Roche: Why The A.J. Pierzynski Signing Makes Sense For Red Sox
BOSTON (CBS) — With our colleague Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com breaking the news that the Red Sox have agreed to terms with free-agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, here are a few thoughts:
–Ben Cherington wanted to sign someone to pair with David Ross for one or two years. I believe Carlos Ruiz was the team’s first choice, but he got a third year from Philadelphia. That was a deal breaker.
–I also think the Sox had interest in Brian McCann, with David Ross being a big influence. However, years and money got in the way.
–I think the Sox would have welcomed back Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but on their terms (two years). I also think they knew that he would get more than a two-year deal (and deservedly so) as he hit free agency.
–As for Pierzynski, he can still hit for power, although he’ll be 37 next season. Last year with Texas, he hit .272 with an on-base percentage of .297 and a slugging percentage of .425. You would hope his OBP goes up, as he’s a career .322 guy.
–Pierzynski also has a reputation of perhaps being a bad guy. I asked a member of the Sox staff about him and he said the team has no problems with him coming in here because:
1. The veteran leadership in the clubhouse.
2. A one-year deal would make it easier if there ever was a problem.
3. Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves was with Pierzynski in Chicago and I would think he would have spoken up if there was a possibility of any trouble.
–Keep in mind, the Red Sox love their catching prospects and they feel that they are going to be ready sooner rather than later. Christian Vazquez hit .289 with a .771 OPS and threw out an amazing 47 percent of would-be base stealers on the Double-A level last season and 21-year-old switch-hitting Blake Swihart hit .298 with a .794 OPS while throwing out 42 percent of attempting base stealers last season a High-A Salem. You would think one of these two would be in Boston within the next few years.
–So, when you look at this deal it makes perfect sense for Boston. Putting Pierzynski’s bat in the lower half of the Sox order should work out well, especially with lefty Stephen Drew on his way out. He should fit with David Ross and the staff in most ways, too. And again, it’s not a long-term deal, thereby staying in line with what Ben wants as he eventually incorporates youth into the big league club.
Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.
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