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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
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We've All Been There, Pierre
2008-03-30 20:35
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

You really have to feel for Juan Pierre. First he looked like his dog died before the game when he found out he would not be the starting LF, and then he was flat-out embarrassed on the field just now.

Pierre hit a single through the right side, but then was immediately picked off. He did not even make a move back to the bag and honestly looked as though his mind was off someplace else and he didn't even realize there was a baseball game going on.

You know this has to be tough for him, losing his spot, and the Dodger fans certainly were not helping. He was booed as he trudged back to the dugout and one heckler yelled "Go back to Florida, please" as though he were begging.

Always a classy guy, Pierre just looks like his heart is broken right about now.

- Kevin Pearson, Press-Enterprise

The best of us have all felt this low, and so seeing it in another evokes two sides of the sympathy coin. We understand the feeling, but the feeling's not special. Each of us can choose which of those responses to emphasize.

You can never really get inside a player's head simply from reading his newspaper quotes - for that matter, you can't always get inside a close friend's head even after hours of conversation - but I haven't seen much evidence of Pierre realizing, as has been said all along at Dodger Thoughts, the outfield competition has never been all about him. He keeps wondering aloud how he could lose his position when he's been the same player he has been all along. (He's correct, by the way, in saying that he shouldn't lose his position because of a poor Spring Training, but as Joshua Worley wrote at Dodgerama, "Irrationality owed us.") Pierre seems to keep waiting for someone to explain it as something more than arbitrary or a blanket desire for something different.

At least in terms of what's been printed, Pierre doesn't voice any recognition that everyone realizes he's exactly the same player he has always been - but that what's happened is three better outfielders have come along. It's as if Bob's Big Boy weren't able to understand why people have started to buy burgers elsewhere, even though it's still got the same ol' Bob's Big Boy statue outside it always has. Pierre can't, at least publicly, acknowledge the fact that you can now get a better burger elsewhere.

Now, I'm not saying he should be able to. We all have our blind spots - I know I have mine. To this day, there are disappointments in my overall rich life that I have never come to terms with. Some I'm in denial about, others I'm in defiant disagreement with, and some I've accepted but never quite understood.

So I sympathize with the disappointment of a man who believes in himself, even as I sympathize - even more, in this particular case - with the decision that brought on his disappointment. Because you know what? Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are people too, people who believe in themselves, and people who deserve their greater chance to boost the Dodgers.

* * *

Now, Monday is only the first day of the rest of the season, and there's no overwhelming reason to think that this demotion marks the last the world will ever hear of Juan Pierre. But I think there is something that, whether it needs to be emphasized or not, deserves to be emphasized.

The online analysts, the people who comment from outside the press box more often than inside, were right about this one. They're not always right, but this time, they were. They saw, based on what they observed from the players' performances, that Ethier was more likely to be a better player than Pierre. They recognized that many of the arguments being made on behalf of Pierre were flawed, if not twisted. They didn't accept that Pierre's demotion wouldn't happen, shouldn't happen, couldn't happen.

The conventional wisdom wasn't all it's cracked up to be.

For different reasons, writers both inside and outside the mainstream are targets because of where they write, as opposed to how they think. I think L'Affaire Pierre shows that targeting a type of writer misses the point. We should evaluate the arguments, not the medium they are made from.

* * *

The Opening Day batting order differs from the weekend lineup we saw against the Red Sox, I'm presuming because of the left-hander (Barry Zito) the Dodgers will be facing.

Rafael Furcal, SS
Andre Ethier, LF
Matt Kemp, RF
Jeff Kent, 2B
Andruw Jones, CF
Russell Martin, C
James Loney, 1B
Blake DeWitt, 3B*
Brad Penny, P

*DeWitt is still penciled in, as the Dodgers are holding out the possibility of a pregame acquisition. Either way, I love that lineup from one-to-seven. I wouldn't mind interspersing the righties and lefties more, but the right guys are playing. Finally.

By the way, I'll be looking for Pierre to pinch-run for DeWitt in the seventh.

* * *

The current 25-man roster (via the Press-Enterprise), with remaning questions:

Starting pitchers (5): Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Esteban Loaiza

  • Question: Will Loaiza be in the bullpen this week?

