A pennant contender somewhere should hurry up and hire A.J. Pierzynski. There are a couple of months left in the 2014 season and the recently-released catcher can help someone make the playoffs.
The Boston Red Sox just dumped him and his one-year, $8.25-million contract because they are in last place, they have a rookie they want to give experience to and because A.J. wasn’t hitting as well as they wanted him to when they signed him.
Pierzynski is 37 and that’s pretty much 57 in catcher years, but he should have a couple of good months left in him before he retires to a broadcast booth somewhere. He is the type of feisty guy who responds to a challenge and can light a fire under teammates – and that doesn’t mean a joking hot foot. He’s got attitude and spark.
When the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005 for the first time since 1917, Pierzynski was a cornerstone of the lineup. He stood up for his teammates, he blocked the plate from charging runners as if the crown jewels lay on the other side, and he produced clutch hits.
The man MLB fans love to hate
Put him a situation like that again, even if it is only for half a season and he should thrive. To some, Pierzynski is an acquired taste. Opposing fans can’t stand him, but fans of his team love him. He is of the hardy catcher mold who is a warrior on the field. He was not as popular with the Minnesota Twins as he was with the White Sox – apparently occasionally speaking out of turn.
But he was a Man in Chicago. Once the Red Sox designated Pierzynski for assignment last week – officially releasing him Wednesday – gossip and sniping percolated to the surface from the Boston clubhouse, words not complimentary to him.
That is childish and especially when the words are issued anonymously, particularly silly as an attack coming from a super-underachieving team. That’s shades of two years ago when Boston pitchers were spending time snacking on chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse while their teammates were on the field trying to win ballgames. I Thought that stuff had been dispensed with when new manager John Farrell took over.
One last team
Nonetheless, that’s background noise. Pierzynski is a 17-year major leaguer with a lifetime .282 average. In 72 games this year he has four homers and 31 RBIs and a .254 average. Great? No. But he could be a pinch-hitter, a designated hitter, and back-up catcher for the right time in the right circumstances before the season progresses much further.
You can bet A.J. Pierzynski would like to go out with one more World Series appearance.