CLEVELAND, OH: Juan Pierre #1 of the Chicago White Sox dives to miss a close pitch during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Phillies are reportedly close to signing Juan Pierre. It's a minor-league deal, but here's a guess that he'll get a lot more playing time than you think.
Oh, man, coffee everywhere. I didn't think that spit takes were real -- thought they were just a Hollywood invention. But here we are, you cleaning your computer and me writing about the Phillies' interest in Juan Pierre. From Jon Heyman:
juan pierre likely to sign with phils (as @JSalisburyCSN 1st said suggested). expected to be minor-league deal
Amaro just told us that Mayberry and Nix will be the left field platoon unless Domonic Brown really wows them in ST otherwise he goes to AAA
Let's say you're a manager. It can be any manager, but if you want to pretend you're a specific one -- say, someone who reminds you of Foghorn Leghorn on barbiturates -- go ahead. Now pretend you're filling out a lineup card. Nix. Nix. You know that name, but you can't remember if it's Laynce or Jayson or Dayve or Paytrick ...
But over there on the end of the bench is Juan Pierre. Speedy little fellow. Hits 'em where they ain't. He's a real sparkplug who can get things going and distract the opposing pitcher. I'm not going to say that's how all managers think. But a couple of them do, at least. And a GM who puts Pierre in the hands of such a manager is an enabler.
I don't know enough about Charlie Manuel to know how Pierre would fit into his worldview. He might look at Pierre and think the same thing as all of us -- say, there's a limited player who might be useful as a 25th man and fifth outfielder.
Be afraid, though, if you're a Phillies fan. Be afraid that Manuel looks at Pierre and thinks ".290 and steals! .290 and steals! .290 and steals!" because a lot of managers might. Pierre's a poor defender without a lick of power, and he led the American League in unsuccessful stolen-base attempts last year -- the seventh time in his career he's led his league in that category. He shouldn't be a starter any more.
All that stands between him and 400 at-bats, though, is Laynce Nix, who has cracked the .300 OBP barrier just once in nine seasons, and who struggles to make contact. He seems like the type of player who could go into a gutter slump early. You look up, it's May, and he's hitting .192/.253/.290. And who's that at the end of the bench, waving his little arms, trying to get the manager's attention? Well, I'll be ...
As a fifth outfielder? Sure, that's fine. Some smart folks are even lobbying for the idea. But for most managers, the temptation of a speedy .290 hitter is too much to resist, even if he's an oft-nabbed .270 hitter at this point. If you have confidence that Charlie Manuel can resist that temptation, please ignore this article. If there's a kernel of doubt in your mind, though, allow me to play the part of a local news team that feeds off your panic. Juan Pierre: Are your children safe?
And as a side note, I'm thinking that Domonic Brown should just grab Brandon Belt and head to Montreal, where they can make their own damn jerseys, get a few more players, and play a season as the Expos. Maybe Selig won't notice.