Published on December 1st, 2013 | by Thompson0
Why AJ Pierzynski is a Good Target for the Twins
The Minnesota Twins haven’t had an emotional leader since Pierzynski was traded after the 2003 season. In fact, the team looks about as alive as Mike Pelfrey does on the mound (as Gleeman correctly commented). Ron Gardenhire would probably speak monotone after winning a World Series. Joe Mauer is a businessman on the field. Justin Morneau wasn’t much better. AJ could be the heart transplant this team so desperately needs.
I have to admit, I’ve booed Pierzynski every time I’ve seen him in Minnesota, but mostly because I wanted him back. Frankly, I would have liked to see Mauer at third, Morneau at first, and Pierzynski behind the plate last season. Taking Mauer’s arm out of the game by playing him at first makes no sense to me. Also, Morneau would be a cheap signing and AJ is a year-to-year guy.
Speaking of year-to-year, I don’t see anyone signing Pierzynski for more than one guaranteed year with a team or vesting option for a second. Playing next season at age 37, AJ should expect a decrease from the $7.5 million deal he got from Texas last year due to his inability to throw runners out.
Terry Ryan shouldn’t sign him for more than $6 million, and I’d offer a team option in case Josmil Pinto struggles with injury. I doubt he’ll struggle in AAA, but his numbers last season are too small a sample size and sophomore MLB players tend to experience a bit of a drop in batting as pitchers figure them out.
Ryan realizes MLB is an entertainment industry, and AJ is entertaining. He’s also an incredibly smart ballplayer. His drawbacks are his arm and inability to take a walk. His power numbers will also decline at Target Field, but he is durable, having played more than 125 games every season since 2001.
Ryan could decide to back off Pierzynski and go with Ryan Doumit and Pinto behind the plate, but Doumit caught just 20% of runners stealing compared to AJ’s 33% last year, which is why I think he’s leaning toward playing Doumit in right field since Chris Parmelee has been absolutely anemic with the bat the past two years, despite his good play in right field (2 errors in 113 chances last season).
Pierzynski is a great game-calling catcher, and should be a good coach on the field for some of our young starters. He’s not Joe Mauer, but he may strike a fire under a few of their asses.
So, here’s who’d I’d like to see toss to AJ in 2014:
- Johan Santana
- Ricky Nolasco
- Phil Hughes
- Kevin Correia
- Samuel Deduno/Andrew Albers
- (Yes, six starters) Scott Diamond/Vance Worley
I like the idea of six starters because I think all of them will benefit from an extra day off, especially Santana, Hughes, Correia, Deduno, and Worley. Deduno is probably a lock for the rotation unless he isn’t healthy. I like what I saw from Albers last season but I expect him to start the season at AAA. The sixth spot will go to someone who probably shouldn’t make the team, but is out of options.
So here’s the lineup I’d like to see Ryan put together:
- Brian Dozier (2B)
- Joe Mauer (1B)
- AJ Pierzynski (C)
- Josh Willingham (DH)
- Oswaldo Arcia (LF)
- Trevor Plouffe (3B)
- Ryan Doumit (RF)
- Alex Presley (CF)
- Pedro Florimon (SS)