So I’m gone for all of four days. Unlike most other trips I’ve been on in the past, I’m completely cut off this time – no TV, no internet (save for what I can glean from my phone), no newspapers. But hey, what could happen, right? The Dodgers are going to play the Angels, and they’ll lose – because they always do when they play Anaheim – and I’ll come back not having missed much, while leaving the site in the capable hands of my cohort, Vin.
Boy, was I ever mistaken. Chan Ho Park continuing to find the fountain of youth, except somehow he’s not even 2000 Chan Ho Park, he’s 1965 Sandy Koufax? Getting no-hit – and winning? Mark Sweeney trying to place the blame for his crapulence on the team? And, of course, the incredible twists in the Juan Pierre saga over the last 24 hours?
Let’s work backwards on this one. Yesterday, Pierre hurt his left knee stealing second base, when Angels SS Erick Aybar fell onto him. This in itself is news if only because of Pierre’s incredible durability; he’s never been on the DL in his career despite nearly always playing every single day. He’s got an MRI scheduled for tomorrow, but there’s no word on how much – if any, other than tomorrow – time he might miss. Now, I want to be very clear on this: I’m not happy that Pierre got injured. As much as we whip on him around here, I’ve never rooted for any player, especially a Dodger, to get hurt. That’s just not right.
But that being said… who’s not a little happy that Joe Torre might have to start filling out lineups without his binky in them? Who’s not excited at the possibility of seeing Young/Kemp/Ethier on a regular basis, with perhaps Jason Repko or Xavier Paul called up in reserve? Because, sorry to say… Joe Torre cannot be trusted with Juan Pierre: (clearly written before JP hurt his knee)
When the center fielder returns after the All-Star break, Torre said Jones will take back his starting spot in center and Juan Pierre will stay in left field, leaving Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier for right field.
Torre said the right-field situation will not be a straight platoon between the righty Kemp and lefty Ethier.
“More likely, it would be who’s playing well or who has a hot bat or who seems to have more life in their body, or something like that,” Torre said. “It’s going to be more a feel thing than just a platoon thing.”
Ah, geez. Here we go again. “Who seems to have more life in their body”? Really? This is what we’re basing lineup decisions on now? Do you realize that of the Dodgers who have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, Kemp and Ethier rank 3rd and 4th on the team in OPS? Juan Pierre, meanwhile, has a .653 OPS. How many ways are there to explain how lousy a .653 OPS is? Let’s count!
1. 120 points lower than both Kemp and Ethier
2. 45 points behind Jeff Kent, who as you may remember, is currently battling to be the worst cleanup hitter of the last half-century
3. Just 9 points higher than Gary Bennett, who nearly every fan despised when he was playing
4. 169th in all of MLB, behind such luminaries as Jack Hannahan (hitting .224 with 3 HR) and Felipe Lopez (hitting .243 with 2 HR)
5. Worse than two LA pitchers, Kuo and ex-Dodger Loaiza (small sample size be damned. Two pitchers!)
6. Most importantly, the worst number Pierre has ever put up in his entire career.
Not to mention how superior Kemp and Ethier each are defensively. Now look, I can understand giving Andruw Jones back his center field job, despite how bad he was earlier in the season. As you surely don’t need me to tell you, this team is desperate for a power bat, and while Jones was most definitely not that bat before his knee surgery, it’s certainly worth the risk to see if his problems really were health-related. I mean, can you imagine how different this lineup would look if Jones could get anywhere near back to his 2005-06 self? But someone, please, explain to me how Juan Pierre in his worst season, is worth pushing guys who are already better (and should still have room to improve) to the bench is good for this team.
Although the Dodgers have struggled to a 20-28 mark entering Sunday without Furcal after starting 18-14 with him, Torre said that has not been Pierre’s fault.
“He’s certainly been a player through this whole thing who’s been a consistent guy, every day refuses to acknowledge bumps and bruises that he’s nursing,” Torre said. “He’s been great, he really has. I can’t think of any way to explain it.”
Torre’s right here, in a wrong sort of way. As we’ve discussed before, the struggles of the Dodger offense can’t be blamed only on Pierre. It’s hard to blame any one player on a team that’s put up three hits over the last two games. Clearly, everyone’s to blame. But when he says that Pierre has been “a consistent guy”, it shouldn’t be taken in the way that Torre means it. Has Pierre been consistent? Sure! Consistently mediocre. I mean, Jeffrey Dahmer “consistently” ate people. Certainly it’s a little unfair of me to compare a baseball player I don’t particularly like to a serial killer, but the point is that the word Joe Torre is using as a compliment isn’t exactly that. As for “he’s been great, he really has”… I’m just going to sadly sigh and move on.
Although Pierre did not even start on Opening Day and started just 16 of 32 games before Furcal’s injury forced him into the leadoff spot, Torre said his play has earned him that starting job.
Pierre’s 22 multihit games entering Sunday are tied with James Loney for the team lead, and he has stolen 13 bases in his past 19 games, getting caught just once. He’s even knocked in a few runs, driving in runs in five of six games from June 14-20.
“About half the month of April and right through the month of June he’s been really great, and I can’t ignore what a difference he’s made,” Torre said.
Joe. Come on, Joe. I don’t like reiterating this kind of thing any more than I’m sure everyone likes to keep having to read it, but if he’s going to keep making comments like this, how am I supposed to ignore it? “His play has earned him the starting job”? How?! By every single measure, Pierre is having the lousiest season of his career. And considering he was hardly Mickey Mantle before this year, that’s saying a lot. Having a lot of multihit games isn’t really all that impressive when you play every single day and bat leadoff every single day. As I said the last time I had to try to convince people about Pierre, counting stats just aren’t that great when you get more opportunities than everyone else to accumulate them. No one’s questioned his prowess on the basepaths, so the steals are great, but let’s not pretend a guy with 24 RBI is some sort of run producer now.
Of course, this might all be moot, depending on the severity of Pierre’s injury. But it just goes to show that for all the fanfare surrounding Joe Torre’s arrival this season, he’s showing more and more signs that he just doesn’t ‘get it’. Like I’ve been saying since the day Pierre signed, my problem has never really been with him. Give or take, you pretty much know exactly what you’re going to get from Juan Pierre – a decent batting average, zero power, lousy on-base skills, great speed with lots of steals, and a poor outfield arm. That’s the player he is, and that’s fine. The problem is with management types like Ned Colletti and Joe Torre deciding, respectively, that a player like that is worth $44 million and playing ahead of clearly more talented teammates.
Let’s give Rotoworld the last word:
Juan Pierre left Sunday’s game because of a left leg injury sustained sliding into second base.
With Andruw Jones set to return this week, the Dodgers would benefit if Pierre landed on the disabled list. As is, he’s set to remain the regular left fielder, leaving superior players Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to battle for at-bats.
Glad it’s not just us Dodger die-hards who see this.