#138, New faces for 2015 and beyond, Part III

Gil Mechanicsville, VA

By Gil in Mechanicsville

Another addition to the 2015 Atlanta Braves roster is catcher A.J. Pierzynski. While is was originally thought by many fans in Atlanta that A.J. Would be the mentor to Christian Bethencourt and the primary back-up for the young Panamanian with fan favorite and home run threat Evan Gattis moving to the outfield. The idea was that Evan might still play behind the plate and allow for some depth at the backstop position. Every team needs an emergency third catcher, right? Well, that plan went out the window with not only the trade of Justin Upton to San Diego but with the trade of Evan Gattis to the Houston Astros for three prospects.

The 39 year old Pierzynski was signed to a one year deal for $2 million dollars plus a possible additional $700,000 in incentives. A.J., aka, the most hated man in the Major League Baseball is a 17 year veteran of the majors. Certainly enough time to rub more than a few teammates and opponents alike the wrong way. I get the feeling the reputation has been earned by a perchance to speak the un-varnished truth no matter who’s toes are stepped upon. With the addition of Pierzynski, of whom the character, Jack Parkman, of the baseball comedy films Major Leagues I & II may well have been based upon, and outfielder Jonny Gomes, things should be interesting in the Braves club house this season.

Anthony John Pierzynski is listed as being 6′-3” weighing 235 pounds bats left and throws right. Amazingly, his career stats both as a major and a minor leaguer are remarkably similar. In his 17 seasons in the bigs, he has amassed a career line of .281/ .320/ .424 with a career OPS of .744. Perhaps his best years were with the White Sox with whom he earned a World Series ring in 2005 but he has been very consistent through-out his big league career. Defensively, Pierzynski has thrown out just 24% of potential base stealers. The league average is 28% so the Braves are not employing him for his prowess with the leather but for his cumulative knowledge of the game and his winning attitude. I have no doubt he will push Christian to play at a high level. In addition, the veteran will likely be used as a left handed bat off the bench on occasion. While not known as a homerun hitter, he does have some power. Not Evan Gattis power but he can get the ball in the stands.

One thing for sure, he should be beneficial in tutoring young Bethancourt on how to prepare for games by going over pre-game scouting reports and establishing a game plan for that day’s pitcher and not just phone it in. To not play the game at full bore will gain the wrath of the most hated man in baseball.

68 Responses to “#138, New faces for 2015 and beyond, Part III”

  1. 1 Gil in Mechanicsville February 18, 2015 at 8:27 am

    So many things changing so fast, figured I may as well try to catch up

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 2 JoAnn Brooks Elliott February 18, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Will they or won’t they have a good season? Only time will tell, it the team works at it and gel’s then they might have a chance at making something happen this year. If it is another year of every man for himself, well we all know how that works. I would like to see some, back slapping, butt slapping and hugging in the dug out this year, instead of the woe is me. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  3. 3 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Amen Mrs Josie. I suppose the definition of “good season” will vary from fan to fan. As for me, I will be OK with a team that competes hard every night and looks like they really care as opposed to the team we had last year that, as you say, was “every man for himself”. Even if we aren’t competing for a playoff spot in August and September, I want to see a team that looks like they remember they are playing a game… a very special game that only a select few get to play and make their living with. I want to see some excitement, and I want to see some disappointment. And if I see a group of guys come together and try to do the best they can night to night while learning and improving, If that’s what I get to see, I will consider it a good season and be thankful for it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. 4 Carolina Lady February 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Amen to each of you! Would I ever love to see Chipper down there chewing some butt or praising somebody for a great effort! *sigh*

    Liked by 2 people

  5. 5 Carolina Lady February 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    BTW – got a new eye and, boy, it’s amazing what I can see now! Colors astonish me. I had no idea what I wasn’t seeing. Gonna get the other one in March. And to think that I had dreaded and feared this surgery!!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. 6 Gil in Mechanicsville February 18, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Yes, as the old saying goes, it is not always the size of the dog in the fight which matters but the size of the fight in the dog. I think we all agree, we hate to see guys phoning it in. We have had enough Melky Cabraras and Yunel Escobars to last us a lifetime. This year’s team is not the button down white collar guys of the 90s. They better understand no one is guaranteed a spot on the roster and Delta is ready when they are…..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 7 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Wooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  8. 8 JoAnn Brooks Elliott February 18, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Very happy for you Carolina Lady, I wish Gil would look into it, to help him with detail work like working on his watch’s and reading 🙂


