19 February 2008

Juan Pierre Juan Pierre Juan Pierre

It just never lets up. A ceaseless beat of Pierre. It is a nightmare where I struggle to wake up. I can hear the my alarm clock shrieking, "PIERREPIERREPIERRE". Must make it stop. Finally I break through and wake up and stop the alarm, but it's still blaring. I unplug the clock, but it's still going. I throw it out the window, and still I can hear it, all around me. "PIERREPIERREPIERRE" Because I haven't really woke up. I was tricked by the nightmare into thinking I was awake, but the telltale shriek of the alarm has exposed the lie. Juan Pierre is a nightmare I never wake up from.

There is nothing surprising about this story from dodgers.com, except for how angry it makes me. The story is utterly predictable, and almost entirely without real content, and could probably be written about nearly any other player who was in some danger of losing some starting time, and yet I'm still angry about how clueless Juan Pierre is about how much he sucks. "Some people value what I do and some people don't," he says. The people who value what you do, Juan Pierre, are the same fools who list your team-leading 668 at-bats last year as some sort of accomplishment.

It's bad enough that Joe Torre may award Juan Pierre a starting job based on his veteranhood or becuase he's impressed by his raw totals of hits and stolen bases, but it's even worse if Juan Pierre makes threats to cause trouble if he isn't starting. I wish Andre Ethier would demand to either start or be traded. But Ethier could be traded, since he is younger, cheaper, and better than Pierre. I can't imagine the Dodgers being able to trade Pierre, unless they ate about 80% of his contract and took back essentially nothing.

I look forward to a regular season Dodger game that does not involve Juan Pierre in any way at all. A game in which he doesn't start, never enters as a defensive replacement, pinch hitter, or pinch runner, is never shown sitting in the dugout, and is never even referred to, neither him nor his blighted streak. One could argue that Juan Pierre as much as anyone else was the face of the Dodgers last season. He was always around; we never got a break from him. And you know what? He wasn't even as entertaining to watch as I had been hoping he would be. He may not have been as awful in the outfield as he looked at times, especially early in the year, but he was never fun to watch out there. Now Andruw Jones! There's a player who's fun to watch in the field. It was only fun watching Pierre bat if you enjoy watching a blindfolded little kid try to break open a pinata with a whiffle bat. And watching Pierre steal bases was never as fun as it should have been because I was always worried he'd be caught stealing and add yet more to his prodigious total of outs created. Let's not even mention his outfield throws. Last year, both analytically and aesthetically, Pierre was pain.

And now, I realize, I'm inflicting him on myself. I didn't have to write up a post, only my second this year, all about Juan Pierre. I didn't have to read that stupid spring training article about how he wants to start. Every player wants to start; it's hardly surprising, or news. Start me or trade me; yeah, there's a new line. I shouldn't fault Pierre for saying what almost any other player would say. I shouldn't even fault him for not realizing that he sucks. Lousy ballplayers very often think they are better than they really are.

But I'm a fan, and the thing about fans is they want to see the best players. So don't hold it against me that I rail against Pierre. That's why the drumbeat against Pierre goes on. That's why seeing him in the field feels like a nightmare. Andre Ethier is better than Juan Pierre in nearly every way. Ethier is better in the field, better at throwing, better at taking a walk, better at hitting home runs, better hitter period. Juan Pierre is faster than Ethier. Oh yes, and also older and paid more. That's all it takes, I fear, for the nightmare to continue. Do I need to bring Matt Kemp into this, by the way? It's still not out of the question that Pierre could steal playing time from Kemp, is it? Kemp is in danger at the first sign of a slump, I fear. That's the great advantage Pierre has --- it's hard to be seen as slumping when people list your number of at-bats and other raw batting totals as positive accomplishments. What are we, second graders? Is it so hard to divide?

Still, not everything is grim on the Pierre front. As I wrote a few months ago when Andruw Jones was signed, Juan Pierre has lost his cover. He's not benched yet, and he's not likely to just outright lose his starting job, but the possibility is out there. Even with a veteran-favoring manager, Pierre now has to truly fight for his job, and Pierre knows it, and he's getting his back up about it. Maybe, finally, the nightmare will end.


gary said...

It just doesn't seem reasonable to expect Juan Pierre to accept a role as anything other than as a starter. After all, that's all he has ever done. I must say that watching him play on television is very different from seeing him play in person. As a Dodger fan it is un-nerving to watch him throw a ball that has fallen in for a hit back to the infield. Every runner with above average speed immediately gets at least one extra base. Everyone knows that this is going to happen before the play starts. On offense, why don't you just stand there and meekly wave your arms with a bat in your hands? That is all that is happening with Juan at the plate, with very good hand-eye coordination. When Juan is up, the outfielders know to play in close to the infield. As a numer one or number two hitter in the line-up, after the first inning, later in the game with a runner on third and less than two out, the sacrafice fly is not in order. Try to work the count? Does that mean I do everything that I can to minimize my walk totals? Swing, swing, and swing again. When in doubt, swing. With such a good eye to put the bat on the ball, why doesn't it follow that you should know a ball from a strike? I know, I know, never trust an umpire. Would Juan be a good number nine hitter in the AL? As a fan, Juan wore me out last year. A true gamer, he plays like a machine. As a left fielder? I prefer some power from that position. It looks like Juan has been placed in a no win situation by the man that signed him. So my suggestion is this, please find another organization for Juan Pierre where he will fit in better with the team's needs.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't of said it better myself. I keep hoping that one day he'll just be gone.. I'll wake up and find out he's been traded, or that he's being sent to AAA, or best yet he's retiring for the good of the team. But no, everyday, I wake up, and the nightmare has not ended. Gives a whole new meaning to 4 MORE YEARS.

Griffster said...

I noticed in a recent Pierre article he's mentioned that he'll consider waiving his no-trade ( why on earth did he get one of those ) if he can't be a starter.

While he's only ever been a starter, it isn't reasonable to expect a team to cripple itself just to keep him a starter, either. The Dodgers really need power. They shouldn't have signed Pierre in the first place, of course. He's always been a bad fit. On a team with plenty of power and no, uhm, speed, he would fit better.

As an aside, I notice that Coco Crisp of the Red Sox is also making "trade me if I don't start" noises. So, there's another center fielder in Pierre's spot. That market will be crowded!