Categorized | Mark Timmons

The New and Improved Juan Pierre

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!

DODGER NOTES

  • 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

LAS VEGAS

  • 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.

JACKSONVILLE

  • 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

INLAND EMPIRE

  • Won 4-1
  • Josh Bell was 2-3
  • Josh Wall pitched 5 strong innings

GREAT LAKES

  • Lost 8-2
  • Andrew Lambo with his 4th HR and drove in both Loons runs

P.S. Who knows who the unlikely pair is in the above photo? One is easy. Who’s the other guy?

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

13 Responses to “The New and Improved Juan Pierre”

  1. voldomer says:

    Hmm, one of them is Al Kaline . . . ;-)

    I think the other might be Maury Wills.

  2. Dodgersramsclemson says:

    Hey Mark,

    Yeah Im very happy with Chris Long, and mark my words Donnie Avery at WR will be a VERY good NFL player. I like that pick…anyhow

    I’ve always liked Pierre, he plays the game the right way and speed can change a game. An outfield of Pierre, Kemp, Ethier looks good to me huh. That wont happen with Andruw around though. Ethier is a player too and needs to play. This is a tough situation, but if I had to trade either Pierre or Ethier, I would say we let Pierre go. Ethier will be a good player and just needs the AB’s.

    With Martin looking excellent at 3rd and Lucas May tearing up AA, what would a package of LaRoche, Pierre, and Proctor bring?? Kershaw moves up to fill the role Proctor was playing. DeWitt/Nomar/Martin play third.

    You can bet the team you see today WONT be the team you see in August, although this team is playing dag gum well. Been fun to watch these last 8.

    Talk to ya later.

  3. mark says:

    DRC,

    That is an idea…

  4. mark says:

    Vold got it…

    Wills was the hard part.. ;)

  5. Harold says:

    Wills was the easy one for me. Al Kaline I never would have gotten. Al was my favorite AL player in the fifties and sixties. Duke Snider was and is my all-time baseball hero.

    I think Lucas May needs more time to season. He too is a recent convert to catcher. I believe 2007 was his first year as catcher, having previously played at shortstop and outfield, error prone at both. He will only be 24 in October.

    It would seem to me to become a MLB catcher it would take more than one year to learn all there is to learn, which he needs to do fulltime, not as a backup. A stop at AAA wouldn’t hurt him but Ellis is going well there.

    Rusell, Blake and Nomar still gives us too many third baseman. Russell excels as a catcher, the most difficult position to play in all of professional sports, in my opinion. Why mess with that? Nomar I expect will be less than 100% all season as I believe his wrist injury will be nagging from swinging the bat. I think he should be a utility player filling in where needed.

    If the team is to change much by August, it would seem the change would be at 3B and SP. To undergo any major overhaul, in my opinion, would upset the team chemistry that is building. A change should not be a change in direction as we have the correct direction now with a more homegrown team. Any changes should be for missing pieces to fit in with our nucleus. eg. SP, 3B At third I’m willing to go with Blake until he shows he can’t do the job. I don’t know what the Andy LaRoche option mystery is. Perhaps optioned back to Jacksonville.

  6. Badger says:

    Aaron Rowand is hitting .330 with a .379 OBP in a difficult hitters park. Torri Hunter is hitting .313 with a .363 OBP. Now, I haven’t checked the stats after last night’s game, but I think both of those sets of numbers are better than our $18 million man.

    I thought both Hunter and Rowand were much better fits on this team than was, and is, Jones. Granted, both were overpaid, but what we gave Andruw was insane. Atlanta is laughing their collective asses off at us, as well they should.

    I still say our best outfield has Pierre, Kemp and Ethier. The heck with Jones.

    And I play DeWitt at third until LaRoche is ready, then I just switch the two, with DeWitt playing everyday in Vegas and LaRoche everyday in L.A.. LaRoche has until the All Star break to prove his worth. Then, we make the decision. We can package up one of them and a couple of minor leaguers for a much better #5 than we have now. Or, like Mover wants to do, bring up Kershaw. Frankly, I don’t know about that one. He hasn’t pitched more than 120 innings in a year, he is only 20, another year of seasoning would be a good idea. Give him a start or two later on, but, if we don’t need him, I would leave him where he is. I don’t send him to Vegas and I don’t make a middle reliever out of him. Work on another out pitch in Jacksonville and be ready for some starts in August.

    I see someone else is now talking about Blanton. Give me more on that idea.