  9. 9 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Noted HOF baseball columnist and Bosox aficionado Peter Gammons yesterday: “When the Red Sox know the health and the predictable production of all their outfielders this spring, they may well make a trade or two; the Braves have called and made it clear they have strong interest in Jackie Bradley, but that is a post St. Patrick’s Day discussion.

    Jackie Bradley is a CF… a gold glove caliber CF. JB, as opposed to BJ, is akin to Otis Nixon.


  10. 10 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Speaking of Otis Nixon, how about this vintage clip of Otis having a “disagreement” with someone we have become quite familiar with…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. 11 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I can’t decide who is more impressive in this one… the guy making the catch or the guy making the call:

    Liked by 1 person

  12. 12 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    One more Otis clip. This is what I miss right here. If we can come close to this kind of baseball with EY, Jr., or Zoilo, or Jackie Bradley, or whomever, then bring it.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. 13 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Last one, and completely unrelated with the Braves, but still a really cool clip to watch. Man I can’t wait for baseball to get going…


  14. 14 Vox O'Raison February 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm



  15. 15 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Happy Mike Minor Arbitration Hearing Day! Today, Mike will emerge from his arb hearing. If he sees his shadow, he’ll make only $5.1M and will have a long Spring Training. If not, he’ll emerge with a brand new $5.6M salary and lots of sunshine.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. 16 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 8:02 am

    P&CR tomorrow!!!!

    In truth, many pitchers, catchers and others are already there. They are as excited about this season as I am!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. 17 berigan2electricboogaloo February 19, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Well, it’s truly baseball weather! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  18. 18 Gil in Mechanicsville February 19, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Yes, it is that wonderful time of year again. So wish I was there…. Hope you folks in the deep south understand all this cold weather is just more proof that global warming is real… Don’t believe me? Well, it will warm up again, isn’t that proof enough? Oh wait, that is because spring is coming… My bad!

    Looks like we are trapped in the house a few days longer here in Mechanicsville. While the snow was not deep, it is of the long lasting verity. We get one of these every so often. It’s why I have at least one 4 wheel drive vehicle. Not that I really need it, I got around in a ’64 Chevy 3/4 ton pick up back in the day when I had to work for a living. It was a great truck, it had a radio and a heater… Not a fancy push button radio and only AM but the tunes sounded great and the heater worked whenever Ii needed it. It had it’s quirks but it is a fond memory.

    Now back to baseball…. What is Mike Minor’s real motive in all this? Find out the Braves plans for him? Make enough for the leather package upgrade on his new pick up truck?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. 19 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I have a good cold weather baseball (almost) story for ya…

    Many years ago I played in a short 6-week winter softball league in December and January. (Back then, I was obsessed with playing and played year round on 3 different teams.) That particular winter season ASA decided to experiment with a new nylon covered ball. During one of the games, where I manned the hot corner, I took a screaming line drive right into the meat of my glove. I couldn’t feel my left hand again for a couple of hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. 20 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 9:15 am

    What is Mike Minor’s real motive in all this?

    More $$ for his agent. That’s it. All those extra 10%’s add up across the board. I’d speculate that it’s on the advice of his agent.


  21. 21 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 9:24 am


  22. 22 Gil in Mechanicsville February 19, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Great story VOX, As I got older, I found my comfort level changed when playing sports. With golf, it was 45 degrees including windchill. When you hit a 100 compression ball in the snow, you quickly come to the conclusion to do so is beyond stupid…


  23. 23 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Mark Bowman: “Given the strength of the National League East and the many questions surrounding this new-look Atlanta roster, it would not be wise to project the Braves as a postseason contender. But if the offense proves successful in its attempt to put the ball in play more consistently and run more frequently, this is a club that could finish slightly above the .500 mark. If so, they’ll keep things interesting into September — something last year’s lifeless club did not accomplish.

