The White Sox And A.J. Pierzynski

Not long ago, it seemed unlikely that the White Sox would have room for A.J. Pierzynski after 2010. They had Tyler Flowers, a minor league catcher who ranked among baseball's best prospects. Flowers, 24, was coming off his second consecutive season with a .900 OPS and seemed ready to hit in the majors.

But Flowers has slumped in Triple A this year and Pierzynski has posted the lowest on base and slugging percentages of his career. The White Sox appeared to have two sure things just five months ago, but now a lot of that certainty has vanished. Despite his slump, Flowers is hitting .220/.334/.434 with 16 homers in Triple A, so the White Sox don't have to fret too much. Their catching prospect can still hit – he has just struggled to produce like he did earlier in his minor league career, when he posted an .800 OPS everywhere he went.

Flowers still hasn't made the transition from heir apparent to everyday player, so GM Kenny Williams will likely want a veteran catcher on the roster going into 2011. The Indians (Carlos Santana) and Giants (Buster Posey) both cautiously ushered young catchers into the majors this year and the White Sox could aim to do something similar. Santana and Posey hit so well in the minors that their teams created space in the majors and called them up by mid-season. 

Pierzynski is still just 33 and he hit well in 2009, but this year he's hitting just .265/.297/.381. He was consistently productive in Chicago from 2005-09 and it's doubtful that the White Sox are going to weigh five so-so months over five full seasons when they decide whether they're interested in re-signing Pierzynski this offseason.

If the White Sox offer Pierzynski, a projected Type A free agent, arbitration, he could accept and return to Chicago on a one-year deal. If he turned it down and signed elsewhere, the White Sox would obtain two high picks in next year's draft.

The White Sox may let Pierzynski walk and rely on Flowers and a veteran catcher, as we would have predicted before the season. But if they don't want to hand the starting catcher's job to a rookie whose minor league numbers are fading, the White Sox can always offer Pierzynski arbitration and deal with the consequences if and when Flowers hits his way to the majors.


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25 Comments on "The White Sox And A.J. Pierzynski"


Chiburgh
4 years 11 months ago

Unless the White Sox decide to go “Youth Movement” next year, AJ will be back behind the plate at the Cell. Hitting .265 is not the end of the world for an everyday catcher and it’s not like he is the only Sox player having a down season. Tyler Flowers is not ready, and may never be ready, to take over the everyday duties on a Major League roster. The Sox have shown at times this season that they can play solid baseball. Just look at their winning streaks. The real problem area on this team is at 3rd base. Mark “Teabag” Teahan needs to be the one to go, to make room for a youngster, despite his 3 year contract.

sdsuphilip
4 years 11 months ago

The worry with him isn’t his batting average but rather his OBP lack of being able to take a walk if huge for average hitters and thats even pushing it with A.J can pass when it comes to power for a catcher but an OBP under 300 is beyond horrible

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

Thank you. You are absolutley rigt. Everyne always says that A.J. wont be back because Tyler Flowers is so incredibly good and he has star potential. He really isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. He might one day be a good catcher, but as you said he isn’t read. The White Sox best bet is bringing A.J. back. A.J. is also one of the mainstays of the Sox. Great White Sox guy, talks a lot of smack but backs it up. Like him a lot.

4 years 11 months ago

I’d like to point out that his nickname is T-Flow. How win is that?

whitesoxfan424
4 years 11 months ago

Unless they just call him Flowers… or worse, Tyler…

Either way, AJ will be back.

4 years 11 months ago

Any chance he fits in some winter ball? I wouldn’t count on AJ returning…

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

Why wouldn’t you count on that? There might be a 100% chance if him returning.

4 years 11 months ago

I meant T-Flow with the winter ball, lol. Look, I understand a ‘good’ catcher is tough to come by, it’s just a feeling honestly. I wouldn’t be surprised (though I’d be greatly saddened) if AJ did not return.

Jason_F
4 years 11 months ago

If there “might” be a chance at something, there is no chance that it is 100%….if that makes sense.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

I see what your saying. Yeah that makes a ton sense. So what if I said that there is 100 possibility? Same idea?

alexchicago14
4 years 11 months ago

yeah, and theres a 100% possibility the movie “going the distance” will be good…in Hawks words, AJ. “He Gone.”

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

No Hawks Words, “dag on it I wish I could Cuss right now.”

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

Any article with the names Santana and Posey in it just make me start drooling uncontrollably…

It seems like people are constantly over-hyping catching prospects, because there’s such a demand for them. But Santana/Posey really seem to be the next Vic/Mauer – at least, most likely than anyone else out there…

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

Good point about catchers in demand. The same thing happened with Wilson Ramos. Everyone was saying “Oh my goodness how can they trade Wilson Ramos for the good for nothing Matt Capps”. Well Tyler Flowers and Wilson Ramos both had bad seasons although Ramos turned it around after the trade.

