Again, They Sign A.J. Pierzynski

You can say goodbye to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, his ridiculously greasy long curly hair, million strikeouts and almost that many blunders behind the plate. That's right, today the Red Sox elected to move on from their former starting catcher (who rightfully lost his spot to David Ross late in the playoffs) who was seeking a long-term deal. Boston agreed to a one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski worth $8.25 million.

My natural reaction to this news (and probably your feelings as well) was to laugh mainly because Pierzynski is one of those guys who has been around MLB forever and seems to be a complete asshole. On the other hand, I felt much the same way about Jonny Gomes when the Red Sox signed him last offseason and how'd that turn out? Keep in mind that Pierzynski's (a two-time All-Star) career (729 runs, 1782 hits, 356 doubles, 172 homers, 800 RBIs) has been much more impressive than the journeyman Gomes, he also won a World Series in 2005 with the White Sox.

At age 36 (turning 37 on Dec. 30) and coming into his 17th MLB season (14th full-time) on his fifth team (Twins, Giants, White Sox, Rangers), Pierzynski has way too many miles on his body to be expected to serve as an everyday catcher. The good news is that you could say the same thing about David Ross and while Pierzynski is a left-handed hitter, Ross bats right-handed. Hello platoon! Also of note is that Boston has some depth at catcher in its farm system with Christian Vasquez projected to be in Pawtucket to start the season and Ryan Lavarnway still kicking around (although he stinks).

Salty had a career year last season but Pierzynski put together a fine year in Texas: in 134 games, he hit .272 with .297 OBP (yuck), .425 SLG, 48 runs, 137 hits, 24 doubles, 17 homers and 70 RBIs. The other thing that A.J. does better besides being a more sound hitter than Jarrod is that he's a better defensive catcher. Granted, that's not saying much since Salty was borderline hopeless behind the plate (but he improved so much!).

By winning the World Series, the Red Sox have made us believers again in terms of trusting GM Ben Cherington's roster moves. When all is said and done, this will probably go down as a nice addition to another playoff team in 2014.

UPDATE 12/3: Salty signed a three-year deal with Miami worth $21 million.

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