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Tag Archives: Juan Pierre

We need a major-league second baseman now!

delino

We need a proven major-league closer now!

baez

We need a major-league top-of-the-rotation ace pitcher now!

schmidt

We need a major-league centerfielder now!

pierre

No really, we need a major-league centerfielder now!

jones

From the top:

– RHP Pedro Martinez traded for 2B Delino DeShields. Pedro went on to win three Cy Young awards.

– RHP Edwin Jackson and LHP Chuck Tiffany traded for RHP Danys Baez and RHP Lance Carter. Edwin Jackson won 14 games for Tampa, and was a 2008 All-Star for Detroit.

– RHP Jason Schmidt, signed 3 years/$47 million in 2006. Has pitched a total of eight games and 33.2 innings since arriving in L.A.

– OF Juan Pierre, signed 5 years/$44 million in 2006. Mediocre in 2007, and relegated to the bench since 2008.

– OF Andruw Jones, signed 2 years/$36 million in 2008. Had a historically bad year in 2008, was replaced by Manny Ramirez, and bought out of his contract in 2009.

There’s something to be said about staying with the one you brought to the dance. Chad Billingsley may not be the sexiest top-of-the-rotation starter out there, but that’s more an indictment of the ridiculous east-coast bias of the media. Cole Hamels can start the year off miserably, but not have his ability questioned. Billingsley can start with guns blazing, go through a slump, and he’s basically garbage after that.

Right of the top, let me say that I’m indifferent to the Dodgers’ acquisitionhudson of Orlando Hudson — his contract however, is a piece of work. On the one hand, it’s a classic example of the Dodgers’ misguided personnel philosophy.

That philosophy goes a little something like this: if a position player vacates his position (e.g. Jeff Kent) via retirement, free agency, etc., or is unable to otherwise occupy his position (e.g. Nomar Garciaparra) the succeeding player at the position must always be a “proven” veteran who “knows how to win” and “plays the game the right way.” Other issues, such as the actual ability to hit or field a baseball, or the availability of cheaper, younger, healthier replacements not needing multi-year/million dollar deals are not remotely as important as the aforementioned.

Case in point: James Loney 2007, and of course, Blake DeWitt/Ivan DeJesus 2009, and to a lesser extent, Chin-Lung Hu and Tony Abreu 2009. By all indicators, DeWitt appeared to be at the very least, a serviceable, league-average 2B, with the potential to get better. Orlando Hudson on the other hand, lost a step defensively, and spentĀ  a considerable amount of time on the DL. Then again, it’s not as though THAT ever stopped the Dodgers from signing anyone!

On the other hand, the ONE good thing that’s come of this is that it again forces the hand of Manny/Boras. If they’re stupid enough to buy it, the plan is to move DeWitt back to 3B, Casey Blake to LF, and Juan Pierre to even further down the bench. And according the can’t-possibly-be-wrong L.A. radio personality Vic the Brick Jacobs, a deal has already been signed and was waiting to be announced. Colletti and Boras of course, denied such a thing had happened.

Either way, I really would’ve love for this charade to end. All I know is I’m glad I’m no longer living in L.A., since the discussion about this topic would be completely insufferable and intolerable at this point.

So it turns out Manny/Boras, Inc. turned down the latest Dodger contract offer of one year/$25 million. An increased offer, which considering there have been no public counteroffers from any other team, is very generous.manny

Scott Boras is clearly grasping at straws trying to create a non-existent market for Manny. There’s the constant talk of the Giants being interested, but considering their payroll has inflated considerably with their free-agent additions, and their (like the Dodgers) insistence on nothing more than a short-term deal, it’s clear that the Giants aren’t really kicking the tires, so to speak. If anything, this is a lot like the 2006 postseason when Juan Pierre’s agent successfully used the Giants as leverage to increase the Dodgers’ offer to Pierre.

Fortunately, it appears Ned’s learned his lesson about that nonsense and isn’t budging from his stance. At least, not to the extent that he did with Pierre.

Spring training begins in less than two weeks. Manny, clearly one of the best hitters of this generation, remains unsigned. All of the big money players have either folded (Mets, Orioles), or flat-out didn’t even ante up (Yankees, Angels).

And now Boras says he won’t grant the Dodgers the “opportunity” to match any competitive offers? There haven’t been ANY competitive offers, Scott. Clearly this is a game of chicken with the intent of getting the Dodgers to ill-advisedly increase their own offer. And they shouldn’t — why bid against yourself?

