Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back To Square One

I could also have entitled this, "As Goes Furcal...", but I used that one last week. At least Martin continued to play. Furcal's absence has pushed Pierre into the line-up as the team requires a "table setter". With the terrible Andruw Jones (Batting .170 with OPS+ of 42) still sucking up large numbers of at bats, it is Ethier who has been relegated to the bench.

Yes, that is the same Ethier who went 3 for 5 on Sunday (including a double), and is batting .306 with a 119 OPS+. Let's use Ethier in a sentence. "Ethier continues to be the best hitting outfielder on the Dodgers; why the fuck would you sit him?"

I know, a questionable use of the ";". May the vengeful spirits of Funk and Wagnalls pass over my home this grammar-eve.

It stands to reason that if you lose Furcal, who was in the top 10 in most offensive categories, the team might suffer a bit of a let down. But this obsessive need for a true lead-off hitter, despite Pierre being a mediocre lead-off hitter at best, has driven us right back to where we were before spring training began. It is a little frustrating.

But Pierre had a hot bat, I hear someone say? Maybe he did. Let's look at the last week's homestand: 3 for 21, a sparkling 0.142 average with 0 extra base hits. I am so glad we gave him the most at bats every game. Small sample size, I hear one joker shout out from the back of the room. Absolutely true, but no smaller a sample than that used for his hot streak, which was really all of 5 games. That is the inherent flaw in "playing the hot bat." Is the player really seeing the ball well or is he just really lucky?

I will admit it is not all bad news with Pierre. He took 3 walks last week as well, for an OBP of .250 -- which is horrible -- but .110 higher than his batting average. He is continuing to show increased patience, which really is making him more valuable. Unfortunately that increased patience has been negated by his drop in power (slugging .326, 50 points below his already anemic career avg), which has gone from bad to "Seriously, I'd swear this guy is using a nerf bat." He also stole another 4 bases without getting caught. In fact, Pierre has only been caught once this year, and that was way back on April 2nd. He has a 93% success rate, which is definitely elite. He could pinch run for me anytime.

So what we need is either a healthy Furcal or the common sense to realize that speed at the top of the lineup is not worth keeping Ethier out of the lineup altogether. Both would be nice. And if Andruw could start hitting bombs, I would appreciate that as well.

At least the D-backs have been stinking it up of late as well.

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