Rumor: Yankees worried about A.J. Pierzynski’s defense

The Yankees need a catcher and one of the very few available out there is long time White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, but the two have not had serious talks yet. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Yankees are hesitant because they only view him as an average defender.

Pierzynski is certainly a questionable fielder, not a liability, but questionable. He doesn’t have a strong arm, catching just 24 percent of runners in his career, and he also racks up quite a bit of throwing errors each year so it’s not like he makes up for it with accuracy. He’s also slow moving which means bunts often turn into hits. He is a good pitch framer though, not Russell Martin good, but slightly above average where he will save the pitching staff a couple of runs per year.

The thing is though, the Yankees current options are not especially attractive either. Francisco Cervelli throws out just 20 percent of runners and makes even more throwing errors. Base runners tend to take extra bases on Cervelli, via wild pitches, passed balls, and stolen bases, at a greater rate than Pierzynski does.

Chris Stewart is better than both catchers at every aspect on defense, but without designated fielders he puts a lot of strain on the lineup. Pierzynski is coming off a year with a 118 OPS+ and has a 96 OPS+ throughout his career, Cervelli has a 84 OPS+ in his career, but Stewart is way below both of those at a 61 OPS+ for his career. If defense is the goal, he’s unquestionably your man, but the Yankees lineup is already going to be weaker next season — do they really want to make it worse by using Stewart regularly?

Considering Pierzynski is a better hitter and defender than Cervelli, unless the Yankees are prepared to settle for a horrible hitting catcher, then they should get over their concerns and begin serious negotiations. That is unless he’s looking for a multi-year deal which we know by now is a non-starter for them.

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10 Responses to Rumor: Yankees worried about A.J. Pierzynski’s defense

  1. Tanned Tom says:

    I'm amazed that the catcher situation is so messed up. Cervelli is not MLB material for the reasons you mentioned, and should probably be traded. Pierzynski is an unacceptable clubhouse cancer, and has worn out his welcome everywhere he's been. Stewart impressed me with his defense last year so that makes him my choice. If a catcher can hit it's gravy. Give Stewart the starting nod, and use one of the kids as backup.

    • Vince says:

      As a life long Sox fan I can tell you AJ has not worn out his welcome in Chicago. He's been a great part of the team, and has done a terrific job with our young pitchers over the years. It's once again White Sox poor excuse for upper management that even has him out there looking. Any long time Sox fan can tell you it's never about the team always $$$$$

      • Erica says:

        It's always about the cheap way out. It's heartbreaking being a fan of a team that has a budget and can't buy their way into the post season every year.

    • Erica says:

      Before making comments about how a clubhouse feels about a player you might want to do just a bit of research first! Not only has Pierzynski not worn out his welcome in Chicago, but if he departs he will be dearly missed by all associated with the White Sox. I just pray that the Yankees take your advice and stick with Stewart because I can't imagine watching a fabulous player such as A.J. Pierzynski play for the most arrogant and ignorant fan base in baseball.

      • Tanned Tom says:

        A bit of research first? I recall reading quite a few posts, an article in SI, articles on ESPN and FOX, an article in Rolling Stone. All of which named him as least popular teammate, biggest jerk, etc. Plus there is the well known story of him kicking his own trainer in the nuts. Perhaps you ought to do some research.
        Now maybe he's changed his ways in Chicago and the whole town will get weepy when he leaves, though it makes me wonder why they're letting him go if they're so in love with him.
        In any case I hope the NYY do not sign a below average defensive catcher who is too old and with a questionable clubhouse attitude.
        Fabulous? You can keep him. Ignorant fan base? There are certainly many of those, but please don't judge all of us by the actions of a few.

  2. Reggie44 says:

    Should have signed Martin would not be having the conversation.

  3. fredverd says:

    Romine or even Sanchez (on-the-job-training) probably won't come close to 21 homers, but hitting .211 shouldn't be hard to surpass. As a result, having men on base, for a change, should help the rest of the lineup. And the cost of these in-house fixes should help too!

    • Mike Sommer says:

      Sanchez has not even played 50 games above the level of Low A. None in AA yet.

      • FishArt says:

        Anybody that knows baseball, and the White Sox knows that AJ is a valuable asset to their team. He's a fierce competitor that gets a bad rap (He's calmed down through the years). His defensive abilities are solid. His poor rating for throw outs has much to do with the young pitching staff. Biggest reasons to keep him are he is indeed well liked in Chicago. He is durable as heck and plays a lot of games. And his bat – left bat was stellar this past year (Should have played in the All Star game). Most importantly though is his competitiveness. He wants to win.