There’s no doubt the fallout if Manny fails to return to LA will be spectacular. If it indeed Plans B, C, or D come to fruition, I’d hate to be Adam Dunn/Bobby Abreu/Juan Pierre (heaven forbid) trotting out to left field this year. I’d hate to be Ned, or Frank McCourt.

But in the end, the Dodgers are playing this correctly. Boras is feverishly trying to create a market that simply doesn’t exist. Worse yet, he, just like everybody else, knows LA is the best place for Manny. But unfortunately, we know that Boras operates under only one motive — his checkbook. If he were truly after his client’s best interest, Manny would’ve re-upped with the Dodgers ages ago.

Juan Pierre’s 13th career HR ball goes for $150 on eBay.

Check out that $10,000 Buy-it-Now.

The irony is that a Pierre HR happens so infrequently, it’s not like there’s a great many of these baseballs to go around. This is the ultimate low-numbered baseball memorabilia. One of only 13!

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought highly of Derek Lowe, his brilliant signing notwithstanding. As dependable as he’s been the four years he’s been here, there’s just something about the guy that I just don’t like. Nonetheless, he’s been arguably the Dodgers’ best free-agent signing of recent note. He signed a four-year, $32 million deal after being unceremoniously jettisoned by the 2004 WS Champion Red Sox — this after pitching well in the clinching games of the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series.

Former GM Paul DePodesta was 100% right about Lowe — this groundball specialist would thrive at Dodger Stadium, and even signed him to a very modest contract to boot.

Lots to love about Lowe, statistically speaking. Outside the lines, he’s been a grade-A scumbag. He divorced the mother of his children, whom he left behind on the east coast, so that he could continue his affair with former FSN West reporter Carolyn Hughes, and bemoaned (along with Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez) management’s choice to hold on to the “kids” in 2007 in lieu of trading them away for a trade-deadline rental.

Haven’t heard much of Lowe this year, which incidentally, is a contract year for him. Either he’s happy that so many of his 2004 Red Sox teammates are now Dodgers (Nomar, Manny, advisor to the GM Bill Mueller), or he knows he needs to keep his trap shut and avoid controversy considering he’s old (2009 will be his 36-year-old season) and probably still wants another multi-year deal.

That said, given the Dodgers’ offensive malaise — whole lot of change Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake did for the team — it’s surprising that he was so forgiving of the their inability to score recently. After yesterday’s loss to the 39 games under .500 Nationals, Lowe had this to say:

“I think, in this game, trying harder normally doesn’t get you anywhere, and I think that’s such a hard thing to fight,” he said. “You can’t give 110 percent. I think that’s where we are. There’s no lack of preparation, there’s no such thing as guys not trying. I think, as a collective group, sometimes you’ve got to try less to get more.

Knowing how quick everyone involved with the Dodgers has been willing to betray and blame Ethier/Kemp/Loney/Martin … I mean, their teammates for everything under the sun, it’s a little refreshing to hear Lowe not blame anyone.

In the end though, blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Ned Colletti. There’s a reason why the Dodgers are a singles-hitting team that relies heavily on a high BABIP, and will be in for epic failure when their BABIP falls as it has recently. That reason is Ned Colletti. Ned spent $57 million on Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Nomar, Jason Schmidt, and Rafael Furcal. The only one of that bunch that’s doing anything remotely productive is Andruw, and that’s solely because he’s been banished to Triple-A and not wasting a roster spot. (Okay, neither are Furcal and Schmidt).

Pierre and Nomar (not to mention Mark Sweeney, Pablo Ozuna, and Angel Berroa) continue to soak up valuable playing time, thus further delaying the advancement of players such as Delwyn Young, Chin-Lung Hu, and Ivan DeJesus — players who may actual be useful for the Dodgers.

Rather than use the money (or their minor leaguers) to acquire useful players such as Manny, or Adam Dunn, whom the Reds essentially gave away, the Dodgers waste their “stock” on retreads such as Casey Blake and Greg Maddux.

And then they cobble together a roster that has no punch aside from Kemp, Ethier, and Manny. So is it any surprise that a singles-hitting team can’t do anything other than hit singles?

Since July 31

Andre Ethier: 2 plate appearances, 1 hit, 1 walk.

