I am going to start out by saying that I have recently went on record several times that I think Ethier needs to be our LF and so many bloggers and fans agree and even go so far as to say that anyone in their right mind wouldn’t even consider Pierre. I say that if you are so damn smart about baseball you should be running a team because a lot very good baseball people see the merits of Juan Pierre. They say Pierre doesn’t hit HR’s, Ethier does! Ethier has a better OPS. Ethier is better defensively – Well that one is flat-out wrong – Pierre is much better defensively, Ethier has a better arm (a much better arm). However, there is a lot more to this argument that stats.
When a GM or manager makes a decision it has to balance the present with the future and it has to make sense on some level. Why did we sign Pierre in the first place? Simple – he was the only one available. We tried to get some other players but it didn’t work out and we needed a CF (don’t say that Kemp could have played CF – he couldn’t on an everyday basis). The only other CF available was Gary Matthews, Jr. for about the same money and I don’t consider him the player Pierre is. He’s not a middle-of-the-order hitter and he’s not a leadoff hitter. He’s a #7 or #8 hitter.
But, here’s something you may not have thought about. When we signed Pierre, Furcal had 2 years left on his contract (he now is in his last year). If we don’t resign Furcal, who (not Hu) becomes our leadoff hitter? Abreu or Hu? Maybe Abreu could be a number 2, but neither Hu or Abreu possess the speed to leadoff. Kemp has the speed, but we need his power lower in the order. The fact is, if Furcal walks, and I think it’s likely he will, we don’t have a leadoff hitter. Juan Pierre becomes an important part of the team at that time. I believe that on THIS YEAR’S TEAM, Andre Ethier is the better choice to start in LF, but only Colletti and Company know if we will re-sign Furcal and then if we do, Hu ands Ethier could be trade bait. Hu and Ethier would get us Joe Blanton.
Here’s another thing – Juan Pierre has the body type of a Kenny Lofton, Furcal has the body type of Luis Castillo, who is dramatically losing his speed in his early 30′s. If we had a leadoff hitter in our system or had the ability to sign a good leadoff hitter, then I am OK with trading Pierre, but you have to look at the future when you look at the present. I think the Dodger Braintrust has thought these things out and has a plan. Most fans are just looking with their own set of eyes – the Dodgers have about a dozen sets of highly-esteemed and professional eyes that Ned considers before making any deal. We don’t even have a clue how well that machine works.
Now, I haven’t even mentioned four things that you simply cannot measure:
- Juan Pierre is the hardest worker and biggest hustler on the Dodgers – only Russ Martin comes close. Having played team sports all my life I can tell you that you shouldn’t take that lightly;
- Juan Pierre drives pitchers crazy and when a pitcher looses just a little concentration, it can mean the difference between a groundout and a grand slam – how do you measure that?;
- Juan Pierre has won a World Series as a CF and leadoff hitter – don’t write that off either: and
- Juan Pierre covers more area than any LF in baseball and gives us the best defensive OF in baseball (yes, his arm is weak, but it’s not as Weak as Gonzo’s)
So, there is NO RIGHT ANSWER. There are a lot of issues that go into this decision. I will say that I believe, if Juan Pierre starts, he will hit .300 with a .360 OB% and steal 75 bases (Torre and Bowa will turn him loose) and that if Ethier starts, he will hit .290 with 25 HR! Pick your posion!
Finally, Juan Pierre has trade value, contrary to what some people say and if I was convinced that Hu or Abreu could learn to steal 30 bases, I’d be open to trading Pierre… neither one has show me that however. Based upon what the players are doing this Spring, Juan Pierre is our 4th outfielder and Repko and Young are battling for the 5th spot.
According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com had this to report:
Pitcher Eric Hull, catcher Lucas May and outfielder Xavier Paul were optioned. Pitcher Matt Riley, infielders Terry Tiffee and John Lindsey, and outfielders George Lombard and John-Ford Griffin were reassigned. In Florida, pitcher Cory Wade was optioned. The nine moves leave the Dodgers with 46 players two weeks before Opening Day.
No surprises there!