Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Juan Pierre’s Magical Spell of Idiocy

What the hell? Really? You know, in the Harry Potter books there’s a guy named Gilderoy Lockhart. He’s the “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher one year. Everyone thinks he’s a great adventurer who has found treasure and killed dragons. In actuality he just claims to do all of these things and casts a spell on anyone who finds out about his fraud that causes them to forget everything. I think Juan Pierre may have developed this magical ability. How else to explain this:

Last time he played in Chicago, Juan Pierre left with a fortune, signing for $44 million over five years with the Dodgers.

Yes, the Dodger front office is crazy stupid sometimes, we know that, but…

This time -- on the South Side not the North -- Pierre will try to overcome his reputation as being overpaid and under-talented.

As I see it, there are two points to this equation. The first is that Pierre is “overpaid.” This we know from the first sentence of this column. The second is that he is under-talented. This we know from the fact that he is a low-OBP leadoff man with no power who makes a ton of outs and gets caught stealing at too high of a percentage. And who can’t play a credible center field anymore. So to disprove this reputation will probably require some amnesia-dust or forget-me-hex or something. Maybe a secret room in the bowels of The Cell where White Sox employees cut out old Tribune box scores and pastes in new ones that turn Juan Pierre into a great power hitter who walks all the time a la 1984. Something like that.

His time away did little but make Pierre rich and clearly money could not buy him happiness.

Well boo-frickin-hoo.

So he was overjoyed Tuesday when the White Sox traded two minor league pitchers to be named later to make him what could be the final piece of the puzzle for 2010.

That puzzle is a reproduction of an obscure Picasso painting in which a cubist baseball player is depicted grounding out, getting caught stealing, and not being able to throw the ball all the way in to the infield all in that particularly single-dimension cubist way. It’s actually pretty rare. Picasso allegedly created as an experiment in the Cubist potential for depicting motion in multiple perspectives, and because he needed to pay off a huge bar tab. Maybe they can sell it to make up for the money they’ll lose when they don’t make the playoffs because of Juan Pierre.

Exactly what does the trade mean for the Sox? Let's take a look:

This must be the part where they explain that giving up prospects for Juan Pierre is insanity, as is hitting him in the leadoff spot, and building a speedy team in a power hitter’s park. Man am I looking forward to…

--No more Scott Podsednik. One of the heroes from the 2005 World Series championship and an unexpected catalyst in his second go-round in 2009 is now history, a victim of his own demands.

I will admit that ditching Pods is a victory, and that his demands were insane. I also might point out, however, that he won’t actually get what he demands, that he may end up being cheaper than even the subsidized Juan Pierre, and he wouldn’t cost any prospects.

Podsednik, 34 in March, hit .304 with 30 stolen bases in 43 attempts last season. Pierre, 32, hit .308 with 30 steals in 42 tries.,

There is one meaningful stat in that sentence. Pierre is in fact two years younger than Pods. That said guys whose value is tied up in their speed tend to be bad whether they’re 32 or 34.

"It really isn't about apples and apples because I don't know if we were ever close to signing Scott," general manager Ken Williams said.

The Sox will pay Pierre $3 million in 2010 and $5 million in 2011 (the Dodgers will pay for their mistake by adding $10.5 million). They weren't willing to give Podsednik a multiyear deal, even though he would have come cheaper.

The silly thing about this article is that they’re comparing Pierre to a player who actually is probably worse, but they’re both bad players. Juan actually had a nice little season last year, putting up an OBP of .365, but the 4 years before that he was in the .320s, which is closer to the “real” Juan Pierre. They should compare him to some actual leadoff men. And for what it’s worth, Pods is pretty much the same guy. His OBP has been around .320 forever until last year when he had a career year. Both of these players are bad players coming off of career years who are unlikely to repeat those years. It’s like everyone somehow magically forgot that these guys are lousy. Hmmm….

Truth is, Pierre has proven to be a better leadoff hitter

AHHHH!!! I knew it! This guy is insane. The forgetting spell has worked! He must not know about Juan’s OBP and…

(despite a .348 on-base percentage, he rarely strikes out),

It’s worse than I thought. This poor guy hasn’t lost his memory. He’s lost the ability to read stats generated after 2004 by a then 26 year old Pierre. Otherwise he would see that Pierre’s OBP is closer to .335 over the past 5 seasons, which is artificially inflated by a big outlier last year which again, is unlikely to repeat itself. He also doesn’t realize that when leading off there are no people on base, and so putting the ball in play for an out is NO DIFFERENT than striking out.

a far better bunter,

The last refuge of a desperate sportswriter. It’s nice to know how to bunt, but unless you’re a national league pitcher, it is probably the least valuable skill you can have as a baseball player. Especially when you play in the NL, and the pitcher hits in front of you, and will therefore almost never be on base, and will therefore, almost never need sacrificing.

a much better baserunner,

Scott Podsednik is a terrible baserunner. However, this is still like claiming that my 1994 LeCar has sturdier cup holders than your 89 Dodge Omni. Both players are thrown out too often on the basepaths.

a slightly better outfielder and certainly a better fit for manager Ozzie Guillen, who became an admirer as a coach when both were with the world champion Marlins in 2003, when Pierre stole a career-high and NL-best 65 bases.

