Monday, May 5, 2008

As Goes Martin...

Yesterday the resurgent Russell Martin went 0 for 4 at Coors Field and the Dodgers hot streak finally came to an end. He is only one bat, but he sure seems integral to the Dodger win machine. In the interest of moderating over-exuberance, it should also be noted that the 8 game win streak included 5 games against the Rockies, so what we might be really looking at is a Rockies sucking streak. The next week should tell.

The Dodgers seem to be winning because they are firing on almost all cylinders. The notable exception of course being the downright awful Andruw Jones. As feared this has gotten Pierre a lot more playing time. In Pierre's defense, he has answered the bell. He is batting .324 with an OPS+ of 103. That's better than average. He has stolen 9 out of 10 bases, a sweet 90% clip, which has driven his EqA up to .290, which is well... actually pretty good. Perhaps most impressively his OBP is .395, a full 71 points higher than his batting average (his career patience is .047). Considering his complete lack of power, that is probably as good as it gets.

Of course anyone can get hot. Juan only has 68 at bats. This being the Outwatch, we will be keeping a close eye on Mr. Pierre. If this is really a 2004 version of Pierre time will tell. The embittered pessimist in me thinks it is more likely that the 2005-2007 version is here to stay. My biggest concern is that Juan's resurgence is leading to comments from Torre saying that the reason [for sitting Andruw Jones] was to give a start to Andre Ethier, who is hitting .305 but having trouble finding playing time.

Let's recap the latest in OPS+.
Ethier 121
Kemp 116
Pierre 102
Jones 39

Ethier remains the most valuable offensive outfielder so far this year. In fact, only Furcal has been a clearly more valuable offensive force (several basically tie Ethier, including Kemp and Martin) on the Dodgers. As impressive as Juan has been this past few weeks, let us recall he is impressive for Juan Pierre . If Jones were the Jones we all expected to see (career OPS+ 112) it would be no contest, but he is not. If someone is having trouble finding playing time, it should really be Jones. You can't "go with the hot hand" and play Jones 6 out of 7 games. It's ludicrous.

Now all that being said, trying to win games and get a potentially hyper-valuable tool (Jones) back into playing order is a tall order. That is a painful balancing act for which Torre gets paid the big bucks. I just don't want management being lulled back into pre-2008 season thinking. Ethier is not the #4 outfielder. Juan is. From the starting gun on the opening day of spring training (They use guns, right? Hmph. Well they should) Ethier has easily been the #1 outfielder on this team.