It didn’t come as a surprise to many today when the news came down that AJ Pierzynski would be designated for assignment making way for Christian Vazquez to join the big club. The Red Sox have lost seven of their last eight games dropping them to 39-51, 10.5 games back and dead last in the AL East. There is no reason to have a 37 year old catcher on a one year deal on your squad who is hitting .254 with 31 RBI and only 4 HR – especially when you have a prospect the likes of Vazquez in the wings.
I refuse, however, to admit that Ben Cherington and front office on Yawkey Way made a bad decision in signing Pierzynski in the first place. It made sense. Clearly, they had Vazquez in mind when they were looking for a one year replacement for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Not too many free agents were going to come in for such a short deal.
If you look at the free agent catchers from a year ago, there aren’t many standouts. Does John Buck, Jose Molina or Wil Nieves really excite you? Not me. Sure Dioner Navarro was a solid signing for the Blue Jays when he inked a two year/eight million dollar deal, but one could certainly argue that Pierzynski was a better fit for his bat. Brian McCann was also another possibility that had Sox fans excited, yet once again jilted when the Yankees signed him. It turns out McCann has been bust in New York after signing for five years and 85 million dollars – an outrageous price for a catcher in this day and age.
That finally brings us to the number one candidate that fans keep going back to – keeping Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The obvious issue here is that he was not going to settle for a one year deal. In fact, I highly doubt he would have taken a two year deal. This was Salty’s one chance to “cash in” as much as he possible could. He ended up doing pretty well for himself getting a three year deal worth 21 million dollars in Miami. There is no way that Boston was going to make that kind of commitment. Also, let’s not forget that Saltalamacchia was benched in the height of the Red Sox magical playoff run last season for David Ross, which in my opinion, left a very bad taste in Salty’s mouth. Also, have you checked out his stats lately – he’s having a worse season than Pierzynski and he’s in the NL! He’s hitting .225 with 27 RBI and is keeping up his usual strikeout pace with a cool 79.
Granted, AJ Pierzynski did not hit like the Red Sox thought he would. He did not bring the most positive, veteran presence into the clubhouse. His penchant for swinging at the first pitch no matter how many batters before him had just previously walked was maddening. But let’s not rewrite history. The signing was a logical one at the time – a left-handed, solid hitting, veteran catcher who was willing to come in for one year to try to win. It just didn’t work out, and now we can look ahead to the future with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.