I still think Mauer isn’t a good comparison to Posey simply because Posey has more power and may not be a good of a hitter as Mauer in the long run.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

Well… Nobody compares to mauer… But if any catcher is going to win a batting title besides joe, buster appears the most likely in the next few years.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

I guess. Good point. But yeah, Santana and Posey legit. And I don’t thin people as you said, can compare Flowers to those guys.

whitesoxfan424
4 years 11 months ago

Posey needs about 4 more seasons of ridiculous hitting before he’s compared to Mauer…

Hermie13
4 years 11 months ago

One thing that needs to be pointed out with these young catchers is that it’s not all about the stats that people show. You have to look past the numbers. Taking luck/park into account, Flowers would actually be looking at an OPS over .800 this year in AAA. Not bad for a 1st full year at the level.

Wilson Ramos was hurt early on in the year by BABIPs under .200. He started to take off in July even before the trade batting over .300 with an OPS north of .350.

I don’t think it’s out of the question for the ChiSox to go Flowers next year to start…..we are talking about Ozzie Guillen who beats to his own drum. If he thinks Flowers is ready, then he’ll be playing.

Hermie13
4 years 11 months ago

Speaking of Vic…..

As much as it pains me to say it…..I think the White Sox are a great fit for Martinez. A) He can catch and replace AJ next year. Vic at the cell could see him get back to 22-25 HR power. B) Vic is a GREAT mentor to young kids. One of his best attributes in Cleveland. C) Once Flowers is ready you can easily move Vic to 1B/DH. Unless they bring back Manny the DH spot is wide open. 1B could be as well depending on how they handle Konerko (keep him and use him at DH some?).

Really hope Vic doesn’t end up back in the Central…..but between the ChiSox and Tigers, think it’s very possible.

4 years 11 months ago

It would be a very good fit, but i doubt it’s anything more than 2 years, which is what Victor wants, a multi year deal. T-Flow might be less than a year from ready, and might be the Sox starter in 2012. Vic doesen’t want to move to 1B/DH in a span of less than 3 years, which is unreasonable because he SUCKS defensively, and no team is gonna play him at C for more than 2 years at max.

Hermie13
4 years 11 months ago

Disagree slightly. Vic is bad…but not horrible defensively. His arm is horrible, but again he calls a good game and is pretty solid at blocking balls in the dirt. A team would be crazy to not start him at catcher for the next 3-4 years.

Just cause the Boston media rips on him, doesn’t mean he’s a bum behind the plate. Again, bad arm but not a horrible defensive catcher. Below average, but not horrible.

4 years 11 months ago

Mauer, Santana, Posey, Soto, Weiters… there are a lot of good young catchers in the league, you’d think that would mean demand for veteran catchers wouldn’t be as high as it probably will be. A.J. will have a job whether it’s with the Sox or not though his days as being the starter are fading. If I were running the Sox I’d probably let him walk, I think you could expect Flowers to produce as much as A.J. will next year even if his minor league stats aren’t just evidence of a down year. A.J. is going to be another year older, he’s having the worst year of his career and he’s never been a great hitter anyway. He’s at an age were some catchers hit the wall pretty hard and A.J. doesn’t seem to by the type of athlete who’s going to age well anyway. Tough call whether to offer arb or not, I probably wouldn’t just because of the fact that he’d likely accept since he’s had a poor year.

jwsox
4 years 11 months ago

AJ will be gone plain and simple…he cant throw runners out at all is having a bad year offensively and as well on the defensive side of the ball. There are a good amount of catchers out there this off season including the big target V-mart…I could very easily see kenny going hard after Vmart, a switch hitting catcher who can hit for avg and power(especially in the cell) ..Kenny could offer a multi year deal and let him catch untill flower is 100% ready then move him to 1st or DH..and if that fails there are still good catchers out there that could be used in a part time roll for a year….WE all know AJ will not resign with the sox just be be benched half way through the year when flower is ready…

Hermie13
4 years 11 months ago

Let’s not forget too that there has been talk for a few years about Flowers playing 1B/DH at the ML level in addition to catcher. He’s not exactly a gold glover himself behind the plate.

With Vic in the fold, you could conceivably split the catching duties in half for hte next few years. Keep both fresh and their offensive numbers up.

Antonio Nicarelli
4 years 11 months ago

It would be insane for the WSox not to offer AJ arbitration. Despite the down year he is still Type A, so if he declines the team will get the two draft picks. If he accepts, the 1 year is perfect to wait on T-Flow, and you will not have to overpay AJ because of the bad year. It is a perfect situation for Kenny.