I can understand why Yankee fans would be wary to sign anyone who goes by the name "A.J." but the ancient New Yorkers need to add the soon-to-be 36-year old A.J. Pierzynski as their catcher for the next couple of seasons.
Here are some reasons...
Let's start with the fact Pierzynski is a horse. Since 2001, Yadier Molina has caught over 100 games eight times, second among active catchers only to A.J. who has done it for 12 consecutive seasons.
Over the last five seasons, A.J.'s hit .283, only Yaddy at .296 has a better average.
A.J. in his career has thrown out 24% of the baserunners attempting to steal compared to the league average of 28%. This past season, he threw out 26% compared to 25% for the league.
Over the last five seasons, Pierzynski's pitchers had ERAs of 4.17, 4.08, 3.95, 4.04, and last season 4.06. Over the last five seasons, Martin's pitchers had ERAs of 3.63, 3.36, 4.04, 3.70, and last season 4.03, so the Yanks probably will take a bit of hit in that area.
But here's why the Yanks need to sign Pierzynski and he will be a huge step-up over Martin: Martin is righty and A.J. has a left-handed swing made for the Yankee Stadium short right field porch and jetstream.
Take a look at the location of Pierzynski's 2012 hits
Of Pierzynski's 27 homers, 23 were to right and right center
Here are the fly balls and liners that Pierzynski pulled for outs last season
Reportedly, Pierzynski's clubhouse presence is "interesting," to say the least. In an article in ESPN, The Magazine, Tim Keown wrote that the catcher loves to win, a characteristic admired in Derek Jeter's clubhouse.
"I don't know what people expect me to be like," he says. "I think the media can decide you're either a bad guy or a good guy, and they can keep pounding it until everyone thinks it's true. I get tired of the crap. Every day you read the newspaper, you have to hope that somebody didn't say something or write something that'll make you have to defend yourself."
Pierzynski is a good-natured bad boy, more mischievous than mean. He consistently worries that his mother, Mary Jane, a loyal subscriber to Google Alerts, will be calling to ask him, yet again, to explain himself. He needles teammates and annoys opponents, and he does it with a sideways grin and a tongue-in-cheek manner that doesn't always translate well into baseball's militant code of ethics. And although he's had problems with teammates in the past, his personality seems to get more appealing the closer you get to it.
Or, in the inimitable words of Ozzie Guillen, "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less."
A.J. seems like a good fit for the Yankees and a great fit for the back pages of the New York tabloids.