A.J. Pierzynski approaching rare territory for catchers

15 Comments

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.

The Braves send Dansby Swanson to Triple-A

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Atlanta Braves have optioned shortstop Dansby Swanson to Triple-A Gwinnett.

It was a move that was a long time coming. It was probably overdue. Swanson had been relegated to a backup role since the All-Star break, and him neither (a) contributing to the club; or (b) getting regular work in order to develop as a player, was the least optimal of situations.

Swanson has had a down, momentarily up, and then down again season. He batted .156 in April and .216 in May. He rebounded in June, batting .306, but his July has been a nightmare in which he has gone 6-for-48 with only five walks. He has started just six of the Braves 13 games since the All-Star break, losing time to Johan Camargo.

Swanson, 23, jumped from Double-A to the big club in August of last year and hit .302 with an .803 OPS over 38 games. That earned him the shortstop job heading into 2017, but he’s obviously in need of either more seasoning or, at the very least, some time to clear his head, because he’s not getting the job done.

Nationals place Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list

Getty Images
1 Comment

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. He said he had trouble getting loose and had some stiffness in his forearm. Two days ago Dusty Baker said that expected Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies.

Nope. Not happening.Today the Nationals placed Strasburg on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow nerve impingement.

Not that they expect it to be a long stay. The plan is for him to miss one start, rest up and come back. Erick Fedde will be promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to pitch in Strasburg’s place on Saturday against the Rockies.

Optimistically, this is a situation in which, if the Nats were in a tight race, Strasburg would try to gut it out, but since they’re not, they can afford to be cautious with him. Obviously time will tell if such optimism is warranted.