    Bullpen (6): Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Scott Proctor, Joe Beimel, Hong Chih Kuo, Ramon Troncoso

  • Question: Will Chan Ho Park be recalled the moment that Loaiza is needed in the rotation?

    Catchers (2): Russell Martin, Gary Bennett

  • Question: Will Bennett's first start come before the Dodgers play 10 games in a row, April 18-27?

    Infielders (7): James Loney, Jeff Kent, Rafael Furcal, Tony Abreu (to be replaced by Blake DeWitt or a new acquisition), Chin-Lung Hu, Mark Sweeney, Angel Chavez

  • Question: Angel Chavez? Yep, even when they weren't trying, the Dodgers might still end up with a Wilson Valdez type on the team. Chavez beat out Ramon Martinez. Pointless. I guess the theory is, if you pinch-hit for DeWitt and then want a defensive replacement for Kent, you need the extra infielder, no matter how nondescript with the bat.

    Outfielders (5): Andre Ethier, Andruw Jones, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre, Delwyn Young

  • Question: Actually, it was already answered.

    * * *

    New Coliseum photos are up at the Dodger Thoughts group at Flickr. Julian V. Gomez had one of his photos picked up on L.A. Observed. Feel free to add yours from Opening Day.

  • Comments (158)
    Show/Hide Comments 1-50
    2008-03-30 20:45:29
    1.   Disabled List
    I'm happy for Ethier and Kemp. I really do feel awful for Pierre. And I feel angry at Ned Colletti, for signing him to that foolish contract that brought us to this uncomfortable juncture.

    I really hope Torre finds a role for Pierre that JP can excel in and find satisfaction with. Barring that, I hope Ned can swing a trade that works out for all parties.

    2008-03-30 20:45:55
    2.   Lexinthedena
    For reasons that differ depending on the person, Pierre inspires a lot of emotion, and assuming he's not traded, it will be this way throughout the season.
    2008-03-30 20:47:30
    3.   Louis in SF
    Nice piece on Ethier, and a nice opening day lineup. The other compelling point on why Ethier should start over JP, which most of the conventional press has missed, is this particular line-up. Even with the addition of Jones, the Dodgers do not have a power laden line-up, and Kent who does represent power could go down at any moment and the Dodgers would have to put in one of their reserves, neither of whom has much power. Thus the decision is obvious with this current Dodger team. I am looking forward to opening day and no trade, since I am not convinced that there is much out there which makes sense for the Dodgers.
    2008-03-30 20:48:24
    4.   trainwreck
    How in the world is Angel Chavez making this team?
    2008-03-30 20:53:13
    5.   Dodgers49
    Repko Sent Down

    >> OF Jason Repko was optioned to Class AAA Las Vegas following today's game, the result of a crowded 6-man outfield. <<

    http://tinyurl.com/yqv77n

    2008-03-30 20:58:06
    6.   KG16
    For the first time in quite a while, I'm truly excited about the Dodgers. Jeff Kent, notwithstanding, 1-8 in the line up are guys I can root for; the rotation is solid, if not great; there are at least four potential gold glovers on the team; and, this group of guys can be around for a very long time.

    The only part of this season that is going to be disappointing is that of three play off caliber teams in the NL West, one (if not too because of the unbalanced schedule and interleague play) will not be in the playoffs.