  7. Harold says:

    Badger, I know Blanton is on the radar and was during ST. I have not been overly impressed with him as his lifetime ERA is 4.08, albeit with the DH, and a whip of 1.31. Good enough for a 4-5 starter but not good enough in my opinion to demand a whole lot in a trade or given one of those monstrous contracts. Those Oakland guys – Hudson, Mulder, Zito – seem to keep ERA’s as high in NL an in AL. It seems they left their best in Oakland. Hudson probably the best of the three in the NL.

    I too say take our time with Clayton. It seems the talk now is to use him in relief as they did Chad to conserve innings before starting. I always worry too much about what might be with young players and am concerned about proper warm ups for Clayton as a RP. However, it seems Chad survived that.

    We do need a #5 starter. Loaiza is too inconsistent and hittable. Kuo probably won’t stand up to long innings every fifth day. We have to have someone who gives us a chance to win. Chan Ho????? So, do we trade or bring up Clayton?

  8. Badger says:

    In my opinion, a good number 5 starter will be a .500 pitcher, give you 180 innings of sub 5 ERA. The idea is to eat some innings and hold serve. Blanton would no doubt do that for us, but maybe there are a lot of other options out there that aren’t quite so obvious. That’s Jed’s job, not mine.

    As for Oakland pitchers, I think they are notta too bad. Haren looks good to me, all the guys you mentioned eat up innings. I don’t know what is wrong with Zito.

    Gotta get. More later………..

  9. Harold says:

    I think the Andy LaRoche situation is that he was brought off the DL and rostered at Vegas. Right now Blake is on the 25 man roster and appears will remain there until he loses the job or Andy wins it. No competition for it on the big league roster. Andy isn’t hitting well and needs to play back into his HR mode. His health is an issue to be proven. A good solution – both guys playing and not disruptive to the Dodgers. That’s my take on it.

    GO DODGERS!!

  10. Robert Cole says:

    I agree with a Pierre, Kemp, Ethier outfield, but like someone else said, with Jones around it will never happen. But I disagree with whoever said they would let Pierre go over Ethier. No way. Pierre already has more stolen bases than anyone else on the team and hasn’t even been playing as often as he should. I think that Pierre brings much more to the Dodgers line up than his stats show. Unlike many players these days, I believe that Juan Pierre is grateful to be playing a game and works hard to bring his best to every play. I see many of the same attributes in JP that I see in Martin, and like someone said earlier, I think the Dodgers have built a certain charisma amongst the players that too much trading would ruin. Especially if that trading is done to accomodate a player as inadequate as Jones.

    I don’t see the need to rush around and get rid of DeWitt. Keep him around, letting him hold down third until LaRoche and Nomar are healthy and then send him back down and keep him sharp for when Nomar gets hurt again.

    Sign Furcal no matter what and GO DODGERS!!!

  11. SpokaneBob says:

    Harold, Duke was my Idol also. Do you remember Duke Snider night at the Coloseum in 1961?

    The team has been trying to “jell” which just takes time. I am not in favor of changing this team too soon. Will Jones ever make contact? Can Schmidt improve the rotation? Kershaw? We have depth and we have options. All of our outfielders are going to get plenty of playing time.

  12. Harold says:

    Robert – I don’t see how anyone can not like JP. But, many like what Andre brings better. As with you, I think Andruw is the stumbling block now. Many also feel that.

    I really like Andre, a pleasant young man on the way up, and right now we will be stronger with him the line up. But, Raffy, JP and Matt at the front of the order is enough to drive pitchers to drink or worse. They are something like 4,5, and 6 in the league in SB’s. Plus all hitting well.

    Andre is in the line up today as is Hu. Other than Raffy, Lowe and JP we have six real Dodgers in the line up. I call Andre a real Dodger as he played in our minor league system before coming to the Dodgers.

    As for the Jones, Rowand, Hunter CF issue, my choice last fall was Matt Kemp. That was not an objective choice but one made because I love homegrown players and we had to see if Matt could reach his potential. I felt he was athletic enough to learn to play CF. Of course, it is easy to manage looking in the rearview mirror.

    And I think the choice is Dewitt right now with LaRoche optioned to Vegas. Both have to play fulltime. Both know where they stand and can show their stuff. I hope both have super seasons, at Vegas or LA.

  13. Harold says:

    Bob – I must say I don’t remember Duke Snider night in 1961. I live on the east coast of Canada and at that time was in university so a bit detached from the world of baseball. I met Duke once at a car dealership promotion in Dartmouth, NS, about an hour from where I live. At that time he was a color commentator for the Expos.

    I too don’t think we need radical changes now, especially if we stay healthy.

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