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Tag:A.J. Pierzynski
Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Minnesota Twins



By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. 

For years, the Minnesota Twins were the model of how to build a consistent winner in a small market. From 2001-2010, the Twins appeared in the playoffs six times and recorded just one losing season. But the wheels fell off in 2011, with a mixture of bad fortune and bad pitching. The Twins have two former MVPs in their lineup, but it would be tough to find two former MVPs who did less in 2011 than Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Those two homegrown players were supposed to be cornerstones for the franchise, but their performance last season was more fitting a tombstone. The team's fortunes, for better or worse, will be tied to those two for the next few years.

Lineup

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Valencia, 2B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

Starting Rotation

1. Matt Garza
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Brian Duensing
5. Anthony Swarzak

Bullpen

Closer - Jesse Crain
Set up - LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, Peter Moylan

Notable Bench Players

A.J. Pierzynski, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe.

What's Good?

With Ramos and Pierzynski on the roster, there's zero reason for Mauer to get anywhere near catching gear -- unless it's for another commercial. With Mauer freed of pitching duties, he can concentrate on first base and Justin Morneau doesn't have to worry about playing in the field. Even though Morneau is a very good defensive first baseman, keeping him off the field could keep him on the field. Last year he suffered concussion-like symptoms after merely diving for a ball. Limiting his risks for a recurrence of head injuries should be a top priority for the Twins, and the easiest way to do that solves the team's other big problem, getting the most out of their long-term deal with Mauer. While the Twins don't have anyone on this list with a large number of saves on their resume, there are a ton of good relievers.

What's Not?

It's a good thing the team has good relievers, because they're going to need them -- and even more than the seven listed above. The rotation, after Garza, is shaky. That rotation isn't going to get much help from its defense, either. The roster makeup requires several position shuffles, including Cuddyer to third, a position he's played, but is not too keen on playing. The Twins also have to put Nishioka at shortstop. Although he played there some in 2011, the team signed Jamey Carroll to play shortstop every day in 2012 for a reason.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, if you thought it couldn't get much worse in Minnesota than it did in 2011, it may with this lineup and rotation. Minnesota went 63-99 in 2011, and it probably breaks the 100-loss barrier with this squad, but don't expect them to be historically bad, so it'd probably only cost four-to-eight wins in my unscientific research. Either way, it's an ugly summer in Minneapolis.

Up next: Pittsburgh Pirates

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:40 pm
 

Pierzynski has had beers during games, too

By Matt Snyder

OK, maybe we need to start going with Beergate or something, to make it easier to reference. But the revelation earlier Wednesday that several Red Sox pitchers drank beer in the clubhouse during games has spawned several side stories, including that White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski believes sometimes you just need a beer. He said as much on the "Dan Patrick Show" Wednesday, when asked if he'd ever had beer during games (via ChicagoTribune.com):
“Yes, absolutely I have before,” Pierzynski said. ”Sometimes you’re just really struggling and you just say, ‘Hey, you know what, I need something to calm me down and let’s have a beer.’ A couple of us will do it together, and sometimes it works out."

"It's just, sometimes you just need a rally beer. If you’re in extra innings and you’re in about the 15th inning and you really need to get going again, that sometimes works for you."
No word on whether or not the beer is what makes Pierzynski just so darn mean -- remember, he was voted the "meanest" player in baseball -- but it's a bit surprising to hear about someone drinking while still playing. I wasn't near as taken aback by the Red Sox pitchers drinking on days when they aren't pitching as I was with the fact that they didn't seem to want to support teammates or keep up with a training regimen, but the Pierzynski comments would bother me a bit if I were a White Sox executive.

Then again, they did win the World Series in 2005, like the Red Sox did in 2004 and 2007. Maybe the Cubs need to get some beer down to the clubhouse.

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Poll: Pierzynski 'meanest' MLB player

By Matt Snyder

In a poll of 215 major-league players conducted by Sports Illustrated, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was voted as the "meanest" player in baseball, taking home 29 percent of the vote. Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (13 percent), now-jobless Milton Bradley (11 percent), soon-to-be-jobless Carlos Zambrano (five percent) and Dodgers reliever Vicente Padilla (four percent) were the other names that most frequently came up in the poll.

From the SI press release, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said the following about Pierzynski: “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”

I can't say it's surprising that Pierzynski isn't well liked by his peers. That's been common knowledge for a while ... but, "meanest?" Really?

Isn't this the sign we're getting a little too sensitive as a society? Maybe biggest jerk or most annoying would sound better and yield similar results -- maybe even "biggest antagonist?" -- but "meanest" just has this connotation like we're some child cowering in the corner because classmate isn't very nice and we can't take it. So we'll run home to Mommy and Daddy and tell them about the mean guy. I would hope that if some player specifically said "A.J. is so mean!" that our collective response would be to man up and quit whining. But hey, to each his own.

