Off Base
The Juan Pierre Dilemma

December 12 , 2007

There are worse things than having Juan Pierre on your roster. Why, in Boston alone, there's J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo.

$23 million for two pretty-damn-close-to-useless ballplayers. Miracle upon miracles, the Red Sox won the 2007 World Championship anyway.

Say what you will about Juan Pierre's "banjo hitting" and "Little League arm." I won't argue. But, you can win a championship with Juan Pierre on your club. It's been done.

And believe it or not, there is value to Juan Pierre. Ned Colletti is essentially correct when he calls Pierre "a complementary player." That's a very good way to describe the man.

J.P. hits .300, plays every single day, runs the bases well, and can track down almost any fly ball in America, catching a sizable portion of them.

Of course, while the Dodgers say Pierre is a "good clubhouse guy," they said the same thing about Luis Gonzalez, and ended up thinking the exact opposite. Who knows what "good clubhouse guy" even means anymore. And don't even get me started on the dreaded C-word. You know; chemistry.

But, contrary to common belief, the Dodgers are not compelled to trade Juan Pierre on an asap basis. There's no reason to dump or eat his large salary now, today. As much as we might like to have things wrapped up in a nice neat package, perhaps even for Christmas, the team is not obliged to banish the little guy, and they certainly don't have to do it quickly.

Ozzie Guillen has already played his hand, making the Chicago White Sox as a good a trading partner as anyone. Los Angeles might even get something decent in return. The Padres need all kinds of outfielders, Minnesota has an opening, and perhaps even Atlanta would work.

There are always things you can do. Pierre is a professional outfielder, who, and I know I'm going out on a limb here, I think it's safe to say, doesn't use performance enhancing anything. And he has a ring. He's just no longer a fit for the Dodgers, that's all. No biggie. The club can sit back and wait for a good deal to come along. It will.

Starting today, Andruw Jones is officially a Los Angeles Dodger. My advice to you, reader, is to forget any and all talk of Pierre opening the 2008 season in left field, with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier either battling for or sharing right. It's not going to happen. No way. Pierre will be traded eventually, and probably before Spring Training.

As for Jones, I don't care one bit how much money he's making. I'll gladly pay an extra quarter for a Dodger Dog; fifty cents if they actually cook the damn thing. Yes, Jones was clueless at the plate in 2007; a cross between Richie Sexson and Dave Kingman clueless, but he'll approach his career averages in 2008. Ethier, Jones and Kemp will make a fine outfield. Just let them play.

What the Dodgers need is a legitimate fourth outfielder, someone who can play all three spots solidly for days or weeks at a time, who hits enough, and contributes to a club in a variety of ways. Pinch hitting, pinch running, laying down a bunt.

Shannon Stewart is the perfect guy. Like Marquis Grissom in 2002, but with a higher batting average and on base percentage. Jason Repko, perhaps in theory, but who knows what, if anything, Repko has in him now. Stewart would be absolutely ideal. He should be signed tomorrow, before Kevin Towers gets a good idea.

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

More Dodgers Doings: Tony Jackson of the Daily News reports that the Dodgers are still considering re-signing Mike Lieberthal to back up Russell Martin behind the plate, but are also looking at Gary Bennett and Damian Miller. Excellent choices. You can't go wrong with any of the three, but in case of injury to Martin, Lieberthal provides the shortest drop off offensively, and therefore is the best choice.

Mike Sweeney and Rudy Seanez should be re-signed quickly too. The delay is silly.

Nice of Jeff Kent to come back for his final $9 million. Whatever. I suppose Joe Torre will handle the ornery old second baseman in ways that Grady Little couldn't, but it'll be really interesting to see if Torre has the balls to move Kent out of the cleanup spot, to say, sixth, which would make complete sense.

With Kent returning, the Dodgers have three fourths of the proverbial "strength up the middle." That's two fourths (or for you fractions aficionados, half) of an improvement over last year.

Baseball on Drugs: George Mitchell's report comes out tomorrow. Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all…..






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