Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Cubs Getting Pierre
2005-12-07 05:29
by Derek Smart

The Cubs and Marlins have tentatively agreed to a deal that would send Juan Pierre to the Cubs in exchange for some minor league pitching. The piece has them trading a package that includes Renyel Pinto and Ricky Nolasco, while Jayson Stark of ESPN names those two players and specifies Sergio Mitre as the other piece of the puzzle. For now, I'll assume the more specific report is the most accurate.

Having essentially just awakened to the news, I've yet to fully digest it, but my initial reaction is that the team has paid too much for a drastically overrated player who stands a decent chance of being a one-year rental. Allow me, if you will, to re-hash my comments on Pierre from Assuming The Position:

Let me start by disclosing that I simply don't see what all the fuss is about. Never have, never will. I get that he's fast, and gee willikers that's great, but when that's your only discernible skillset aren't you required by the laws of physics to morph into Tom Goodwin?

Reckless aspersion casting you say? Perhaps, as it's true Pierre is slightly better with the stick, but his superiority in that regard hinges almost entirely on his batting average - a career .305 compared to Goodwin's .268 - while everything else is essentially the same or a little worse.

Goodwin had a better walk rate - Pierre walks once every 16.6 PAs in his career, while Goodwin took a pass every 11.8 - and nearly identical isolated power, all while having a higher stolen base success rate (75.8% to 73.6%) and playing better defense in center field according their career RATE2 (99 to Pierre's 97, where 100 is average). In fact, Pierre's 2005 was essentially Tom Goodwin V2003, only with a lot more opportunities to waste outs.

It's still not pretty to see, yet in spite of that I'm inclined to consider Pierre an acceptable stopgap, if that is, indeed, how he's used. My issue at this point stems more from the price paid than anything else, and as I said, I'm not sure how much of that is logic and how much is being groggy and grumpy in the light of morning.

Hopefully, more later when I'm more awake and better able to form a reasoned opinion.

2005-12-07 05:48:58
1.   Lefty
It's not just being grumpy. I had a good night sleep and I've been up for a while. It still sucks.

Hendry reminds me of my 7 year old. When we go to the toy store and they don't have the item we went there for, he'll just take anything so he doesn't go home empty-handed.

2005-12-07 06:19:46
2.   rynox
Nah, I think he's just what the Cubs need. Not only that, but he's a clubhouse guy and all around hard worker.

And we seem to forget how much of a pest he is as our opposing pitchers tried to pitch to him.

But the best news of all is one of the better leadoff guys in the league will be batting exactly two spots in front of Lee. I'm elated.

2005-12-07 06:39:57
3.   Lefty

How exactly is he one of the better leadoff hitters in the league?

2005-12-07 07:02:07
4.   rynox
Of course he's one of the better leadoff guys! I wouldn't say he IS the best, but of the available leadoff guys, I would say he's the best. I'm sort of relieved, now, the Cubs didn't dish out $17 mil for Furcal. Pierre makes what? $4-5mil. I'm sorry, but the extra 20-30 OBP points Furcal has on Pierre is not worth 13mil/year.

Also, check out:

But if you had a leadoff guy in mind... by all means, who were you hoping the Cubs would get?


2005-12-07 07:32:54
5.   Lefty
I don't care if he was the best available, he's not a very good player. But the truth is, I don't care about getting a leadoff hitter just to say we have one. Just suppose, for argument's sake, we had Edmonds in CF and Guerrero in RF. Do you think Walker would suffice in the leadoff spot?

The Cubs had the worst offensive OF in the NL last year. Let's improve on that and figure out the order later. The only defensible counterargument is that Hendry and Baker wanted a typical, late-1970s, since discredited, leadoff man. This is more of an argument for firing Baker and Hendry than it is trading for Pierre.

2005-12-07 07:52:50
6.   Sandus
I'm trying to look at the deal from a positive perspective. Mitre had to be traded because he was 7th in line for a starting job despite being major league ready.

I don't want to look at it in terms of money either, considering the team is $30+ million below their desired $100 million budget.

What the Cubs have really gotten here is a player who does things that no Cubs player has been capable of since the departure of Kenny Lofton--he can bunt consistently and effectively, and he makes smart baserunning decisions.

Was I all that enamored with him in the first place? Not particularly. Will I take him? I guess so.

I would just like to see a little more of that $30M allocated before the end of the month.

2005-12-07 07:59:56
7.   The Boar
"The only defensible counterargument is that Hendry and Baker wanted a typical, late-1970s, since discredited, leadoff man. This is more of an argument for firing Baker and Hendry than it is trading for Pierre."

Unfortunately, you're right, but that doesn't change things. We still needed a leadoff hitter. And I think we got a pretty decent one in Juan Pierre.

You're right in saying that Juan Pierre version 2005 was not a very good player. He was okay. In 2003 and 2004, however, Pierre was a good player and arguably a very good player. While his defense and arm aren't as good relatively as, say, Furcal's, his OBP and average were arguably better. He's 28, has a .300 lifetime average, a .355 lifetime OBP and three 200+ hit seasons. If he can get fairly close to returning to his '03-04 numbers, I'll be very pleased.

In my mind, let's go out now and see if we can get a true RF slugger. Hendry didn't lose Pie in the Pierre deal, so we should see who we could get for dealing Pie now. Manny, anyone?

2005-12-07 09:47:28
8.   rynox
Great point about improving offense, but let us not be ignorant of the fact that, despite Derrek Lee's amazing year with the bat, his RBI's were relatively low. Basically they weren't getting guys on base in front of him. RBIs=Offense=Wins

A lineup full of homerun hitters is not viable and worthless @ Petco or on days when the wind is blowing in.


2005-12-07 12:37:32
9.   hippolyte
I, for one, will never forget Pierre's carriage in the Marlins 2003 march to the title. Each time he came to bat you worried and each time he made it to base you were downright scared he'd break the game open. He's a gamer and brings a level of aggression to the Cubs I haven't seen in a position player since . . . Kenny Lofton, I guess.

Pinto, Nolasco, Mitre? Time will tell, but remember there were several other teams bidding for Pierre as well. The bottom line, here, is that Juan Pierre is a MAJOR IMPROVEMENT over what we had in center field last year. He also allows Felix Pie to polish in Iowa instead of trying to jump to the majors from AA.

Hendry's working his way through the shopping list; dropping out of the bidding on marquee talent when the big wallets come to play, but putting together plausible options nonetheless. Nine months from now, I think, we'll all be wondering why we thought Garciaparra was through, not whether Pierre can get the job done.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.