A.J. Pierzynski and the Marlins have “mutual interest”

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According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post “there is mutual interest between the Marlins and A.J. Pierzynski, but he might be too expensive for Florida.”

Capozzi cites the $6.75 million Pierzynski made this season, but in reality there’s zero chance of him costing that much as a free agent in 2011. Pierzynski is 34 years old and coming off the worst season of his career, hitting .270 with a .300 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage for a .688 OPS after 10 straight years topping .700.

Toss in Ramon Hernandez re-signing with the Reds yesterday for one season and $3 million after having a significantly better year than Pierzynski and the market has pretty much been set for the veteran catcher. Even the penny pinching Marlins will be able to afford him, but the bigger issue is that Pierzynski is a Type A free agent.

Because the Marlins have the 14th pick in next year’s draft and the top 15 picks are protected from being free agent compensation they would instead send the White Sox their second-round pick for signing Pierzynski, but even that is a pretty steep price to pay for a mediocre 34-year-old catcher. Of course, that assumes the White Sox will offer Pierzynski arbitration by the November 23 deadline, which is far from a sure thing because he could simply accept the offer and force Chicago into a one-year deal for at least $6 million.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.