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Pierzynski: That Works

Yesterday's signing of A.J. Pierzynski (aka the other news from yesterday) to catch for the Sox next year is a very strong decision.  While I'm not really buying the "bridge" description, it was a very good move.

A.J. is nearly as good a hitter as Salty and a superior catcher at less money and fewer years.  Salty has more power - fewer homers last year but far more doubles and is on the upward slope of his career - but almost double the strikeouts.  I know we are not supposed to care about that anymore, but do you think that if Salty had been grounding and flying out in the playoffs, and had played better D, that he would have sat at the end?

I have always been a huge booster of Salty.  In fact, I thought his signing was the most important signing for the Sox this offseason.  That was in large part because I though he was the second best catcher on the market (after McCann) and the drop off after him was large and would require overpaying (see Carlos Ruiz).  But AJ fits nicely into the Sox plans by not costing too much and not committing long term to an aging catcher (e.g any proven big league catcher really).

The reason why I was not interested in AJ before was his bad reputation as a person.  As we all know, a big part of this Sox team's success was it's character and it was in especially stark contract to the teams that proceeded it - teams which failed when they should have succeeded, while this team succeeded when logic made failure seem pretty darn possible.

But, I am cautiously optimistic about AJ as a teammate.  I don't think the front office is dumb enough to risk blowing up the good will on - and toward - this team for this signing if they weren't sure he'd fit in.  It sounds from reports I've read that he's a highly competitive, scrappy, pushy, talkative player.  Honestly, he sounds kind of like Pedroia - perhaps with Manning-esque facial expressions.  Between Peddy, Ortiz, Ross, Gomes, and Lackey, I don't think the Sox will lack for players willing to tell AJ to shut up if they need to.  And John Farrell is not going to let that happen as Francona's laisez faire approach or Bobby V's fight-fire-with-gas approach would have.

So, good signing.  But...

I don't trust the bridge approach for catchers when they are not named Mauer or Weiters.  Christian Vazquez appears to be a great defender and an iffy hitter at Double A.  Blake Swihart is a solid hitter and athlete learning to play the hardest position in the sport.  I see why this should work, but I feel that neither will be ready to start in 2015. If that's the case, let's chat again next year.

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