    Very well stated.


  24. 24 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 9:37 am

    More Bowman: “While the Braves do not appear to have any imminent deals in the hopper, they are still working the phones and evaluating ways to improve both this year’s roster and their pipeline. Even if they don’t strike any deals within the next few weeks, look for lots of activity near the end of March, when they will need to decide what to do with some of the non-roster invitees who will not be making Atlanta’s Opening Day roster.

    This seems to jive with Peter Gammons’ assertion that the Braves are eyeing the Bosox’ outfield glut, particularly young Jackie Bradley.

    One thing is certain under the new regime. BJ’s contract no longer guarantees him playing time. He has to earn it. I’ll go so far as to say that CF is his job to lose, but he’s gotta perform to play. It’s no quirk or coincidence that the John’s brought in Eury Perez and Eric Young, Jr. and invited them to Spring Training. BJ has to know he’s replaceable, even by a couple of NRI’s.

    Competition for playing time is the motto of this year’s Braves ST.


  25. 25 Gil in Mechanicsville February 19, 2015 at 9:43 am

    It’s funny how a team can go from heroes to zeros so quickly. The idea last season at this point was how many games would separate the Braves and Nats in September. This season it’s between the Braves and the Phillies for the cellar…

    Of course, I remember the start of the 1991 season. Goes to show that at the start of any given season games no longer are played on paper…. The thing I remember most about the 91 team is how many times they got hits with men on base with two outs…. T’was a magical time….

    Liked by 2 people

  26. 26 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Of course, I remember the start of the 1991 season.

    Speaking of 1991, when the Braves traded former 1st round pick C Jimmy Kremers for Otis Nixon, Otis had batted .251 in just 231 AB’s in 1990. Many questioned the trade and questioned new GM John Schuerholz. I can still hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    JS also brought in light hitting Rafael Belliard who had hit just .204 the previous year and had just 1 career HR.

    Then he signed Sid Bream and many complained that they brought in a creaky kneed FA 1B that had only hit 15 HR and driven in 67 runs in 1990.

    And I can still remember the debate about signing oft-injured 3B Terry Pendleton whom the Cardinals had deemed expendable and replaced with former C Todd Zeile.

    Now I’m not going to sit here and compare the 2015 Braves to the 1991 Braves… not by a long stretch. But I think that sometimes we can’t see the big picture when we consider small snapshots at a time.

    No one imagined that Otis would become such an integral part of the Braves of the early ’90’s. No one would imagine that TP would capture the ’91 MVP over pre-steroid Barry Bonds. No one would imagine that the pair of former Pirates, Belliard and Bream, would become important cogs in a total team accomplishment. Who could have seen that coming?

    It helped alot that the 1991 squad had a trio of very promising young pitchers that emerged as some of the league’s best that season. Of course, prior to 1991, not many people knew who Glavine, Smoltz and Avery even were unless you had followed them as prospects. Can Teheran, Miller and Wood be that great? Probably not… but do we know that in 2015? No we don’t.

    Again, I’m not predicting that the 2015 Braves will come out of nowhere and win the NL pennant. But on paper, the 1991 team didn’t look so daunting either. All the pundits and so-called experts who think the Braves will challenge the Phillies for last place don’t have the first real clue how this team will actually perform on the field in 2015.

    Like you said, Gil. The games are not played on paper… or on a spreadsheet.


  27. 27 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Jim Callis, MLB.com: “The Padres and Cubs generated the most offseason headlines with a succession of moves that could propel them from losing seasons to the playoffs. The Braves’ flurry of activity won’t lead to immediate dividends, but adding more quality prospects than any organization did this offseason greatly improves their chances of sustaining a contender in the future.


  28. 29 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Terdo’s on the way!


