Manny Ramirez is not in Dodger camp and Juan Pierre may be the only one happy about it.
Pierre is a lifetime .300 hitter and the active major leaguer with the most career stolen bases with 429 lifetime. In 2007, Pierre was the hardest player in baseball to strikeout at just 5.5%. His 64 stolen bases was second in the league. He’s also the best bunter in the business and had 19 bunt hits in the 207 season. So, it’s hard to believe that this is a guy who may be without a job in April.
With the untimely demise of Andruw Jones last year, the center field job in Los Angeles clearly belongs to Matt Kemp. The right field job was won by Andre Ethier-the player who benefited the most after the man with baggy pants and dreadlocks arrived in Tinseltown.
That leaves left field open. And, Pierre knows what will happen if Manny shows up at the Dodgers’ new spring training camp in Phoenix.
“I played 60-some games last year,” said Pierre. “Use your logic.”
Actually, Pierre started 71 games and got 375 at bats–a far cry from what he’s used to. Pierre played all 162 games in 2007 and had a minimum of 656 at bats in the previous five seasons. Pierre did spend 20 games on the disabled list last year after injuring his leg while sliding in a June 29 game; it was the first time in his nine year MLB career that he was on the DL. Certainly, the Dodgers didn’t intend him to be a bench player when they gave him a $45 million contract for five years in November, 2006.
“I’m used to playing every single day,” said Pierre who appeared in 821 consecutive games until missing the home opener in 2008. “If this organization thinks I’ll be happy making money and sitting on the bench, they signed the wrong guy.”
Pierre, who was named after Juan Marichal, is a solid fantasy baseball outfielder given his stolen base totals and consistent batting average. Even as a part-timer last year, he stole 40 bases. Pierre is a nice compliment to the normal fantasy baseball outfield that is heavy in homeruns and Pierre certainly won’t help you there. He hit his first homerun in two years last season in Pittsburgh. But, with wheels like Pierre has, you certainly don’t want him swinging for the fences.
While Pierre might prefer that Ramirez not come back, one guy who would certainly want him back is Andre Ethier. Ethier batted second in the lineup in front of Ramirez. Ethier was the best hitter in baseball in September when he hit .462. So, in the unlikely event that Ramirez does not show up in Dodger blue, you’ll want to move Ethier down in your 2009 fantasy baseball outfielder rankings. Ethier needs Ramirez in the lineup behind him to be productive.
“I know what the consequences are,” said Pierre. “If he comes back, I’m the one who will be sitting.”