Now, to be fair, we can't blame the players for answering. They were simply asked a question and answered it. And to be fair to SI, I'm probably overreacting to its attempt to come up with an MLB equivalent to "dirtiest player," which they ask in other sports.

I will say I was quite surprised that Pierzynski beat out the likes of Zambrano and Bradley here, but I'm no player. I guess they'd know better who is "mean."

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 2:42 pm
 

White Sox place Pierzynski on DL

A.J. PierzynskiBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The White Sox suffered a big blow to their postseason hopes as the team put catcher A.J. Pierzynski on the disabled list with a broken left wrist, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports.

Pierzynski, 34, is having a very good year for the White Sox, hitting .296/.338/.412 while leading all American League catchers in games (105) and innings caught (862 1/3). Pierzynski was hit by Kansas City's Bruce Chen on Friday and hadn't played since. The move is retroactive to Saturday. It his first career stint on the DL.

The team promoted Donny Lucy from Triple-A Charlotte, but he will hardly be able to help replace Pierzynski offensively. Lucy, 29, is hitting .158/.233/.256 in 40 games for the Knights. He's been up to the big leagues twice before, in 2007 and 2010.

Tyler Flowers will presumably take over the catching duties. The 25-year-old is in the lineup Tuesday and enters the game hitting .300/.391/.450 in eight games.

Backup Ramon Castro suffered a fractured right hand and index finger on July 9, but only had his cast and pins removed a week ago.

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Posted on: July 30, 2011 1:53 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Renteria stings old team



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Edgar Renteria, Reds: The reigning World Series MVP stuck it to his old team with an RBI single in the 13th inning, ending Cincinnati's four-game losing skid. Renteria hasn't been very good this year -- hitting .238/.305/.298 -- but he came up big against Giants closer Brian Wilson, lining a single down the right-field line to score Jay Bruce from second for a 4-3 Reds win. It was his second walk-off RBI of the year in extras and he's now 5 for 9 in extra innings. A little extra praise here for Reds reliever Jose Arredondo, who not only picked up the victory, but also singled off Wilson in his first big-league plate appearance after the Reds had run out of position players.

Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles: With several teams scouting Baltimore's right-hander, the 32-year-old impressed, holding the Yankees to just four hits and one run in seven innings. The Cardinals, Tigers, Brewers, Rangers and Red Sox have all expressed interest in Guthrie, who lowered his ERA from 4.33 to 4.18 and improved his record to 5-14.

A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox: In a washing machine, the red socks will overpower the white ones -- but recently it's been the other way around on the baseball field. Pierzynski's two-run homer in the seventh inning led to Chicago's seventh straight victory over Boston and its 14th win in the last 16 battles of the Sox. Both teams managed just three hits, but Pierzynski made his lone hit count, homering off of Tim Wakefield to break a 1-1 tie in the seventh to deny Wakefield his 200th career victory.


Hitting streaks: Florida's Emilio Bonifacio and Boston's Dustin Pedroia both went 0 for 4 on Friday, ending a 26-game hitting streak for Bonifacio and a 25-game hitting streak for Pedroia. Both of their teams also lost while managing just three hits -- the Marlins 5-0 in Atlanta and the Red Sox 3-1 to the White Sox.

Charlie Morton, Pirates: Much has been made of the similarities between Morton and Roy Halladay -- their motions do look awfully similar. But on Friday, the results couldn't be more different. Morton allowed eight runs on nine hits in four innings, while Halladay allowed just a single hit over seven innings in Philadelphia's 10-3 victory over the Pirates.

Carlos Carrasco, Indians: After giving up his third homer of the game -- a fourth-inning grand slam by Melky Cabrera (that Cabrera admired for way too long) -- the Indians right-hander threw at the head of Royals DH Billy Butler, who had homered in the first. Carrasco was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Scott Barry. Butler was restrained by Indians catcher Lou Marson and both dugouts and benches cleared. Not to be outdone, Carrasco yelled back at Royals players as he exited the field. Carrasco took his ninth loss of the season and allowed seven runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. Butler added his second homer later in the game.

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:18 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Pepper: No pinstripes for Reyes?

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller joins Lauren Shihadi to talk about a pair of struggling aces, the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and the Giants' Tim Lincecum.

REYES WON'T BE A YANKEE: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team would not acquire Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, either in a trade or as a free agent.

"That's just not going to happen," Cashman told Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News.

"We have an everyday shortstop in Derek Jeter," he added. "And I think we have an everyday shortstop that would be playing for a lot of clubs in Eduardo Nunez. The Yankees don't have a need now or in the future for a shortstop.