  29. 30 Vox O'Raison February 19, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I love to see these youngsters excited about Spring Training!!! 😀


  30. 31 Gil in Mechanicsville February 19, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Yep, I am anxious to see some of these guys play. It is tough to get a real grasp on a team so early but attitude can carry over to the regular season.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. 32 Gil in Mechanicsville February 19, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    So, the Diamondbacks announce a one billion dollar TV deal. Lots of money in baseball for any team not named the Braves …

    Liked by 1 person

  32. 33 Gil in Mechanicsville February 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    No ruling yet on Mike Minor vs the Braves. I’m surprised they didn’t settle but who knows, not like it is a huge difference.


  33. 34 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 11:17 am



  34. 35 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Yes, Gil… Minor’s hearing was yesterday, but the ruling should be announced today. I for one will not cry for him if he loses. $5.1M will gain no sympathy from me.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. 36 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    I reckon not. The dude makes out like a bandit either way.


  36. 37 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner.


  37. 38 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    … and confirmed by the beat writer. Mikey earns, er, makes $5.6M for 2015. Let’s hope he does earn it.


  38. 39 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Kinda sucks that the highest paid starter is the #4, at best, starter.


  39. 40 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Although it does kinda say something that the highest paid starter only makes $5.6.


  40. 41 Gil in Mechanicsville February 20, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    It was kind of like fighting over meal money… Guess Minor made the best case. Went out there even while not up to snuff, I call that taking one for the team. I shall not begrudge him finding the loss change under the cushions.


  41. 42 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Nope, nor shall I. I’m just glad we’re one big happy family, and that so many are excited about the upcoming season.

    And that includes me…


  42. 43 Vox O'Raison February 20, 2015 at 2:48 pm



  43. 44 Gil in Mechanicsville February 20, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Although it does kinda say something that the highest paid starter only makes $5.6.

    Kind of helps you understand why the Braves are predicted to lose 90 games this season….


  44. 46 Vox O'Raison February 22, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Let us try that again:

    “A rose by any other name…”


  45. 47 Gil in Mechanicsville February 22, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I guess he reads our blog on a regular basis…

    Liked by 1 person

  46. 48 chrisklob February 23, 2015 at 12:37 am

    don’t know about any of the rest of you but i’m a little concerned about pierzynski. he’s not exactly known as a “good clubhouse presence”. anyone else thinking the same? i’m not talking about his abilities. more about what’s going on behind the catcher’s mask.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. 49 chrisklob February 23, 2015 at 12:40 am

    let me expound upon my last post. he has a very long history of being a loose cannon. it’s NOT exactly the braves way. this franchise is known for its professionalism and respect for the game. i’m not sure aj will represent that well. thoughts?


  48. 50 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 8:16 am

    You never know Chris, he was a pariah in Boston but Shelby Miller says he was beloved in the St. Louis clubhouse. Like I said in the lead, could be the model for Jack Parkman character in Major Leagues… I remember how everyone bad mouthed Gary Sheffield before he arrived in Atlanta but his team mates all spoke highly of him. Sometimes it is getting the right blend of personalities together. Cannot all be Alphas nor can you have all Betas. It is usually a seasoned veteran who can keep a team focused.

    We will have to wait and see on AJ. I just hope the 2015 team can play as a team.

    Maybe BJ decided to make the change to Melvin so his uniform would not be confused with AJ’s, Then there are all the Johnsons to keep straight.

    Anyway, good to hear from you…


  49. 51 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Kinda hard to argue with that…

    Liked by 1 person

  50. 52 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 8:43 am

    … anyone else thinking the same?

    Admittedly, I do not know much about the guy. Perhaps the Braves braintrust felt a few guys in the clubhouse could use a little shaking up. Maybe AJP has mellowed with age. Or maybe he understood that the only way to get one more good contract is to play the veteran/mentor role. Any or all of these reasons is OK with me.

    And it strikes me, Gil, that perhaps he will be Shelby Miller’s personal catcher. That’s an old Bobby Cox trick that worked pretty well as I recall. It gets him regular work and everyone knows the schedule.