    2008-03-30 20:58:08
    7.   Jon Weisman
    4 - I've added my Chavez theory to his part of the post.
    2008-03-30 20:58:39
    8.   immouch
    this isn't a player swap; it's a tectonic shift. pierre just had a very typical pierre season. yet he and his contract are going to the bench in exchange for - and i say this with love in my heart - an average ML corner outfielder.... if you close your eyes you can hear something industrial-age-ish happening in ned's head (press a glass on his forehead and put your ear next to the glass, you can hear it)... it's as if the man, as a GM, just relearned baseball.
    2008-03-30 20:59:40
    9.   Marty
    Michael Corleone (Joe Torre) to Tom Hagen (Juan Pierre): It's not personal Tom, it's just business.
    2008-03-30 21:00:50
    10.   KG16
    So, does anybody know if I'll be able to listen to the game tomorrow through KABC's website? Or am I going to have to come up with a project that will allow me access to the tv in my conference room tomorrow?
    2008-03-30 21:01:42
    11.   Daniel Zappala
    It is quite possible that Chavez made the team because he can play all four infield positions and because he was with the Yankee AAA team last year.
    2008-03-30 21:01:51
    12.   Marty
    Also, what's never mentioned, it seems to me, is Ethier hits lefty's as well or better than righties.
    2008-03-30 21:02:29
    13.   jujibee
    I'm still having a very tough time grasping how people can feel bad for someone who is making millions and millions of dollars. I see how depriving someone of their passion can be a little disheartening, but he has the option of requesting a trade if he should see it fit. Either way, he is being compensated very well, and I have a very hard time feeling sorry for someone who has just been outperformed. It's not as if was laid off and now looking for work to suport his well-being, he lost out due to performance. I see both sides, but I will never feel bad for him. Maybe I'm to stubborn???
    2008-03-30 21:03:19
    14.   Disabled List
    Angel Chavez made the team because we are down three infielders from a month ago. That's it. No other reason.
    2008-03-30 21:16:10
    15.   sweepstakes
    Bummer for Pierre but his situation has 9 million silver linings.
    2008-03-30 21:18:31
    16.   Jon Weisman
    8 - Why are you calling this a Ned decision?

    13 - Money doesn't eliminate feelings. No one's feeling sorry for his ability to make a living. People are just reacting to a man feeling disappointment. That doesn't mean people don't think the right thing has been done, or that they wouldn't feel sorrier for Ethier if he had lost out.

    You're not being stubborn - you're just making a strict interpretation of events. Your line about his option to request a trade, for example, completely misses the point, even if his requesting a trade meant that the request would be granted.

    A nice guy is sad. Regardless of whether he deserves to be sad, that affects me on some level.

    2008-03-30 21:18:43
    17.   CanuckDodger
    Sympathy for Pierre? People with this misplaced emotion, I kindly refer you to My Name Is Earl. A year after Pierre got $44 million he didn't deserve, karma's pendulum was bound to swing the other way.
    2008-03-30 21:20:42
    18.   sweepstakes
    Hey, I'm an oft while poster here at D.T. I'm a Dodger fan in San Diego and wondering if any of the posters here also live in these parts. I don't know, but it'd be cool to get a crew of like-minded fans, maybe catch some games.
    2008-03-30 21:23:50
    19.   sweepstakes
    The money aside, Juan Pierre is still with the club, still in the majors. He didn't get optioned or cut.
    2008-03-30 21:26:34
    20.   DougS
    17 But it was Ned who offered Pierre the $44 mil. Should he not have taken it, based on the principle that he wasn't a good enough ballplayer to deserve it? I understand Jon's point, that money and a man's wounded pride are not necessarily linked.

    What strikes me about this business, though, is that Pierre came into spring training knowing that he would have to fight to save his job, and yet he put up pretty lackluster numbers. Ethier, OTOH, came in knowing there was a job for him to win, and put up numbers that jump out at you.

    2008-03-30 21:26:49
    21.   bhsportsguy
    17 Why doesn't he deserve it? It was the going price and he got what he bargained for.

    This idea that players somehow don't deserve the salaries they make has always bothered me because they have no leverage in the negoitiation, the teams control it and they make the final offers and players either accept or move on (if they are free agents), go to arbitration if eligible or of course have no choice if they are early in their career.

    If teams could not afford to pay it, they would not pay it.

    So its not a case of karma and to feel sad about it is not too hard for me to understand.

