Aug 14, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski (12) looks on from the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. The White Sox beat the Blue Jays 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Signing A.J. Pierzynski the wrong move for the Rangers

When I hear people discuss the possibility of the Rangers signing veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski, I cringe.

Though Pierzynski is coming off arguably the best season of his 15-year career, he is known as one of the villains of the MLB.

Sep 30, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski (12) reacts to striking out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning at U.S. Cellular Field. The Rays beat the White Sox 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

First we need to separate the MLB bad boys into two categories: those hated by opponents’ players and fans and those hated by opponents’ and his own players and fans.

Last season, according to “USA Today,” Pierzynski was voted the “most hated player” in baseball in a Men’s Journal survey of 100 MLB players.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and free agent outfielder/first baseman (possibly future-Ranger) Nick Swisher – who finished second and third in the poll, respectively – fall into the prior category. Their opponents may love to hate them, but they’re good clubhouse guys and good team players.

Pierzynski belongs to the category of those who are just flat out disliked by everyone, except maybe his hometown fans. He received 34 percent of the votes in the survey and had a tiff with Rangers manager Ron Washington and free agent catcher Mike Napoli last season.

When Washington was selecting his 2012 All-Star roster, he selected the Twins’ Joe Mauer and the players selected Oriole backstop Matt Wieters to fill the catching spots after Napoli was selected by fans.

Albeit, Napoli did not deserve the All-Star nod – he was batting a less-than-spectacular .238 at the time -, but Pierzynski seemed to take a special displeasure towards it.

According to a tweet by CBS Sports writer Jon Heyman, Heyman was consoling Pierzynski about the All-Star snub and mentioned that Napoli was a good hitter.

Pierzynski responded with, “yeah, if you consider .230 good,” according to the tweet.

It didn’t end there. Washington told reporters that he felt bad for snubbing Pierzynski.

To that, Pierzynski said, “If he felt that bad he would have put me on the team. He had an opportunity to and he didn’t do it. Obviously, he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn’t feel that bad.”

All that aside, Pierzynski is coming off an excellent season. He batted .278, had a WAR of 3.4 and posted career highs in home runs (27), runs (68), RBI (77), SLG (.501) and wRC+ (118). But I don’t think those numbers will repeat in 2013. Personally, I think Pierzynski was just trying harder to produce because he knew he was in a contract season.

Signing Napoli and working out a deal with Geovany Soto would be the Rangers’ best option. If they can’t get Napoli, it would be wise for them to pursue a catcher from the trade market – whether that be Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway of the Red Sox or J.P. Arencibia, John Buck or 23-year-old prospect Travis d’Arnaud of the Blue Jays – rather than pursue Pierzynski.

The Rangers’ clubhouse is regarded by many as one of the best in the Majors, and there is no reason to risk ruining that on a bad clubhouse guy like Pierzynski.

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Tags: Aj Pierzynski Hot Stove Rangers Texas Rangers

  • barbarino2000

    DUDE. Don’t believe the negative hype! Trust me. Its so out of whack.

    When I heard the Sox were getting AJ back in 2005(?), I was bummed. I heard those stories too. But he’s the farthest thing from a jerk. An antagonizer? Sometimes, sure. But never in a malicious way. AJ is a guy you want to go to battle with. He shows up. He busts his butt. He has the highest baseball IQ on the field every night. And if the Sox don’t keep him, the entire fanbase will really be bummed out. That should tell you something.

    So…hopefully this paints a better picture. A couple incidents many years ago somehow forever lumped him in with the Jeff Kents, Barry Bonds, Albert Belles, etc.

    He had a great offensive year for a catcher last year. He works hard at his craft. And he was pi$$ed that Washington took a less-deserving guy. There is NOTHING inaccurate about his comments. He should have been in the All-Star game. He loves this sport, and wants to be a part of that kind of stuff.

    I’m a hardcore diehard Sox fan. I know a “problem guy” when I see one, because we’ve had a few over the years. AJ is not even close to what his reputation leads you to believe. He’s an acquired taste, but that’s why the fans here love him. Look in the stands and see how many people wear his jersey.

    • Eric Reining

      And he was pi$$ed that Washington took a less-deserving guy. There is NOTHING inaccurate about his comments. He should have been in the All-Star game. He loves this sport, and wants to be a part of that kind of stuff.

      Maybe A.J. was right, but who really gets that bent out of shape about not being an All Star? It’s not like he’s never made it to the All Star game before, and when he has been there, he puts on his little smirk when the fans boo him. He enjoys playing the character everyone sees him as.

      Also, choosing the reserves is the manager’s prerogative. The game is an exhibition, after all. His comments were classless, and really don’t do anything to reverse the perception he’s created for himself. It only enhances it.

  • Delores Barton

    So everyone dislikes AJ? The White Sox fans love him and really, really want him back. Fans cheer him at the games as a fan favorite (and we only have a couple of them left), and he is particularly popular with women fans. Last year a couple of Chicago sports radio station hosts were talking about how fans feel about various sports stars, and one host said that the sports star that can do no wrong in the eyes of the Chicago fans was AJ. He has many former and present baseball players as good friends. Yes, if a player isn’t trying hard enough or keeps doing something wrong or a pitcher should come out, he might just say so. With him, it’s all about winning. But he is always hardest on himself and freely admits it when he should have done something better. If anyone who you listed belongs in the universally hated category that you mentioned–and probably no one does–it would more likely be Swisher, as when he was with the White Sox, the manager hated him, some of the front office didn’t like him, some players were annoyed by him, and most of the fans didn’t care when he was traded and only was bummed out because the Sox didn’t get any good players for him in their haste to get rid of him. A personality like AJ probably doesn’t fit well on every team (the Giants was a bad fit for him), but then not everyone is a good fit for every team. You are right about one thing: the Rangers shouldn’t sign him–the White Sox should.

    • Tyler Owens

      Thanks for your reply. Good to get an inside perspective from Sox fans in on the site.

  • Adela Blaszczak

    Pierzynski has the great misfortune of having the most obvious Polish surname in MLB. Therefore, he is most despised by the media establishment.PERIOD. Show me just one person who can write or speak freely today? They are all beholden to the new world criminal order.The above nonsense by Tyler Owens is nothing more than sophomoric racist reporting. Truthfully, that is all there is to it.

    • Tyler Owens

      Okay, I can understand how you can disagree with the article, but I don’t really know where you go racist from…?

    • Eric Reining

      I don’t think Tyler made any mention of racism; he was just explaining the facts as he sees them. Sure, maybe A.J. isn’t as bad as the national media tries to portray him, but if a bunch of people within the industry are saying the same things about one guy, it doesn’t mean the collective is crazy or has a vendetta against the guy, certainly not for being Polish.

      • Tyler Owens

        I mean nor did I even know he was Polish…thanks for the info though Adela.

  • 10thMountainFire

    Wow. You clearly know nothing about AJ Pierzynski. This ‘article’ appears to have been written by an 8th grader.