Tuesday, July 3, 2007

In Which, in a Rambling, Nearly Nonsensical Post, I Blame Mother Kavula for All This Nonsense

When I was a small OutWatcher, on the occasions when I took a test in elementary school, Mother Kavula would often ask me how I did on the test. I would report my score, and then, Mother Kavula's next question, invariably, would be to ask how the neighbor's kid -- my best friend at the time -- did on the test.

This was grating and not a fun experience and has led to all sorts of insecurities and bad feelings that have no doubt led me to doing something as inane, pointless, and obnoxious as counting outs...

...but I bring this up because it is not without some pity -- yes, pity -- for Juan Pierre that I ask:

Ohhhhhhh, Juan, why can't you be more like that nice Russell Martin boy?

Look, I realize that it's not fair to compare every player to an All-Star, which is -- yay! -- what Russell Martin is. I also realize that Russell is not perfect. He grounds into double plays. He strikes out with the bases loaded. But it's easy to love his game. I love the fact that he's homegrown, a Dodger through and through. I love his patience, the way he looks for the right pitch to hit. I love the way he works with his pitching staff, seeming to get along with everyone, from the mercurial Penny to the Owenwilsonesque Derek Lowe. I love that he is a catcher.

Just as I find it easy to love everything about Russell's game, I hate everything about Juan Pierre's game. Even when things work out for him, I just shake my head.

Yesterday, case in point. First, let's go through the plate appearances by Juan-for-five:

1. Flied to left. #269.
2. Flied to center. #270.
3. Grounded to first. #271.
4. Bunt doubled to shortstop. Stole third, scored on a Martin single.
5. Grounded to first. #272.

I know it's not really possible to ignore the four outs -- and believe me, I'm not -- but it's the bunt double that I want to talk about. At the time that Pierre hit that bunt double to short, the Dodgers were hanging on to a 3-1 lead over the Braves. They really did need an insurance run, and Juan did his part. He got the results -- that's all that matters, right?

No. Juan was clearly bunting for a hit, something he's done well in his career but has done very poorly this year. Chipper Jones was in on the grass at third, ready to make the play.

Then Juan screwed up the play and popped up the bunt. He also hit it way too hard.

Normally, that results in an out... but Juan got very lucky. The pop-up bunt went over Jones's head, bounced just past third base, and immediately squirted away. Juan got into second.

I hate that play. I hate everything about it. I hate the bunt, I hate that he screwed up the bunt, and I hate that it worked out for him, even if it meant that it was good for my team in the short term, because it's something that the management will be able to point to as a sign that Juan is a player who "makes things happen" and deserves a spot in the lineup, which just drags down the offense.

Juan is a below-average major-league hitter. He needs to be benched. The three every day outfielders need to be Gonzalez, Kemp, and Ethier. Kemp and Ethier switch off CF duties until we see which one plays the position less poorly.

Sigh. Juan, if only you were more like Russell Martin, who came up with four fabulous hits, including a very pretty double in the fifth that scored Furcal and tied the game. If you were like him, I wouldn't count your outs. I'd just enjoy your game.

Instead, I'll point out that you are one off the major league lead for outs (Rollins has 273) and on pace to make 531 by the end of the year.


jimbilly4 said...

On the plus side, he seems to have really picked up his base stealing. He now has an 80% success rate (and apparently improving) with 32 SBs and counting. And this with a OBP barely above .300. Imagine the havoc if he had a good OBP.

OK, not hard to imagine. A .375 OBP would give him 25% more opportunities to steal, likely resulting in 40 SBs and a tie for the league lead in stolen bases.

Oh, and I blame your mom as well. She will not stop going on about 200 hits-this and 200 hits-that. You'd think she had never heard of OPS run score estimation.

Humma Kavula said...

Oh, I hate the stolen base, too. Sure, it's easy to like when he's stealing at the rate he's been at recently... but before this streak, he was stealing at a 70% rate, which isn't really helping the team.

Stolen bases, for the most part, aren't worth the risk of making yet another out.