(If I ever give up on the Mets, I'm going to become a Dodgers fan. Would I ever be able to maintain the blog if I did?)
Interesting to see Joe Torre's lineup card tonight, featuring Juan Pierre as his #2 hitter. The little guy is on a hot streak as of late and has actually raised his OPS+ over the 100 mark, a mark he's only topped once over an entire season in his nine-year career. Torre would be still be better served using Pierre as a fourth outfielder/pinch runner, while starting Andre Ethier in left field. (Matt Kemp seems to have locked down right field, a happy development for Dodgers fans.) But since Pierre is hot, it's not so bad seeing him that high in the lineup.
The problem is that Pierre's only real skill is speed - he's a good contact hitter who is highly unlikely to hit anything other than a single. Defensively, Pierre still covers ground and rarely makes mistakes, but has an arm like a wet noodle. Like Luis Castillo on the New York Mets, he's better served hitting out of the eighth spot in the lineup, where his speed and his usual .330 OBP could be more artfully deployed to get past the pitcher.
Pierre has been much maligned after signing a $5 year, $44 million deal with the Dodgers in 2007. It's a horrible deal for a player who is incredibly overrated, of course, but the money is already going to be spent. Torre shouldn't be blocking Ethier in the first place, but he has a responsibility to minimize Pierre's negative effect on the offense by batting him lower in the lineup - regardless of how much Frank McCourt is paying him.