Actually, he’s not new and he is only slightly improved. The improvement is that he is buying into Torre’s mantra of working the pitch count better. However, he is new and improved because he’s playing a position better suited to him and the hitters behind him are actually driving in runs!
Juan Pierre was a decent CF. His speed allowed him to run down some balls in the gaps and even though he didn’t always take the right routes to the ball, he was certainly in the top half of defensive centerfielders in baseball. The Marlins won a World Series with Juan Pierre in CF flanked by those speedsters – Jeff Conine and Miguel Cabrera. It was his arm that made him somewhat of a liability. Juan Pierre wasn’t thrilled that he had to move to LF, but he did. He wasn’t thrilled that he had to compete with Andre Ethier for playing time, but he worked hard at it, just like he does everything else. The first player on the field is usually Juan Pierre or Russ Martin. They share an unusual work ethic. Juan Pierre’s teammates respect him and opponents fear him, especially the guys who position themselves a little over 60 feet from the batters box. He drives them to distraction and ultimately…crazy.
The Dodgers have a slight problem in LF – Andre Ethier also deserves to be the starting LF. He hasn’t done anything wrong and his fantasy stats are excellent, but this isn’t a fantasy – it’s reality and the reality is: THE DODGERS OF 2008 ARE A BETTER TEAM WITH JUAN PIERRE IN LF – PURE & SIMPLE!
Juan is currently hitting .313 with a .389 OB%. Andre Ethier has more at bats and was (I SAID WAS) the semi-regular in LF, but Juan Pierre has seized the day. Juan had difficulty in the Spring and at the start of the season in working the count – he was after all, a hacker who knew he could beat out ground balls and he generally didn’t see the need to walk. He has bought into Torre’s way and the results are clear.
What is different is that with the healthy and motivated Furcal leading off, followed by the new and improved Pierre, followed by the speedy Puma, we have a lineup that can drive a pitcher to distraction early in the game, which can set the tone (a bad tone insofar as that pitcher is concerned) for the rest of the game. Andre Ethier gives us more power (not enough) but Juan Pierre gives us an intangible that few players possess: Speed Kills!
The other difference is that Kemp, Kent, Loney and Martin are driving in runs. Kent, Kemp and Loney are on track to drive in over 350 runs (projected) and Martin would be on track for 100 RBI, save his slow start. If Andruw Jones ever gets it going, we will be fearsome!
We do have issues at the #5 starter position – neither Loaiza, Kuo, nor Park is the Answer. We have another problem – Andre Ethier will not be a happy camper for long. He knows he deserves to start, just not for this team! In my opinion, we have to keep Juan Pierre for another reason – He’s our leadoff hitter if Raffy signs with another team. If Andre will accept his role, then we would have a nice situation, however I think his trade value is pretty high.
Clayton Kershaw could be our #5 very soon. Loaiza (and cash) could also be packaged with Ethier and Blake DeWitt for another starter (Blanton, Greinke). I think Ned is exploring these options. It only makes sense, bue are a better team with Juan Pierre in LF and hitting #2!
- Joe Torre finally has the Dodgers looking at lots of pitches and wearing out the other teams pitchers and forcing them to throw strikes. The results are evident!
- I see glimmers of hope that Andruw Jones may be snapping out of his funk. At this juncture, he just has to continue to play his way out.
- Tony Jackson puts it this way:
The Dodgers have reeled off all these victories largely on the strength of their once-dormant offense, which has scored 70runs during the streak and 92 over a stretch in which they have won 10 of their past 12games. That resurgence is due in no small part to the team’s gradual willingness to buy into Torre’s long-held philosophy that the best way to beat just about any opposing pitcher is to wear him down and wear him out.
- TJ Slimers writes a “Feel Good Story” about the McCourts – Go figure!
- Kurt Streeter gives his nickel’s worth on Hunter vs. Jones. For the record, I felt that Hunter was a better option for us, but I was not in favor of a $90 mil/5 year deal. Time will be the judge. Aaron Rowand was never an option for me. His numbers were inflated in Philly and he would have been horrible in the Ravine.
- Ryan Howard is hitting in the “Jones Zone” as well. Does anyone think he’ll stay there? I look for Jones to breakout and soon!
MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
- Won 5-3
- Eric Stults pitched 6 strong innings – 4 hits, 1 run
- LaRoche played 3B the first inning and then was pinch hit for. No word as to why… Diamond Leung wrote this:
Andy LaRoche, who entered the spring competing with Nomar Garciaparra for the starting job, needed to be scratched from the Las Vegas lineup after being informed of being optioned and did not play.
I have no idea what that means… So, I won’t speculate.
- Won 10-1 as they banged out 15 hits
- Lucas May was 3-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI – He’s hitting .338! I wouldn’t mind seeing him behind the plate for the Dodgers and Martin at 3B
- Won 4-1
- Josh Bell was 2-3
- Josh Wall pitched 5 strong innings
- Lost 8-2
- Andrew Lambo with his 4th HR and drove in both Loons runs