January 7, 2005

Sleeping With the Enemy

The Twins picked A.J. Pierzynski in the third round of the 1994 draft. After three short stints with the team from 1998-2000, he eventually became Minnesota's starting catcher, hitting .289/.322/.441 in 114 games in 2001. Last offseason, after 430 games with the team spread over six seasons, Pierzynski was traded to the Giants for a package of players that included Joe Nathan. After one disappointing season with San Francisco in which he hit just .272/.319/.410 in 131 games, Pierzynski was cut loose and became a free agent. And yesterday, in what is quite a strange and amusing turn of events, he signed with the Chicago White Sox for one year and $2.25 million.

In his time with the Twins, Pierzynski could be counted on to be two things. One was a consistent, productive, durable catcher. The other was a guy who got on the opponents' nerves. It was really quite a remarkable skill set -- catch a thousand innings, hit .300 with 45 extra-base hits, and piss off just about everyone you come in contact with. The funny thing about all of this is that front and center on the list of other teams that disliked Pierzynski were the White Sox.

Pretend you had a longtime girlfriend who you thought was wonderful in every way, but all of your friends kept telling you she was a horrible person. Your best friend had some particularly nasty things to say about her. Finally, after six years with her, you part ways. Then, about a year later, you stop by your best friend's house uninvited one night and who's there walking around in nothing but socks and one of his dress shirts? That same ex-girlfriend whose guts he hated for six years. That's sort of what this Pierzynski thing is like.

Watching Pierzynski play for the White Sox and spend each day in Chicago's clubhouse for a year should be incredibly entertaining for Twins fans, so on one hand this is a positive. On the other hand, the White Sox were looking at a catching combo of Ben Davis and Jamie Burke before yesterday and Pierzynski, for all his faults, is still a damn good player. The enemy just got stronger, assuming of course the White Sox players Pierzynski pissed off over the years don't decide to murder him in his sleep one night in the team hotel.

Some reading for the weekend ...

  • Over at BaseballAmerica.com, Alan Schwarz moderated a stats vs. scouting discussion with Cubs assistant GM Gary Hughes, Angels scouting director Eddie Bane, Baseball Prospectus writer Gary Huckabay, and Red Sox consultant/DIPS creator Voros McCracken. After reading the lengthy transcript I have about a million thoughts, but rather than ramble on about them, I'll just let you read it for yourself.

    UPDATE: After you've read it, check out the ongoing discussion of the roundtable at Baseball Think Factory and USSMariner.

  • Fellow Bert Blyleven supporter Jim Caple wrote up an interesting column for ESPN.com's Page 2 comparing the careers of Blyleven and Sandy Koufax.
  • His "Wading into the Hall" and "Hall of Fame ballot soap box" columns from this week were, without question, Bill Simmons at his worst. While reading them, I felt like what I imagine it must have been like for longtime Giants fans to watch Willie Mays flail away at the plate with the '73 Mets. I kept waiting for a Rocky V reference or a paragraph devoted to The White Shadow, but all I got was Simmons failing miserably at baseball analysis. Because I like Simmons so much (and because I'd want someone to do the same for me), I'm pretending neither of these columns ever existed.
  • Today at The Hardball Times:

    - National Attention: The Expos' 35-Year Journey to Washington D.C. (Part 2) (by Brian Borawski)

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