    2008-03-30 21:27:51
    22.   Jon Weisman
    Maybe we're confusing sympathy with empathy.
    2008-03-30 21:29:47
    23.   Simpson
    The problem is the contract. Coming off the normal year he just had, Pierre would not have gotten a 5 year deal IMO. I do feel bad for the guy, I don't think of him as chasing the money, but it was known from the outset this wouldn't work. They need to find away to trade him for nothing at this point, eat cash, whatever, because the low likelihood that he learns to relish a bench role or the great odds that the Dodgers don't re-insert him into the starting role the minute Ethier hits a minor skid prevent me to be truly comfortable.
    2008-03-30 21:31:32
    24.   Simpson
    heh, ignore that don't there at the end...
    2008-03-30 21:31:48
    25.   CanuckDodger
    I'm really happy about Troncoso making the Dodgers. Didn't Colletti say something over the winter about him expecting prospects to dominate at Triple A before they deserve at shot at the majors? We know DeWitt's making the 25-man roster is just an emergency thing, and it isn't 100% that that is going to happen, but Troncoso legitimately won a big league job without ever playing in Triple A, and that is a win for those of us who have said that allowing certain pitching propsects to skip the torture of Vegas would be the smart thing to do.
    2008-03-30 21:33:07
    26.   JRSarno
    I think it's the true mark of a competitor that JP is not content WHATSOEVER to sit on the bench, do next to nothing, and collect $9 million dollars per annum. JP has heart and wants to compete. Despite what anyone thinks of his relative importance in the spectrum of available outfield talent for the Dodgers, at least the guy cares. Imagine what we'd be saying if he was vociferously HAPPY to sit on the bench and collect his check like some laconic non-contributor?
    2008-03-30 21:33:25
    27.   bhsportsguy
    I think Chavez is around until Abreu gets well, they probably feel safe with adding him to the 40 man roster because they will probably be able to DFA him without losing him.
    2008-03-30 21:33:41
    28.   Gen3Blue
    As much as I feel somewhat bad for Pierre, someone pointed out earlier that 45 mil makes quite a consolation prize, and as Jon points out, most of us have had our dissapointments.

    My feeling of unease entering the season has somewhat moderated, through realizing that most teams have similar questions. I feel like making some prediction and Howard Fox in the previous post (#4) said a lot of things that I have been feeling. However, I am not convinced DeWitt will play an immediate role.

    And I've got a feeling the first half may be rough. Kemp and Loney could both have big slumps in the first half. This is partly because young Dodger players are by natural selection not allowed to have slumps, so they can't by definition until they are established. If this happens and Andrew Jone's last year was a portent rather than a fluke it could get tough early on in LA. However I expect them to be rolling later in the year and receiving rave reviews.
    I am impressed with Kuroda and even Loiaza as 4 and 5's, and if the front three hold the good times should roll, even though I always seem to have vague premonitions about our pitching.
    At any rate, I'm eager to get on with it.
    If the league adjusts to Kemp and Loney, and they have to readjust a bit, there is every indication that they can do it. Kemp has learned more about baseball in a few years than almost anybody I've watched.

    2008-03-30 21:34:40
    29.   RELX
    I would be surprised if Pierre is not traded during the season. There is no way the Dodgers are going to pay him $9 million per year for the next four seasons to be a bench player, and there is no way that Pierre would accept being a bench player for the next four seasons.
    2008-03-30 21:35:32
    30.   Bob Timmermann
    22
    I remember the "Star Trek" called "The Sympath." The mysterious character on the planet saw Dr. McCoy being beaten and would say "Gosh, that must really hurt."

    http://tinyurl.com/26xb93

    2008-03-30 21:35:54
    31.   berkowit28
    13 And I'm having a very hard time understanding and you and the others who voiced the same opinion can be so oblivious. You say you can't feel sorry for someone who makes millions of dollars, and that's all there is to it. That would mean that the only reason that Pierre - and all the other ball players, and everyone else in the world, too, who does a job they care about - plays baseball is to make money. He's making lots of money, so he should shut up and be happy. So tell me - why do you watch baseball, then? Does it make you money? Do you acknowledge that some things matter more than money?

    Pierre has surely felt that he's being paid all that money because he's worth it, as a baseball player, in which he's invested his life. Now he's suddenly being told that he's not worth it, since his position as a starting player is being taken away from him. Yes, getting the money is nice compensation, and 20 years from now it might even look that way to him too. But it's like Jon says - he's bewildered because he can only see it as an absolute about himself ("I'm still worth what I was last year" vs. "I'm now worthless") rather than a relative comparison from the point of view of the team he plays for - someone else is worth much more, because he's better, and there's no room for 4 starting outfielders.

    How can you not have a bit of empathy for someone who is being forced to face the fact that his employers now see him as worth (much) less?

