Could Twins fans be turning those boos into boo-yas?
There has been speculation that the Twins are interested in bringing back long-ago catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and that speculation has at least turned to some credible reports (albeit with unnamed sources), including this one from CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
What would it mean to bring back A.J., who hasn't played in a Twins uniform since 2003?
Well, it would mean a 180 for Twins fans, who have gotten used to booing Pierzynski in pretty much every plate appearance for an opposing team (even though he was traded away instead of leaving of his own free will like the normally applauded Torii Hunter).
It would mean a somewhat convoluted situation at catcher even with Joe Mauer shifting to first base. The biggest question would be finding at-bats and a position for Ryan Doumit, who like Mauer dealt with concussion problems a year ago. The Twins have Josmil Pinto ready to catch some games; he and another veteran could arguably share duties and also DH.
It would also mean adding an element that has been lacking in recent years. Call it brashness ... call it cockiness ... call it the ability to agitate ... call it, even, leadership ... Pierzynski has it. He's one of those players you hate to play against but want on your team.
It would mean undoing the curse of A.J. as well. The Twins haven't won a playoff series since Pierzynski was traded. Heck, they've only won one playoff GAME since he was traded -- going 1-12 combined in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2010. That, of course, included sweeps in 06, 09 and 10, meaning Mauer is 0-9 in his career in postseason games.
Not all of that is Mauer's fault or A.J.'s doing, but Pierzynski did have the memorable home run in Game 5 of the 2002 ALDS that helped seal the deal. He's a career .300 hitter in the playoffs with five home runs and an OPS near .900. Mauer, in fewer at bats, has just one RBI and a .673 OPS in nine career playoff games.
In short, the Twins could probably use a guy like Pierzynski -- to shake things up and maybe help turn things around. They wouldn't have announced their plan with Mauer so early in the offseason if they weren't keen on going after a replacement.
It's another one of those reunions that's just crazy enough to work.