Thursday, December 20, 2012
Rangers find short-term catching solution
By Richard Durrett
The acquisition of A.J. Pierzynski, pending a physical, means the Rangers have addressed one of their biggest needs this offseason: catcher.
How the time between Geovany Soto and Pierzynski is divided is up to manager Ron Washington. But when he's not catching, Pierzynski could be the designated hitter depending on the lineup that day.
The Rangers needed a left-handed hitter and one, preferably, with some power. Pierzynski satisfies both of those needs. He's coming off a career-high 27 homers and 77 RBIs. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels acknowledged during the offseason that the club might not be able to get its long-term catching situation resolved. Instead, they get two catchers on short-term deals and can look at the market again next winter.
As a group, the Rangers' catchers hit .228 in 2012, which was eighth in the American League. That had a .299 average in 2011, which was No. 1 in the league. The 2012 catchers included Mike Napoli, who agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox at the Winter Meetings, but the deal has not been finalized. He started the season as the No. 1 catcher with Yorvit Torrealba backing him up. But the Rangers acquired Soto at the trade deadline and placed Torrealba on waivers.
I'm not concerned about Pierzynski in the clubhouse. You can look at it two ways, I guess. On the one hand, you could be worried that his brash style and reputation isn't what a great clubhouse needs. But I don't look at it that way. I go the other way and think that this club has a strong group in there and Pierzynski is a competitor. He's playing for a contender and I think he'll do his part to help. His teammates won't have a problem with that and his style won't alter the room to the point that it's detrimental, in my opinion.
This is a good move for the Rangers. In a thin catching market, they get one of the top available pieces out there. He's a veteran with postseason experience too, helping the White Sox win the 2005 World Series as the starting catcher. In 30 playoff games, Pierzynski is hitting .300 with five homers, 17 RBIs and a .892 OPS.