    2008-03-30 21:43:30
    32.   CanuckDodger
    20,21 -- "Just deserts" is about merit, and nobody thinks Pierre merited the contract Colletti gave him. Nobody. That is completely different than whether he should have taken the money. Where am I BLAMING him for taking the money somebody else was dumb enough to offer him? I wish somebody would give me a whole bunch of money I don't deserve. I'd certainly take it. I am just saying when you are the beneficiary of such extraordinary GOOD fortune, you are going to have to experience pretty extraordianry BAD fortune for me to feel sympathy. Quadraplegia? Absolutely. A loved one's death? No doubt. Being made a major league bench player after a career as a starter? Sorry, but no.
    2008-03-30 21:44:47
    33.   silverwidow
    25 Colletti was interviewed during the game and said his decision was influenced by Bill Lajoie's high opinion of Troncoso.
    2008-03-30 21:46:11
    34.   Dodgers49
    13 but he has the option of requesting a trade if he should see it fit.

    Upon further review it does not appear that Juan Pierre has that option.

    1). Even for players who have that option it can only be used during the off-season.

    2). It was eliminated during the last CBA but was "grandfathered" for players who signed before October 2006. Pierre signed his contract on November 22, 2006.

    >> A player with 5 years of service who has been traded in the middle of a multi-year contract may, during the off-season, require his new team to either trade him or let him become a free agent. <<

    ## Major League Baseball's current collective bargaining agreement with the players erases a previous agreement that gave veteran players an out, a trigger in the fine print. But players with multi-year deals signed before Oct. 2006 were grandfathered into this CBA and still have the right to escape a deal at the end of the season. ##

    On November 22, 2006, Pierre signed a controversial five-year, $45 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Pierre

    2008-03-30 21:46:32
    35.   jujibee
    A buddy of mine recently got laid off in an industry that is struggling in this current economy. The chances for him to find a job are slim. This man I feel sorry for. A nice guy losing his job to someone better while still getting paid, is still a nice guy. As I said, I see both points, but my feelings for anyone making the money JP makes while living his dream remain far from sympathetic. I'm sure there are several people who have wanted to play in the majors and have not been able to, due to whatever circumstance. Does that mean I should feel more/less/equally as sympathetic for them? JP has had a chance to live his dream and has accomplished the ultimate goal in his WS ring. Job well done JP. Feeling bad for him, to me, is like feeling bad for everyone who gets eleminated on American Idol, eventhough they had a shot, and although short-lived experience, at their dream. If everyone was as lucky....
    2008-03-30 21:48:18
    36.   silverwidow
    BTW, I was at the game and there is zero doubt in my mind that Kershaw is the #1 prospect in baseball. He stuff blew away Buchholz (who was very good) and the fact that he's 3+ years younger and left-handed push him well above.

    Only Evan Longoria is even in Kershaw's vicinity right now.

    2008-03-30 21:49:55
    37.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
    I think the main reason to have sympathy for Pierre is encased in Jon's point about blind spots.

    At the Coliseum game (loved being there!), the crowd booed Pierre and I said to the guy sitting next to me, "C'mon, Pierre can't help that he's the fourth best outfielder on the team!" I didn't mean it to be that funny, but the guy laughed.

    So it is simply about the very human situation he's in. Most of us have or will find a time in life when, through absolutely no fault, no particular mistake or false advertising on our parts, we are passed over for someone else. (Anyone ever lose out on a job opportunity, for instance?) It is hard to perceive and actually believe it's not about you. Because you want to believe you had some control, and it can be mystifying to be validated (with a big contract) one year, and a short time later to be de-validated (with a demotion).

    So, I feel bad for Pierre because:

    1- He's being mistreated by the fans (booing is really not appropriate).

    2- He cares about something, seems to try his best to achieve, and has lost out.

    His salary is irrelevant to his emotion, and he really doesn't seem like the kind of guy for whom we should be so cold hearted when he experiences disappointment.

    Think of it this way: if it were Barry Bonds' personality with JP's performance, I wouldn't care one bit that his feelings are hurt, because Bonds seems to be such a jerk. But Pierre seems to be a good guy who just came up short.

    (BTW, I am in no way saying that I think the wrong decision is being made -- I am saying we can feel bad for another human being who lost out, deservedly or not).

