December 17, 2014

So Long Juan Pierre…Hello John Ely and Jon Link!

Juan-PierreAhhh…the departure of Juan Pierre.  Looking back, it’s still amazing to me how polarizing Juan (and his contract) were to Dodger fans everywhere.  It’s crazy to think how many arguments I got in with friends and fellow fans over his value to the team (will we ever forget Beast Mode?).  As noted previously on this site, I was (and still am) a huge Juan Pierre fan.  I loved his speed on the base paths, and whether in the clubhouse or in the dugout, Juan always had a smile on his face.

From the Dodgers’ press release:

“Juan always put the Dodgers first, even when it wasn’t in his personal best interest,” said Colletti. “In this day, that is a rare attribute. When he and I spoke at the end of the season, we agreed that if an opportunity presented itself in which his chance to play would be enhanced, we would pursue it and that’s what we’ve done. He deserved the chance to play more.”

During his three seasons with Los Angeles , Pierre batted .294 with a .339 on-base percentage and 134 stolen bases in 173 attempts. Last season, his 10th in the Majors, Pierre hit .308 (117-for-380) with a .365 on-base percentage in 145 games.

And as all Dodger fans will remember, Juan’s ability to not just fill in but excel when Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games was amazing.  What was even more amazing was how he returned silently to the bench when Ramirez returned to the lineup.  Still, it was time for Juan to go…he never would have been a legitimate starter for the Dodgers, and the fourth outfielder spot really should go to an up-and-comer like Jason Repko or Xavier Paul.

As for the trade itself, I thought Ned did a great job.  Not only did he save over $8 million over the next two years, but he aquired two righties: John Ely and John Link.  Ely is 23 and last year had a 14-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 27 starts with Double-A Birmingham.  He also led the Southern League in strikeouts (125) and was tied for the lead in victories…not bad!

The 25 year-old Link had 13 saves for Triple-A Charlotte  last year with a 3.99 ERA in 48 relief appearances.

Time will tell if these guys pan out (the Chicago mediaand bloggers are pretty dubious on this, given the White Sox inability to develop much in the way of pitching from their minor league system).  Still, Ned likes these guys and told “Mason & Ireland” on 710 ESPN that he’s received some calls from other teams asking about the pitchers.

Photo credit: Yahoo News

Jarrod Washburn to Dodgers? But for Who?

Jarrod Washburn

Jarrod Washburn

So the hot trade rumor right now involving the Dodgers involves Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bloch:

The Dodgers are interested in the Seattle Mariners starter, a durable left-hander who could bolster an injury-plagued rotation. Washburn has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his 14 starts this season. He also likes Dodger Stadium.
“It’s a great park and there’s always a big crowd and the team’s winning, so that would be good,” Washburn said Friday before the Mariners played the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
Interestingly, according to the Bleacher Report, Washburn has the second lowest run support out of all AL pitchers in his tenure with the Mariners.  In addition, left-handers are hitting .147 against him and he’s one of the hardest pitchers in the majors to steal against.
I’m definitely of the opinion that the Mariners need a quality arm to make their way through the post-season.  First, they need an innings eater.  The bullpen has been fantastic this year, but Torre can’t continue to go to them in the middle of games.  Let’s ride the confidence of these young guys, but not wear them out. 
Teams that have the most success in the post-season often have two #1 quality starters.  While the Dodgers have a great young pitching staff, they need another veteran arm that’s used to pitching under pressure and can go deep into games.  Is a nearly 35 year-old Washburn the answer?  He’s not the sexy choice, but the price may be right (rumor has it that the cost would be Juan Pierre).  I love having Juan as the speedy fourth outfielder, especially while Furcal’s base running slump continues (just four stolen bases this year to go along with a .238 AVG), but I’m fine moving him if it helps us win the ultimate prize.  There’s something to be said for moving guys with impossible contracts when their value is at an all-time high.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

When Manny Returns…

With Manny Ramirez taking his swings in Albuquerque and getting back into shape for his July 3rd return, the big question revolves around Juan Pierre and his role with the Dodgers…

In Manny’s absence, Juan has been a blessing for the team…his 71 hits (4th on the team), .327 average (tops on the team amongst the regulars) and 17 stolen bases (2nd on the team) are great numbers for a leadoff man…

From what I’ve read and heard on the radio, there are some things the Dodgers may consider in the coming weeks…

  • Trade him while is stock is high and reduce our payroll…that seems to be a very logical move and I’m sure some teams would be interested in a quality leadoff guy in their lineup…the positives for the Dodgers would be the reduction in payroll and maybe getting something good in return…
  • Keep him on the roster and relegate him to the bench…the positive for the Dodgers is Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are the top-3 outfielders and deserve their starting roles…my fear is this would take away Juan’s momentum that he has built during Manny’s absence and we may see a drop in his productivity if he’s not in the lineup everyday…
  • Keep him on the roster, but give him a few starts here and there to give Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier a break…this works for me because you want to give guys a day off every once in a while to keep them fresh and allow them to be at full strength for what we all hope will be a long playoff run…PLUS, what if Ethier gets hurt?…what if Kemp runs into the outfield wall and is out for a couple weeks?…having an experienced outfielder available will do nothing but help the team…giving him a few starts here and there will keep him in “game” mode when called upon…

One thing I have thought about is this…

Have Ramirez, Kemp and Ethier be the starting outfield trio with Pierre on the bench…in the 6th or 7th inning, when we often see pinch hitters batting for our pitcher, use that as a time to get Pierre his first at bat of the game…