Juan Pierre: 13 plate appearances, 4 hits, 0 walks.

On the year:

Andre Ethier: .781 OPS, 11 HR, 46 RBI

Juan Pierre: .644 OPS, .298 OBP as a leadoff hitter.

“To me, Juan certainly deserves the right to play.”

“When [Rafael] Furcal went down, he’s meant so much to the club. He brings another dimension, his basestealing ability. He gives a professional at-bat on a regular basis. He’s done it [leading off] longer than Matt. He’s willing to take pitches.”

– Joe Torre

Matt Kemp, as a leadoff hitter: .402 OBP, .931 OPS

Pitches per plate appearance: Kemp 3.75, Pierre 3.75, Ethier 4.17

That’s a whole lot of funny math going on Joe Torre’s head. Either that, or he’s completely full of crap, and is head over heels in love with Juan Pierre, much to the team’s detriment. What’s the point of keeping one of your best outfielders if you’re not going to play him?

Mr. LaRoche finally has his freedom. I don’t know if he’ll be anything more than he is now. Regardless, this is yet another example of the mindlessness of the Dodger front office.

Dodger problems:

– J.D. Drew leaves for greener pastures (and honestly, do you blame him?)

– In response, Ned signs an aging, over-the-hill Luis Gonzalez, and outbids his old boss for Juan Pierre, at the bargain basement price of 5/45.

– Gonzo whines about the kids being better than him and taking his PT, and Juan Pierre is, well, Juan Pierre.

– Looking to address the fact that Juan Pierre is Juan Pierre, Ned signs Andruw Jones to 2/36 and moves Slappy McPopup to LF.

– Andre Ethier blisters the crap out of the ball in spring training, forcing them to play him.

– Joe Torre plays Slappy anyway.

– Fat Andruw sucks on a historic level, and Slappy is still Slappy. Meanwhile, Ethier and Matt Kemp are quietly the team’s best two OF.

– Hoping to address Fat Andruw’s historic suckiness, the Dodgers trade away Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris for Manny Ramirez, forgetting that Manny’s gone after this year, and so are Casey Blake, Nomar, and Jeff Kent — meaning there’ll be vacancies at 2B, SS, 3B, and LF. And there’s no one left to fill the vacancy at 3B, since you know, Andy LaRoche is gone. I suppose Blake DeWitt and Ivan DeJesus/Chin-Lung Hu can take over at 2B and SS, respectively, but do you really think Joe “I had Tony Womack DH and Miguel Cairo at 1B, not to mention am convinced that Slappy’s .299 OBP is evidence he ‘knows how to lead off'” Torre is really going to hand over the reins to the kids?

For all the hand-wringing about the “Dodger Way,” it doesn’t appear that Ned is interested in following it. That is, unless, the “Dodger Way” is loading up on marginally useful veterans with ridiculous contracts and tossing aside useful resources (i.e. pre-arbitration youngsters) like yesterday’s garbage.

Time will tell whether or not Manny for LaRoche is another Delino for Pedro or another Shaw for Konerko. But do you really expect this one to turn out well for the Dodgers? Two months, max, of Manny’s HOF bat — yes, that’s a great thing. But will it make that big of a difference for them down the stretch? How many more wins is he worth? Two, three, maybe five? Will that even be enough to catch the Diamondbacks? And if they do, what happens in the playoffs?

The Dodgers traded six cost-controlled years of LaRoche & Morris for two months of Manny. Adding Manny makes themĀ  better for sure, but I’d say anything short of an NL pennant would make this trade a disaster for the Dodgers, considering how many more holes they’ve now created.

More than that, it displays a commitment not to the continued long-term success of the team, but a dependency on win-now thinking. It demonstrates that the Dodgers are more than willing to impede the progress of their own players, so long as they dominate the headlines. And it can’t be more than headlines, especially considering the really, marginal difference Manny will make. Is there anyone who thinks the Dodgers make this deal if the Angels hadn’t acquire Mark Teixeira the day before?

It shows a commitment not to the vague notion of the “Dodger Way,” which I presume to be developing your own stars, but rather, a commitment to whatever the flavor of the moment is. The Dodgers suffered through this same thinking under Fred Claire and Kevin Malone, and it’s apparent things still haven’t changed under Ned’s control.

Well, now that Andy’s free, it’s time to set the sights on getting Andre Ethier off the bench.