    2008-03-30 21:50:00
    38.   Jon Weisman
    32 - Again - and for the last time, I hope - I'll just try to say that I'm not reacting to Pierre's fortune or fate, but his feelings.
    2008-03-30 21:51:53
    39.   Dodgers49
    34 The first link in this post was inadvertently erased. It was:

    http://mopupduty.com/index.php/rolen-out-of-town/

    2008-03-30 21:54:10
    40.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
    35 I should add, however, that I'm not going to lose any sleep over Pierre's disappointment. He does have a lot in his life that will ease his pain. (I can't believe I just typed that!)
    2008-03-30 21:55:27
    41.   Disabled List
    I'm trying to equate the Pierre situation with a hypothetical personal experience. Let's say I signed a freelance contract to do a certain job, and I delivered on that job what I thought was some of my best work. The client/customer takes one look at it, says thanks very much, and immediately hires someone else do the exact same job. Of course, the contract I signed had an exclusivity clause. So I have to sit and watch this other person do the job that I was originally paid to do, while my work sits in the corner gathering dust.

    The vague "job" I'm describing above could be legal work, TV writing, consulting, anything. Yeah, I might still be getting paid, but if I take any pride at all in my work, then I'm gonna feel personally wounded to some extent.

    Add in the enormous fanfare and publicity of being a professional athlete (and the high public profile and pressure that comes along with that), and I don't think it's too much of a stretch to feel sympathy for Juan Pierre, $44 million contract notwithstanding.

    2008-03-30 21:58:39
    42.   Jon Weisman
    40 - Nor will I.
    2008-03-30 21:58:57
    43.   jujibee
    31. I watch baseball because it's a hobby of mine. I wouldn't expect you to feel sorry for me if I couldn't watch baseball because I lived out of town and didn't get the broadcasts locally. Even before Gameday and Extra innings, I followed the dodgers from whatever avenue I could. It's not really apples and apples here, but between 35 and 32, you might see my stance.
    2008-03-30 22:00:50
    44.   StolenMonkey86
    Wow, great game in DC, complete with the Zimm walk-off.

    About the most bizarre thing I witnessed, besides Odalis Perez as a decent opening day starter, was the line in the mens room - there was a wall of urinals, and a single-file line for each. Sadly, not nearly as much of a crowd near the sinks.

    Juan Pierre wasn't the only one that got booed. After the ball got by LoDuca to let the runner score, a guy in the next section yelled "Nice going steroid king!" There was substantial booing for the President as well too. And Chipper Jones.

    I sat on the aisle on the 400 level almost exactly in line with 1st base. One of the nicest things about the park was the lack of overhang - in RFK, I couldn't see left field from my upper deck seat along the third base line. The screen is also huge - you can see it from anywhere, except right under it. Taking the metro didn't take too long - actually it was quicker than leaving RFK, and the wait out of the park wasn't bad. About an hour and a quarter from the ballpark to GMU campus is pretty good.

    2008-03-30 22:04:11
    45.   underdog
    Meanwhile, the Suns haven't set their roster either, though it promises to have several members of the Dodgers' 40 man on it:

    http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/033108/sps_263420466.shtml

    (Note the conjecture - and that's all it really is - about the Dodgers possibly ending their relationship in Jax after the season, at end of article.)

    2008-03-30 22:06:05
    46.   MC Safety
    This weekend ruled.
    2008-03-30 22:06:41
    47.   jasonungar07
    I don't see how money even applies in the question of if you feel sorry for him or not.
    2008-03-30 22:06:41
    48.   jujibee
    41. Me, I sit back and have a smirkish grin on my face hoping there is a chance that I can redeem myself. When the chance should come, I live up to it and then some. Meanwhile I laugh at the company who wasted their time/money when they hired another guy to do the job that I just blew them away with. Then, when the contract is over, I switch sides and pound it into them every chance I get. Maybe I've watched the Count of Monte Cristo too much.
    2008-03-30 22:07:05
    49.   Quik
    Speaking of photos being picked up, thanks to you Jon for doing so to two of mine (those being the panorama and the youngster).

    Also a hello to all the DT posters, long-time reader, first time commenter. I look forward to getting to know you all.

