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.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.