Multiple sources confirmed on Tuesday that the Red Sox signed A.J. Pierzynski, much-maligned around the major league, to a one-year, $8 million contract for the 2014 season. Red Sox fans must now do that awkward dance of pushing aside personal feelings to route for a guy who has been decried, by and large, to be an Asshole™.
Granted, things like long-term payroll flexibility, recent durability and bridging the prospect gap all factor into these types of decisions. There are only so many Sean Caseys to go around. And while Pierzynski may take the cake for universal disdain throughout the sport here in December 2013, he is hardly the only villainous man to don the Red Sox uniform.
A brief rundown:
2014: A.J. Pierzynski – Unless the Red Sox wind up signing Barry Bonds or something.
2013: Alfredo Aceves – Like a bad bowl of fettuccini, it started off promising but the end was just a shitshow.
2012: Vicente Padilla – A notorious head-hunter by the time he came to Boston. Resembling Heath Ledger’s Joker didn’t hurt from a more literal standpoint.
2011 – Erik Bedard – Served with papers related to unpaid child support just prior to one of his starts during the abortive September collapse. Bedard wound up pitching just 2 ⅔ innings in that game, allowing four runs on five hits, two walks and zero strikeouts in a 7-5 loss. Not that those kinds of things could possibly serve as a larger distraction than pitchers drinking a couple of beers, eating chicken and playing video games during their off-day…
2010 – Jonathan Papelbon – It may not be fair, but that first season his K/BB rate crashed down to earth was the same year his personality started to get a bit tiresome.
2009 – Nick Green / Brad Penny – One guy (Green) probably definitely slept with Heidi Watney and you just know the other tried desperately.
2008 – Julian Tavarez – Mainly on the team to somehow cancel out Manny’s nuttiness.
2007 – Eric Gagne – Kind of the Jose Canseco of relief pitchers, if you will.
2005 – 2006 – David Wells – Keith Foulke’s meltdown in 2005 gets a pass for his work the prior autumn. Wells’ fat, enormous existence as a Red Sox served mostly as an annoying reminder that Pedro was gone.
2004 – Orlando Cabrera – Go the Nomar route here if you’re into prevailing media narratives. But Cabrera had to have done something off the field to make ownership cut ties with him so abruptly and basically volunteer itself for years of turnover at the shortstop position. Mileages will vary on the details surrounding the departure.
2003 – Shea Hillenbrand – Using a homophobic slur in his “joke” request that Theo Epstein trade him put him on the Pierzynski Map. But, really, he always seemed like a douche. His departure went unmourned.
2002 – Ugueth Urbina – He did his worst work later…
2001 – Carl Everett – C. Everett Koop, in his space, creating…
2001 – Jose Offerman – It’s bad when a Dan Shaughnessy column calling for your head isn’t totally off-base.
2001- Rod Beck – the Original Kenny Powers
2000 – Manny Alexander – On a roster loaded with those guys, it’s Alexander by a hair for throwing a high-school-aged batboy under the bus rather than face criminal drug possession charges for anabolic steroids. Carl Everett gets a pass for this season because he was pretty good for most of his first year in Boston. There was a time, believe it or not, when his craziness seemed kind of charming.