Friday, January 07, 2005

Nothing to lose with Pierzynski signing

The Sox had two very visible holes left to fill, and recently filled the bigger of the two by inking A.J. Pierzynski to a 1-year, $2.25 million contract.

Pierzynski made $3.5 million last year for the Giants and hit .272 with a .319 OBP and a .410 slugging percentage. All three of those marks were the worst the now 28-year-old catcher has had in the past five years, the last four as a full-time player.

With a career line of .294/.336/.438 in 1,899 at-bats, the former Twin is an obvious upgrade on incumbent Ben Davis (.237/.257/.347 in 1,512 ABs) and Jamie Burke (.331/.379/.398 in 133 ABs).

It’s hard to say why Pierzynski didn’t get more play once he hit the free agent market, but most are chalking it up to character issues. Supposedly, he was disinterested in playing defense or studying film (other than Twins games on TV) during his season by the Bay.

Will that hurt the Sox? Well, probably not as much as playing with a big gaping hole in the lineup would.

Moreover, the Sox got a catcher for relatively cheap. This contract pales in comparison to the 4 years and $40 million dollars the Red Sox gave Jason Varitek. Varitek comes with a better defensive reputation, as well as high marks for leadership, etc. He’s also comes without A.J.’s baggage. But he’s also going to be 33 next year.

The Sox will get Pierzynski’s age-28 season to see if he really is a problem child. The upside is he hits like he did from 2001-03 – which is to say very well. The downside is he plays like he did last year, which is still better than the guys we have, and is a malcontent. In which case, the Sox can trade him or release him, and will still have the same catching situation as they did before signing him.

Very good gamble by GM Kenny Williams.

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