Something happened! The Dodgers did something! Ken Rosenthal and the others ( such as Buster Olney ) who criticized the Dodgers for having a bad offseason by doing nothing get their wish! Another ex-Brave is signed to a lucrative short term contract!
Andruw Jones, the boy from Curacao ( as Vinny likes to call him ) has signed with the Dodgers for 36 million dollars spread out over two years. Sheesh, I feel so out of the loop. I've only just now heard about this signing, even though the news of it apparently broke last night. My source in the Dodger front office didn't come through!
Jones is the center fielder. That's not in question. And Pierre is the presumptive left fielder. But I don't buy it. Pierre is not going to be the regular Dodger left fielder for long. This is next year, and everything has changed.
If the Dodgers keep Ethier and Kemp, then it's a sure thing that Pierre will fall into the fourth outfielder spot. Pierre is no longer the fresh signing who's got to be played. He is no longer the only center fielder available --- in fact he'll likely never play center field for the Dodgers again, outside of a Jones injury or Jones day off. As a newly signed center fielder Pierre had an almost mystical claim on being in the lineup: the Dodgers brought him in to be their speedy center fielder, and come groundout or pop up or pathetic bunt that's where he was going to play. But now, he's a known bust who's competing for a corner outfield spot. His power and on-base deficiencies will suddenly seem more obvious. His outfield speed ( such as it is ) will seem less relevant. Oh sure, he does start the season in a starting role. I don't deny that. But this year Pierre will have to compete for his playing time, and in a legitimate competition he has no chance. Being the center fielder was Pierre's trump card in keeping his starting job, and now he's lost it.
His competitors for a corner outfield spot, Ethier and Kemp, aren't rookies anymore. They have power numbers and batting averages and OPS's to point to at the big league level. They're better, and I think Torre and Colletti know this. I also don't deny that Pierre may get a boost in this competition from being the older player, the proven veteran winner, but that's not going to be enough. The Dodgers may be a little backward when it comes to giving their young players a chance, but when a veteran starter isn't getting it done eventually that starter will be pulled, even if it isn't as fast or as complete as most of us would like. Nomar and Gonzo did lose playing time as the season went on last year.
Now, Colletti may trade either Kemp or Ethier for starting pitching. ( I refuse to believe he'd part with either one for Rolen or some other inferior-to-LaRoche third baseman. ) Then it becomes harder --- Pierre becomes more able to hold on to his corner outfield spot, because where is the competition? But I know that one thing
GM Ned likes is his depth. If he trades one of Kemp or Ethier, he'll go out and get a Terrmel Sledge type guy to be a fourth outfielder. And Delwyn Young should also be lurking in the outfield mix. Though it will take longer, Pierre would also lose playing time to whoever the Dodgers had as their fourth and fifth outfielders at the start of the year. It really doesn't matter who else the Dodgers have. Pierre's days of playing every day are done, for the simple reason that he is now the worst corner outfielder in all of baseball, by such a margin that even Pierre apologists will have to see it. There's nowhere for him to hide now that Jones has taken over center field.