When the team takes the field for the next half inning, put Pierre into the game in left or center and you can move around the outfielders as you see fit (ie – if he replaces Kemp, Juan can play center…if he replaced Ramirez, Juan can play left…if he replaces Either, Kemp can move to right and Juan plays center)…

This will serve a couple purposes:

  • give one of the outfielders 2-3 innings “off” for that game…rather than having them rest for a whole game, give them their 9 innings of rest over 7-8 games…
  • Pierre will probably get 2 plate appearances per game if he comes in during the 6th or 7th inning…if you figure he does this 5-6 times per week, that’s 10-15 plate appearances per week which is better than giving him 6-10 as a bench player who pinch hits or fills in on occasion as a starter for the starters…
  • If Pierre comes in and pinch hits for the pitcher, most likely that means he’s batting 9th in the order and will bat in front of the projected leadoff man, Rafael Furcal…doesn’t Pierre/Furcal batting back-to-back sound familiar???…that’s what they do now!

Anyway, all this is just talk, but it’s something to think about as we anticipate the return of Manny to the lineup…whatever Joe Torre decides, I’m all for it (so long as we keep winning!).

Pre-Game Thoughts with Joe Torre, Stan Conte and Mike Scioscia

All comments from Joe Torre unless otherwise noted:

On the Angels: “They are a good ball club, no question about it.  They know how to play, they’ve had success, they’re very aggressive.  And obviously you want to keep the speed guys off the base which isn’t easy ’cause they’re a lot of them in the lineup.”

On the Freeway Series: “There’s always a certain amount of energy that’s brought to the ballpark…from both cities.  I always find that the players, whatever the rivalry is….they they feed off the energy in the ballpark.  I expect it to be that way tonight.”

On Xavier Paul’s Staph Infection on his Left Leg : “He’s in the hospital, but he’s going to be fine.  Everything points to starting the recovery, but obviously it’s going to be a while before he plays baseball.”

On Xavier Paul’s Staph Infection on his Left Leg (from Director of Medical Services Stan Conte): “Xavier had a previous infection that was classified as MRSA which is a type of staph infection that is resistant to a lot of the antibiotics, so it’s difficult to treat.  It was treated successfully, he was fine for a period of time.  In Florida, he slid for that catch that he made.  He had a little, small scrape on his knee, which is not uncommon with any baseball player.  On Tuesday morning, he called us and said it was a little red.  We looked at it Tuesday morning, sent him to the doctor who cultured it, put him on an antibiotic that works effectively with MRSA.  By Wednesday after the game he had a full-blown infection – it happened that fast.  We sent him to USC Hospital, Infectious Disease.  After the game…I took him over there, put him on IV antibiotics, which is the course, and drained the skin, cleared it up of a lot of the infection.  He’s at USC and doing well.  His swelling and infection is resolving, but he’ll probably be in there a couple more days.”

On When Xavier Paul May Play Again (Stan Conte): “We won’t let him play or sweat until that skin is completely closed. I won’t really know until we see how that is and how that resolves, but it definitely could be weeks.”

On Corey Wade:“As far as roles on this club, Corey Wade, we know he’s an eighth inning guy and when Corey’s not available, we pretty much let the situation dictate who is pitching the eighth.”

On Will Ohman and Brent Leach:“Ohman’s been like a one hitter guy, and I think that’s the role we’re going to use him in for now…where we’re sitting now, the way Leach is pitching, it’s nice to have two of them where you can use one early and one late.”

On Juan Pierre: “I’ve never been around anybody who works as hard as he does, as far as the time he puts in doing what he does.”

On the Freeway Series (from Mike Scioscia):  “As far as Southern California fans, yeah, you definitely sense it walking around town.  I was walking around my house today, people were saying ‘Go get ‘em…good luck.’ They know we’re playing the Dodgers.”

Let the All-Star Voting Begin!

2009 MLB All-Star Game

With the season just about 1/4 over, it’s time to begin turning our attention towards the 2009 All-Star Game and voting for the right Dodgers to represent in St. Louis at the Midsummer Classic this year.  According to the voting rules, fans can vote online up to 25 times through July 2nd, as well as at the stadium (of course).

Needless to say, there are a number of intriguing options for LA fans to choose from, and we’ll be analyzing those over the course of the coming weeks.  Of course, the one situation that stands out is that Manny Ramirez is listed on the ballot and Juan Pierre is not.  While Pierre has been a breakout star of the team this year, I for one am a little dubious that he can maintain these super-human numbers over the course of the season (let alone the All-Star break).  Still, does he deserve All-Star consideration?  Absolutely.  The guy has been a key part of the Dodgers success since the Manny Ramirez suspension and his attitude has just been fantastic.  The guy is a gamer and wants to play, and for that I have nothing but respect.

Here’s where Pierre and Ramirez stand now, head to head.  Obviously Manny is suspended through the completion of All-Star voting, but Juan has a chance to significantly improve his stats and mount a legitimate write-in campaign.

                          At Bats   H   HR   RBI   AVG   SB   OBP   SLG

Juan Pierre      74        31   0       12   .412     7     .476  .554

M. Ramirez      92        32   6       20   .348    0     .492   .642  

Pierre apparently doesn’t have enough at bats to rank in the official MLB stats, but what’s even more interesting is that Manny Ramirez doesn’t either (a player needs an average of 3.1 plate appearances per game to qualify).  Still, can you imagine Manny Ramirez being elected to the All-Star Game this year?  Given that the voting tends to be more of a popularity contest than a true appreciation of fantastic play, it should be very interesting to see where Manny Ramirez’s name falls in the voting rankings.

Start thinking about those All-Star votes and we’ll see you at the ballpark!