He was also caught stealing a league-high 20 times, making his success rate about 76%, which is right around the break-even point. What I find strange about this is that Ozzie Guillen won a World Series behind a power lineup, not behind a speed lineup. By being impressed with Pierre he’s going away from what made him a winner.

This is what Williams said about Pierre's value that he never said about Podsednik: "I love the guy's work ethic, his intensity; he adds a lot more than what he does on the field (although) what he does on the field is pretty special."

Everything in this sentence is true about me as well, and if the White Sox would like to sign me to a 2-year, $8-million contract to poorly patrol their outfield and make a lot of outs, I'm game. And we’re both “special” on the field too.

You know, all of a sudden I feel an upswell in the magical particles in the air, much like how Qui-Gon Jinn can tell how many force bacteria live inside Anakin Skywalker. It’s almost as if…

--No more Jim Thome?

Oh, he’s not going to…

That's likely because Guillen would rather pass around the DH spot than have the same player there every day,

It’s getting stupider, can you feel it? It’s almost here…

especially one that clogs up the bases.

YES! YES! IT’S ALMOST 2010 AND WE’RE STILL SAYING IT! UNBELIEVEABLE! Dave van Dyck, congratulations, you probably have said the phrase “clog up the bases” in a serious fashion for the final time of the decade. I think we should make some sort of pronouncement or at least bestow you with some kind of moron hat, maybe with a statue of Dusty Baker perched stoically atop? Well, at least it can’t get any stupider. This is the epitome of stupid baseball writing. We’ve got Juan Pierre, Jim Thome clogging the bases, what more could you ask for?

And Williams says he won't "do anything that conflicts with what my manager wants."

So would Guillen be completely satisfied with his team the way it is now, with extras Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones getting plenty of playing time in a DH/outfield/first base rotation?

Wow. Jim Thome is old, however, until he became a pinch hitter for the Dodgers last year, Thome put up an .864 OPS, which is very similar to the .847 and .865 marks he put up the two years prior. Unless he hits a sudden major decline (which is certainly possible as the guy is 39 years old), it is reasonable to expect more of the same (as he has been old for awhile now). Andruw Jones hasn’t sniffed an .800 OPS since his last two probably steroidy seasons with the Braves in 2005 and 2006. Kotsay hasn’t sniffed an .800 OPS since 2004. And it’s not like these guys are spring chickens either. But at least the White Sox will improve their defense at DH. Oh, wait…

"Absolutely, yes," Guillen said in a conference call. "It's a more athletic ballclub and can do a lot of things. I'm very excited because it's going to be fun. You will see a different ballclub. I was looking for a challenge, looking to see how good I can be."

Screw hitting. Who needs hitting from your DH? What does DH stand for again? Designated...uhm..Helper Monkey? That's probably it. Designated Helper Money. Why not DHM though...?

--A different lineup. Guillen said either Gordon Beckham or Alexei Ramirez will bat second, although he prefers Beckham in an RBI role in the middle of the order.

Alexei and his .326 OBP will fit right in to the beginning of this lineup. Good luck with those RBIs, Gordon Beckham!

As for the outfield alignment, Pierre will play left, Alex Rios center and Carlos Quentin right. And Pierre expects to play every day after sitting for much of his first two years in L.A., or as he calls it, in the "witness protection program."

How dare the Dodgers bury their light-hitting, poor fielding fourth outfielder behind Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier! Those guys are terrible. I mean, sure Manny doubled Juan's VORP in the same number of PAs, and sure those 3 outfielder were the team’s 3 most valuable offensive players, and sure they all play better defense than juan does, (well, maybe not Manny), but where do they get off?

"I had two years (of rest), so my legs have been saved up," he said. "If it's up to me, I'd like to be out there 162 games."

It’s true. I’ve been resting my arms for like 15 years and I just went out and dead-lifted 800 pounds.

From 2003-2007, Pierre played in 162 games each season. That includes 2006 with the Cubs.

--A future that could suffer. Williams is always in a win-now mode, so if minor league pitcher John Ely really is included in the deal, it could affect the pitching staff down the line.

Ely, 23, was 14-2 with a 2.82 earned-run average at Double-A Birmingham. He was a third-round pick in 2007.

Yeah, but you should always risk your future for a highly replaceable, old, bad leadoff hitter. Everyone knows that. Ely’s top PECOTA comp is Edinson Volquez, by the way.

--A media-savvy player. Pierre's one season in Chicago left him open for criticism, despite the Cubs making the playoffs. And his three years in L.A. were, well, they were tough.

"Those three years made me strong as an individual," he said. "Me and the fans came a long way. I didn't hit for power, I didn't have an arm. I've been criticized so much the last few years, I guess I'm prepared for the Chicago media again, that's for sure.

Note that those criticisms are all true.

"There's not too much more that can be said about me that hasn't been. But I'm quite sure some other thing will float up."

This article is certainly a floater, if you know what I mean. Juan Pierre Amnesia continues to plague the country. If you see anyone who you think may be infected, please, back away slowly, turn, and run as fast as you can, because that person is insane.


Anonymous said...
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Lenny Bruce said...

"Scott Podsednik is a terrible baserunner. However, this is still like claiming that my 1994 LeCar has sturdier cup holders than your 89 Dodge Omni."

Best Line Ever