Just one year ago, almost exactly, A.J. Pierzynski was non-tendered by the San Francisco Giants. The main reason for his release was not because of his performance, but because of his relationship with teammates. There was even a report after he was released that he kneed the San Francisco trainer in the groin.
I never believed the reports. Bruce Jenkins seemed to have an axe to grind there, and sharpened it repeatedly as soon as he knew A.J. would no longer be in the Giants clubhouse. -- AJ had already become the beat writers' whipping boy because of a report that he wouldn't leave a card game to help review the opposing hitters with his battery-mate. -- It would seem that would be the time to release the kneeing incedent. Instead, Jenkins' report in January, just after Pierzynski signed with the Sox, came off as superfluous and spiteful.
Since signing with the White Sox, Pierzyski has been the perfect teammate. He's become one of the many leaders on the team, and played at least a small part in the pitching staff's success in '05. He had a key part in numerous victories in the White Sox World Series run, including a strikeout that will go down in ALCS history, and the Walk-off in June that indicated to many that this team was something special. His overall production was down in '05, but he should be a good candidat to return to near his career average numbers in the future. All of which made his signing a no-brainer.
Even though he is somewhat in the same boat as Jon Garland, (one year reamaining before he reaches free-agenct) there isn't quite the market for above average catchers that there is for above average pitchers. Ramon Hernandez, the most comparable free-agent catcher of the off-season, recieved a deal fairly similar to the one AJ signed earlier today. The deal will pay Pierzynski $4M in '06 and 5.5M in each of the final two years of the contract.
When he was signed last season, I was a little bit burnt out on blogging, so I don't have a post that I can link to, but thanks to the power of Google, I found this quote:
I think AJ may be becoming one of my favorite White Sox. I've left one of my jerseys blank for an extended period of time -- I'm working on about a year and a half now -- but I may be headed to get P-I-E-R-Z-Y-N-S-K-I-1-2 on the back after the holidays.
It must have something to do with the holidays, because I'm slipping into the same pattern as last year. I have been spending the same amount of time as I usually do blogging here, but I'm having trouble seeing a post all the way through to the finish. There are a few conversational pieces I've got partially finished behind the scenes here, I just need to find the right time, the right mood even, for me to put the finishing touches on them. So for that, I apologize. But be on the lookout for some good stuff in the near future.
Update [2005-12-20 2:41:5 by The Cheat]: THT does their new Daily Graphing feature on AJ.