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Do As Ned Does, Not As He Says

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Ned Colletti on Juan Pierre:

"With his speed, he can ignite a lineup when the hitters behind him are above-average run producers," Colletti said. "I believe if we have three or four players with 90-plus RBIs and Juan does what Juan always does, he can score 125 runs and steal 60-plus bases with 200-plus hits. That is a very good complementary piece to a good club."

Now, this is a very inaccurate statement. One of the big false justifications for Pierre's existence is that his speed allows him to score more runs than the average leadoff hitter. Last year, Pierre primarily spent his time hitting first and second and scored 96 runs. The average leadoff hitter scored 110.56 runs and the average number two hitter scored 104.4 runs.  In 2006, Pierre hit in the leadoff spot for all but three games and scored 87 runs. The average leadoff hitter scored 109.1 runs in 2006. Pierre might score more runs than Frank Thomas if Frank Thomas had Pierre's on base percentage, but he still offers below average production.

Wrongness aside, I don't take this as any real endorsement of Juan Pierre. It's Ned Colletti's job to justify the biggest contract he ever handed out. He's not going to tell the press "yeah, Pierre does kind of suck, doesn't he? My bad." It's in Colletti's best interest to hype up Pierre both to make himself look good and to keep whatever little value Pierre has in a trade intact. What I think tells us the most about how Colletti feels about Pierre is the signing of Andruw Jones. Colletti realized that having Pierre as the full time center fielder wasn't going to work out, so he brought in Jones to replace him and make the lineup more productive. Colletti will continue to praise Pierre like he was Gandhi after the Salt March, but there mere fact that there's a debate over Pierre's playing time tells me that Ned did learn from his mistake.

I suppose the real answer will come when we look at Juan Pierre's plate appearances this year. If it's still in the 600s, then yes some combination of Ned Colletti and Joe Torre believe that either Juan Pierre is the way to victory, or Juan Pierre is owed so much money that we have to play him. If it happens then I guess we have an easy scapegoat if we miss the playoffs by one or two games. Either way, we win.

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Hong Chih Kuo has tightness in his arm yet again. Sad, but very predictable.

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Update [2008-3-5 11:38:27 by Andrew]:Tony Jackson insists that Joe Torre has already made up his mind and Juan Pierre is the regular left fielder. This isn't really news, I figured Pierre would get the majority of the at bats, it's just a question of if he starts 162 games or 120.