  51. 53 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 9:59 am


  52. 54 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Yes VOX, I got that vibe from Miller too that he would be pretty comfortable with that arrangement. Baseball is so different now with the bullpen filled with 7 or 8 pitchers. Teams have to look for some versatility elsewhere. It is pretty easy to run out of players in extra inning games.

    One question will be if Fredi will opt for 3 catchers on the roster.


  53. 55 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 10:17 am


    Good news…

    Liked by 1 person

  54. 56 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 11:10 am

    One question will be if Fredi will opt for 3 catchers on the roster.

    I think he could, given the versatility of many of the other bench candidates. Guys like Gosselin and EYJr can play IF and OF.

    12 pitchers plus 8 regulars leaves 5 bench spots. One will go to AJP. The other 4 are up for grabs. It ought to be an interesting spring…


  55. 57 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 11:20 am


  56. 58 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I guess if you are building for the future, you may as well take your lumps all at one time. Not sure how that message translates. Calaspo is a given isn’t he, unless he is traded. I don’t see the value in bringing Paraza up any sooner than needed. Also Gomes is signed so it only leave a couple of slots for the position players. Perhaps he was more inclined towards keeping younger pitchers but who knows. I would like for the Braves to be smart too. Not just frugal… Put the best players available on the field.

    Liked by 1 person

  57. 59 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 11:37 am

    So, four bench spots. I think Gosselin will snag one of those. Maybe Eury because he has no options, I doubt he would clear waivers. EY Jr. is a good choice, adds speed, Leaves one more…. Will have to see how ST plays out, got injuries to take into account. Who is willing to go where, trades are always possible. Guys know they are on everyone’s radar, not just the team they are currently with.


  58. 60 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

    To be honest, in spring training, I do not worry too much about hits,, just if batters are making contact with the ball. I do look for the kids to hustle on every play. I remember seeing Pegan for the first time while he was with the Mets. You could tell he was going to be a good player, he had a certain intensity about him.


  59. 61 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Many media guys’ Twitter feeds are loaded with pics and vids of several Braves players in the batting cage this morning. Too many to keep up with and re-post here.

    There is no truth to the rumor that Melvin struck out in the cage.

    Liked by 3 people

  60. 62 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Calaspo is a given isn’t he

    I don’t think so. I think they all have to earn their jobs this spring outside of Freddie, Simba, Nick, CJ and Melvin. I suppose you can lump Gomes and probably AJP in there also. But I don’t think there are any guarantees with the other position players. All the youngsters have a legitimate shot at earning a job if they can perform in ST.

    Callaspo has competition from Gosselin, Peterson and KJ. I can’t see more than 2 coming out of that group. The OF is even tighter with Zoilo, Cunningham, EYJr, Eury and Terdo. We could get only 2 out of those also.

    Guys like Gosselin, KJ and EYJr benefit greatly from their ability to play multiple positions, including IF/OF. That may be the key to ATL’s bench this year… versatility.


  61. 63 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    And let me clarify my above statement “I think they all have to earn their jobs this spring outside of Freddie, Simba, Nick, CJ and Melvin. I suppose you can lump Gomes and probably AJP in there also.

    I am not talking about playing time… only a roster spot. Melvin, CJ… they still have to earn playing time. But their contracts pretty much guarantee a spot on the roster.


  62. 64 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    OK… I took a cheap shot at Melvin earlier. I kinda regret that. In all seriousness, I am rooting for the guy. No question he has disappointed us for 2 years. I think he has probably disappointed himself too. The reality is that he will be on this roster, and his performance could be a real key to how this lineup turns over this year.

    I really do hope he has a new start this year regardless of what name is on his jersey or in the program. Plus, for me personally, I’m at a point where I can’t deal with the negativity from myself. It doesn’t help anything and just gives me a headache.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. 65 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 12:44 pm


  64. 66 Vox O'Raison February 23, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Melvin, to the press earlier today: “My friends have always called me Melvin.”

    Gil, I didn’t realize you and BJ, er… Melvin were that close! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  65. 67 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Ya never know…. 🙂


  66. 68 Gil in Mechanicsville February 23, 2015 at 6:34 pm



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