"But we do need a setup man."

Like Rafael Soriano, another player Cashman said the team didn't have any interest in signing?

SPEAKING OF: I understand baseball memorabilia, I really do. I mean, I own a game-worn Dick Pole jersey. But a dirt keychain? After Jeter's 3,000th hit, five gallons of dirt will be dug up from the batter's box and shortstop patch and sold off in various forms. The "DJ 3K" merchandise line will include not just dirt (which will be infused into key chains, plastic disks paired with photos and in bats among other items), but also the usual T-shirts, hats, jerseys, bobbleheads, patches, balls and even necklaces. [New York Times]

TEAM PLAYER: Mark Ellis understands Jemile Weeks is a talent who will help the A's, and that's why he's volunteered to step away from his second base spot.

"He made it very easy on me," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters, including Jane Lee of MLB.com. "You would, to an extent, expect that, but to the extent and the level he went, for me, was off the charts. The first thing I said to him was, 'OK, the second-base situation,' and he said, 'That's an easy one, you gotta play him.'"

Ellis is known as one of the good guys of the game, and this is another piece of evidence in that case. Ellis will play first and third for the A's, but the team's longest-tenured player won't be penciled in every day as he has been.

The 34-year-old Ellis is hitting just .210/.244/.286 in 60 games. Weeks has made the most of his opportunity when Ellis went not he DL, hitting .321/.357/.509 in the first 14 games of his big-league career.

Ellis has pride, but he understands that Weeks is a talent. In the end, that's the biggest thing -- players recognize talent. If his replacement was just someone hot, Ellis would unlikely step aside so easily, but Weeks is someone who can help the team in the long term. Ellis knows it. It can't be easy to put the ego aside like that, but he did. Hats off to Ellis.

As a side note, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle cites an "industry insider" as saying there's a "very good chance" Ellis will be traded across the San Francisco Bay to the Giants. Ellis is a free agent after the season, and with Weeks on board, it's unlikely he'll be back in Oakland next season.

PHANATIC HURT: Tom Burgoyne, the man inside the green Phillie Phanatic costume, was released from a Pennsylvania hospital Wednesday night after being hit in the head by a batted ball during a minor-league appearance at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. [Allentown Morning Call]

WELCOME BACK: The surging Twins will add DH Jim Thome and former closer Joe Nathan on Friday. Thome had five at-bats Wednesday in a simulated game at the team's complex in Fort Myers, Fla. Nathan struck out three Wednesday and allowed an unearned run, a walk and a hit in one inning for Triple-A Rochester. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

EL TIANTE JR.: Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto added a little tweak to his delivery for Wednesday's start against the Yankees, turning his back to the hitter more than he has in the past. It worked, as he held the Yankees to two hits and one run in seven innings.

"I've been doing it, but I did it a little more tonight," Cueto told reporters, including the Cincinnati Enquirer's Tom Groeschen. "I'm trying to make it tough to see the baseball, so I'm hiding it real good now."

How good? Cueto improved to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.63 this season. Batters are hitting just .193/.261/.297 against Cueto this season.

PEAVY, PIERZYNSKI OK: White Sox starter Jake Peavy and catcher A.J. Pierzynski had a heated argument that was caught on live TV in the dugout, and the two headed into the tunnel to escape the cameras. Afterward, both joked about the incident and said they were OK. [MLB.com]

ROX SEEK ARMS: Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said the team -- 3 1/2 games out of first in the NL West -- will look for pitching to help fill the void left by the loss of Jorge De La Rosa. Good luck finding someone like that. [MLB.com]

END OF THE LINE?: Veteran right-hander John Maine left the Rockies' Triple-A team after a bad start Monday and will use the time to decide whether he will retire or continue his comeback from shoulder surgery last season. The 30-year-old is 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 starts this season. [InsidetheRockies.com]

GLOVE STORY: Last week Yankees starter Brian Gordon became the first Major League player to use a non-leather glove in a game. Gordon uses a synthetic glove handmade by a guy in Cooperstown, N.Y. [MLB.com]

THREE TRUE OUTCOMES: You hear that phrase pretty often, especially talking about Adam Dunn, as a player who seems to either hit a home run, strike out or walk in every plate appearance. Thanks to the beauty of computers, the Baseball-Reference.com blog has the 25 players (ranked by plate appearances) whose total homers plus walks plus strikeouts were at least 60 percent of their career plate appearances. Dunn is on the list, as are Thome, Carlos Pena, Ryan Howard and Rob Deer.

MLB EXPANSION?: No, not of teams -- of rosters. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN looks at both sides of the proposition. While Crasnick writes mostly about an extra position player, I can't imagine Tony La Russa not wanting another reliever in his bullpen just so he could make another pitching change in the sixth inning.

