Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bon Voyage

Barring a bizarre and unexpected return to the Dodgers, this is a farewell post to Juan Pierre. This was never a personal attack on Mr. Pierre, who is by all accounts a great guy. This was just a place to vent about overvalued veterans. It was a place to discuss the clash of old and new ways of evaluating baseball talent. A place to discuss how much better power and patience are than speed. And mainly, a place to point out how silly using counting stats are to evaluate a player, especially one given more at bats than any other on the team.

For those following along, it was clear this blog was done in mid-2008. The arrival of Manny Ramirez (and the previous rise of Kemp and Ethier) put a final nail in the Juan Pierre playing-regularly coffin. Manny going down for PED abuse led to a brief resurgence in Pierre playing time and also a brief resurgence in the outfield starters controversy, as Pierre arguably had one of the greatest months of his career. Thank you Juan Pierre. Without you I am not sure the Dodgers make the playoffs, as the team was definitely psychologically vulnerable at that time. You picking up Manny's offensive production let the team regain its footing.

And thank you , Joe Torre, for having the common sense to understand that Super Pierre could not last forever. And he did not. That second month of replacing Manny was decidedly mediocre. The bench was where he belonged on the Manny-Dodgers, and Joe knew it.

So good luck, Juan. I don't know if the Sox will start you, bat you lead-off or what. From what little I saw looking around, it is not unreasonable that they put you in left field, with Rios in center, and Quentin in right. I will say one last time that Juan should never start any position except for centerfield. It is ridiculous to give up power from the left fielder. While Juan is a mediocre center fielder (because of his rubber arm) he actually stacks up ok offensively there. And some teams have really awful CFs. But move him to left and you are just shooting yourself in the foot. OK, that was the last time, Juan. I swear.

So let me end with our favorite crazy Juan Pierre conjecture: The Hall of Fame. Juan Pierre has 1663 hits over his career. If he were to make it to 3000 hits it would give everyone the tizzies and hizzies trying to keep him in or out of the Hall. Juan always had only an outside chance at this, riding mainly on his strongest virtue: his durability. The guy can play virtually every game. Being relegated to the bench cost Juan about 600 PAs during prime years, or probably around two hundred hits. So if he makes it to 2800 hits he knows who to blame (himself for signing an untradable contract). It also cost him about a hundred runs (he has scored 804 in his career).

Even under the best scenario, if Juan gets to bat lead-off and stays healthy, next season he is going to be 32 so he just can't have that many 200 hit seasons left in him. So let's say two years from now he is at 2063 hits and starts a long decline then. Playing 34-40, he will need to put
up ~950 hits over those 7 years where his playing time will be shrink, shrink, shrinking. Comparing him to another speedster who aged very well, Ricky Henderson. Ricky hit 816 hits over those years. Ricky was arguably the greatest lead-off hitter of all time, so Juan has a tough road to climb. I wish you luck, because if you could do it, that would be one crazy fun argument.

Excelsior!

3 comments:

Humma Kavula said...

You beat me to this, but ya did a fairly nice job. I would have called back my Juan-Pierre-as-Howard-the-Duck simile from early 2008, but I guess I can't have everything.

In a sense, this blog succeeded in its goal. We never hated Juan -- we hated the idea that somebody could say "he gets on base an awful lot" with a straight face. Juan became a public face for frustrations with the front office. That said, he is not a fringe major leaguer -- he's a bench player, a fourth outfielder. You can't give him 700 plate appearances, but you can certainly give him 300. As he leaves the Dodgers, his one-win-above-replacement production off the bench will be tough to replace. If it's Xavier Paul taking on that role, we're probably looking at 80% of Juan Pierre.

But of course, there's the saved salary to consider. Nobody knows where that will go. If it is to pay for an owner's lavish lifestyle, then this is a net loss for the Dodgers. If it is to pay for, say, Ryan Church*, or a slightly better second baseman than the Dodgers might otherwise have played, then this is a win.

*I respect Ryan Church as a fourth outfielder, but if the Dodgers sign him, I will be the first to make a joke about missing third base. Just so you're aware.

So faretheewell, Juan, and here's hoping you make 3,000 hits, because that would be weird and awesome. Now that you're a White Sock, we'll be rooting for you.

But not you, Dontrelle Willis. We'll still be looking to upset you any way we can.

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