A.J. Pierzynski

A.J. Pierzynski approaching rare territory for catchers

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Despite his remarkable consistency and durability, A.J. Pierzynski was unable to secure a multiyear deal again this winter. After spending 2013 with the Rangers, he’s joining the Red Sox on another one-year pact.

Working against Pierzynski is his age and throwing arm. Pierzynski turns 37 later this month, and he’s never been great at gunning down would-be basestealers. However, age seems to have hardly taken any toll on his game so far, and the arm alone is just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to grading catchers.

That’s not to say Pierzynski is great. He’s a stopgap at this point in his career. But he really is on an amazing run. 2013 was his 13th straight season with 110 games caught and the 12th in a row in which he’s started that many. Despite not establishing himself until age 24, Pierzynski is up to 19th all-time in games caught with 1,678. He’ll pass Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Ray Schalk and Johnny Bench on the list in 2014.

He’ll also be entering rarefied air if he can keep this 110-game streak going. Here’s the list of guys who caught 110 games at 37 or older:

37 – Brad Ausmus, Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez, Benito Santiago, Ernie Whitt
38 – Brad Ausmus, Bob Boone, Fred Jacklitsch
39 – Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk
40 – Bob Boone
41 – Bob Boone
42 – Carlton Fisk

Since he won’t start against many left-handers,  Pierzynski will probably need to stay completely healthy to get to 110 again. At 37, that’s not as sure of a bet as it used to be. However, he’s been proving doubters wrong for a decade now.

Someone stole Jose Fernandez’s high school jersey after a vigil

MIAMI, FL - JULY 09:  Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park on July 9, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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People are the absolute worst sometimes. The latest example: someone stole one of Jose Fernandez’s high school jerseys, which had been displayed in his old high school’s dugout for a vigil last night.

That report comes from Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times who covered the vigil at Alonso High School in Tampa yesterday. Her story of the vigil is here. Today she has been tweeting about the theft of the jersey. She spoke to Alonso High school’s principal who, in a bit of understatement, called the theft the “lowest of the low.”

The high school had one more Fernandez jersey remaining and has put it on display in the school. In the meantime, spread this story far and wide so that whatever vulture who stole it can’t sell it.

 

What Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher would you ask to pitch today?

Mike Mussina
Associated Press
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In an earlier post I made a joke about the Indians starting Dennis Martinez if forced to play a meaningless (for them) game on Monday against the Tigers. On Twitter, one of my followers, Ray Fink, asked a great question: If you had to hand the ball to a Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher to give you three innings, who would it be?

The Hall of Fame-eligible part gets rid of the recently-retired ringers, requiring a guy who has been off the scene for at least five years, ensuring that there’s a good bit of rust. I love questions like these.

My immediate answer was Mike Mussina. My thinking being that of all of the great pitchers fitting these parameters, he’s the most likely to have stayed in good shape. I mean, Greg Maddux probably still has the best pitching IQ on the planet, but he’s let himself go a bit, right? Mussina strikes me as a guy who still wakes up and does crunches and stuff.

If you extend it to December, however, you may get a better answer, because that’s when Tim Wakefield becomes eligible for the Hall. I realize a knuckleball requires practice to maintain the right touch and subtlety to the delivery, but it also requires the least raw physical effort. Jim Bouton went well more than five years without throwing his less-than-Wakefield-quality knuckler and was still able to make a comeback. I think Tim could be passable.

Then there’s Roger Clemens. I didn’t see his numbers for that National Baseball Congress tourney this summer and I realize he’s getting a bit thick around the middle, but I’m sure he can still bring it enough to not embarrass himself. Beyond the frosted tips, anyway.

So: who is your Space Cowboys-style reclamation project? Who is the old legend you dust off for one last job?