YANKEE STRIPPER, PART 2: The other man in a vintage photo of Joe DiMaggio has been identified, so we can put that to rest. Rugger Ardizoia said the picture was taken in spring training of 1941 when he was a minor leaguer with the Yankees and his fellow San Francisco native, DiMaggio, "took care" of him. [San Francisco Chronicle]

EXPOS BOOK: Jonah Keri, the author of the excellent book about the Tampa Bay Rays, The Extra 2%, will next tackle The Definitive History of the Montreal Expos. The book won't drop until 2014 -- the 10-year anniversary of the Expos' move -- but that doesn't mean it can't go on my Amazon wish list now. Or, well, as soon as Amazon has it listed. [JonahKeri.com]

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Posted on: May 23, 2011 11:43 pm
 

Pierzynski gets up close with President Bush

George W. Bush

By C. Trent Rosecrans

White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski got up close and personal with former president George W. Bush and his wife Laura during Monday's game in Texas.

Pierzynski tracked down a sixth-inning Adrian Beltre popup that nearly hit the former president, but couldn't make the catch. He reached around the screen and nearly ended up in Bush's lap.

See the play here.

"I had Nolan Ryan and George W. Bush sitting within five feet of each other," Pierzynski told reporters, including Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I told him just 'cause he was the president doesn't mean I wouldn't jump on top of him. He and his wife got a good chuckle out of it."

Beltre ended up walking and that was followed by a two-run homer by Nelson Cruz.

Pierzynski said he knew Bush was sitting behind the plate with Ryan, the Rangers' team president and his wife.

"When I saw the ball go up, I actually thought I had a chance to catch it," Pierzynski said. "I was going to reach around. I needed about another foot and then I realized I almost jumped into the president's lap. It was funny."

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 1:12 pm
 

White Sox starting to 'put it on the board'



By Matt Snyder


The Chicago White Sox were a popular pick to the win the AL Central prior to the 2011 season. I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you why I picked them. The starting rotation is strong and the offense looked to be powerful.

Instead, the offense was abominable through last Friday. The White Sox had dropped eight of nine games and sat in last place in a pretty bad division at 11-22. While the back-end of the bullpen has been a serious concern, the most head-scratching problem with the team was the lack of offense. From April 15 through May 6, the White Sox scored more than three runs four times -- two of those were four-run games. They scored either zero or one run seven times. This was a 20-game stretch.

If you look at the currrent seasonal totals for American League ballclubs, the White Sox rank 10th in runs, 10th in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage and 10th in OPS. The problems were evident all over the place. Adam Dunn had an awful transition to the AL, possibly affected by his appendectomy (though Matt Holliday seems to be just fine). A.J. Pierzynski can't hit anymore. Juan Pierre hasn't been getting hits like he usually does and has gotten caught stealing (eight) more times than he's stolen a base (six). Alex Rios got off to a pitiful start while Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez have scuffled more times than not as well.

You can say what you want about that collection of players, but you cannot dispute there is lots of talent there. I've seen many fans complaining about having a bunch of strikeout machines, but only three AL teams have struck out less than the White Sox. There is lots of power, but there is also speed and it's not an overly old bunch. The oldest one is Paul Konerko and he's been raking.

Now, with a three-game winning streak, it appears the lineup is waking up from its collective funk. Konerko has been consistent and hitting well all season. Carlos Quentin has had some insane hot streaks. He's up and down, but still has a .944 OPS with eight home runs and 23 RBI. They just needed everyone else to wake up and it could very well be happening.

In the past three games, the White Sox have scored 19 runs. Two of those came in the pitcher's paradise known as Safeco Field, too.

Some of the individuals who had been struggling are waking up, which only alleviates the collective pressure on the entire lineup.

Beckham went 6-15 (.400) in the series with two doubles, a home run, three RBI and three runs. Ramirez went 3-8 with a double and a home run in the past two games. Dunn went 5-13 (.385) with three doubles and four runs in the last three. Rios has gone 11 for his past 28 with a 1.036 in the past seven games. Even Brent Morel went 5-8 over the weekend.

The White Sox are still just 14-22 and a whopping 9 1/2 games out on May 10. That's an uphill climb. But the bats are starting to wake up, the bullpen hasn't been near as bad in recent weeks and Jake Peavy is coming back to bolster the rotation. There are five games left on a west-coast trip against some pretty good pitching. If the White Sox win two of those games, the 5-4 trip would be considered a success and they'd be coming home to a seven-game homestand in one of the best hitter's parks in the majors.

If you still don't buy the Indians -- and note that the rest of the division is flawed -- don't count the White Sox out. Remember, baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint.

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