Diatribes against individual players after a night of drinking and watching them struggle in the cold is a recipe for retractions, so let's stick to the cold hard stats.
With metrics not factoring in A.J.'s two rollicking singles on Monday night, the bleached backstop has racked up a -0.1 fWAR and a -0.3 bWAR for the season.
Plenty of this is the result of his offense. As a player notably bankrupt in plate patience and power, A.J. really needs to hit in the neighborhood of .300 to justify his continuing appearance in the batting order. Instead, he's batting .246. which is nowhere near enough to shake Pierzynski from the pace for his 8th consecutive year as a below-average hitter in terms of wRC+.
Still, A.J. isn't around for his putrid offense (we have others for that) He's around because Tyler Flowers botched the golden opportunity for promotion that most lasting careers are based on, the free agent catching market consisted of John Buck being overpaid and Victor Martinez being paid to DH, and because it's really hard to find someone capable of playing competently behind the plate....let alone on a regular basis.
And that's where Pierzynski has really reneged on the deal.
3 passed balls so far in 2011 is nothing to register a gripe about, but 15 wild pitches a quarter-way through the season is on pace to set a career-high for A.J. Unless you believe this is really the the nastiest Sox pitching staff of the last 7 years, this can't be viewed as a particularly good sign for Pierzynski behind the plate.
The damning failure lies in Pierzynski's arm. Even 2008's low water mark of 18% baserunners thrown out doesn't approach the 11.4% rate A.J. is currently sporting, and Monday night's game against the Rangers demonstrated the hopelessness. Like the rest of the league, Texas knew to run on A.J. at will.
The Rangers went 3 for 3 on the basepaths with Endy Chavez taking a base, Craig Gentry snagging a base, and even 34 year-old Michael Young getting in on the act. All of Pierzynski's throws one-hopped their way to Alexei Ramirez, who only occasionally acknowledges the inanity of trying to tag a player already safe at 2nd and halfway through the process of cleaning his uniform.
It's be one thing for A.J. to be 11% effective at throwing out baserunners, it's quite another for a league-wide memo to be out for opposing teams to absolutely run without conscience until they're made to stop. With 31 stolen bases allowed, A.J. is once again set to record a career-high, but the pace figures to pick up as 'wild success' becomes the regular return of challenging him. The league is willing to punish the White Sox for starting Pierzynski for as long as they're willing to do it.
We can blame the starters for not holding runners, and blame Alexei Ramirez for catching short-armed throws in front of the base. But at worst these players are a slight hindrance in a small compartment of their responsibilities while providing surplus value otherwise.
For Pierzynski, it's the case of a below-average hitter who can't defend the position that justified his presence anymore. He's a sub-replacement level veteran with little projection for improvement. Other than not wanting to admit a mistake, I don't see what the hang-up is in not exploring other options more throroughly.