Battle of the A.J.-es

It’s easy to assume that nothing will surprise us this off-season as Dodger fans. With the money flying around, anything is within the realm of possibilities.

Or so I thought.

Just after 5 p.m., CBS Sports’s Jon Heyman tweeted the following:

“dodgers have emerged as a potential surprise suitor for a.j. pierzynski, who was terrific in 2012”

And then, my mind went into a tailspin.

Wait, what? Why? Really?

After a sensational season from catcher A.J. Ellis, catcher seemed to be one of a few positions on the roster that would remain unchanged heading into next season.

After all, Ellis was fifth among catchers in on-base percentage despite a massive second-half slump.

Pierzynski, on the other hand, was eighth among the nine qualifying catchers nearly 50 points behind Ellis. Of course, the 35-year-old Pierzynski did knock in twice as many home runs (27, to Ellis’s 13) and his 77 RBIs were 25 more than Ellis’s.

Despite all that, however, the question of “Why?!?!” still rung clear in my head.

Ellis had become a fan favorite and a feel-good story in addition to the production he was able to offer on the field. Defensively, he was had the fourth-best fielding percentage among catchers (Pierzynski was seventh), and Ellis led the Dodgers’ staff to the third-best ERA in baseball. The White Sox were 17th.
While money clearly isn’t an issue, Ellis is also a much more affordable option, collecting just under $500,000 last season. Pierzynski, on the other hand, collected $6 million last season.

I get the need to win now, and I get that money isn’t an issue, but as far as I know, logic still does.

Sure there is unpredictability about whether Ellis’s breakout was just a fluke, but at some point the Dodgers need to stand by their guys — especially those as likeable as Ellis.

Clearly the “improvement” Pierzynski would offer is minimal, and so I think the Dodgers’ time would be better spent elsewhere in the system. Obviously having Ellis as a backup would be a nice luxury, but who knows what that would do to the confidence of a career minor leaguer who finally got his shot and succeeded last season.

As far as I’m concerned, LA has room for only one A.J., and that’s the same A.J. we got to know in 2012.

Staff Writer

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