    2008-03-30 22:09:32
    50.   gpellamjr
    16 Excuse my ignorance, Jon. What point is Mr. Jujibee completely missing?
    Show/Hide Comments 51-100
    2008-03-30 22:10:40
    51.   sporky
    Even after JP has been benched, the Pierre debate lives on!
    2008-03-30 22:12:30
    52.   sporky
    49 The photo of the youngster is adorable.
    2008-03-30 22:15:59
    53.   Bob Timmermann
    51
    But we only debate Juan Pierre's emotional state now. I don't know if this is progress.
    2008-03-30 22:19:41
    54.   underdog
    52 At this point, it's regression. {In 1930s Irish cop voice} Move it along people, move it along, nothing here to see. Or debate. Shall we now move on to arguing the positives and negatives of Angel Chavez?
    2008-03-30 22:20:07
    55.   jujibee
    53. The Choi debacle was similar, if you recall, when he lost playing time to the supper-utility-maniac Jason Phillips. Those talks seemed to disappear, and so to should these.
    2008-03-30 22:20:20
    56.   Bluebleeder87
    Man, I loved how Jon broke-down the Pierre situation.
    2008-03-30 22:22:30
    57.   sporky
    Some permutation of the Pierre debate will continue all season long. By the end of the year, it'll be regarding the state of his socks, and whether or not they should be pulled up to his knees.
    2008-03-30 22:24:11
    58.   68elcamino427
    Anybody else going to the game tomorow?

    The eve of opening day! I'm so ready for it!

    Juan Pierre will be fine. The kids just did what they were challenged to do.
    They knocked the door down.

    2008-03-30 22:26:04
    59.   jujibee
    57. LOL Maybe it'll be if his stache makes a comeback.

    As I sit here wondering about this conversation, something popped into my head that I thought would be relevant. Would people feel sympathetic for Loaiza if he lost his starting role and landed in the bullpen?

    2008-03-30 22:38:29
    60.   berkowit28
    59 Maybe if he looked like sad-sack Charlie Chaplin when it happened, like Pierre does. But we haven't had much time to get to know Loaiza yet...
    2008-03-30 22:38:38
    61.   Tom Meagher
    Jon (or everybody else),

    Maybe I just haven't been following closely enough, but what's the objection to Angel Chavez? Is it that the team shouldn't be wasting a roster spot on an extra infielder (this really only trades off with the last spot in the bullpen, right?), or is it that the Liza Minelli character would be better? I don't have any basis to compare their relative fielding abilities, but Chavez and Martinez are basically dead even in their offensive projection, as far as I know. Martinez on the roster would, I believe, give him a guaranteed $700k salary, whereas Chavez would just earn the league minimum for as long as he's on the roster and, if I'm not mistaken, can be optioned to the minor leagues. The burden would be on Martinez to prove he's meaningfully better to make the roster, and I don't know that that's the case nor do I really suspect it is.

    That having been said, my rationale for keeping Chavez could be wildly different than that of Flanders/Szyslak.

    2008-03-30 22:40:32
    62.   Jon Weisman
    61 - It's not that I like Martinez better. It's that I like neither.
    2008-03-30 22:41:12
    63.   Quik
    52 Thanks. I had a few more but that was definitely the best.

    I volunteered for the Fan Fest thing and wound up helping run one of the speed pitch booths, so I have plenty of pictures of mid-release photos.

    2008-03-30 22:41:53
    64.   Jon Weisman
    50 - The fact that a disappointed person can ask to be moved to a less disappointing situation has no bearing on my feelings about his disappointment. We can all ask for things to be better - so what?
    2008-03-30 22:42:05
    65.   Quik
    63 so I have plenty of mid-throwing motion photos

    fixed.

    2008-03-30 22:45:59
    66.   underdog
    61 I think that's fair, yah, and it's pretty clear Chavez wouldn't have had a shot had there not been such a string of injuries to the infield (plus Kent not yet being 100% either). With no Abreu (plus no Nomar and LaRoche, and Young not the greatest fielder in the world), they probably wanted someone else, at least temporarily, who could be a late inning defensive sub. Not sure I completely agree with it but understand the thinking. Too bad for Repko his infielding days are long over.
    2008-03-30 22:46:26
    67.   KG16
    I've been thinking, and I think I've come up with a reason why some will feel very sorry for Pierre - and, to an extent - why some argued so much for him: Juan Pierre does not look like a ball player.

    At least not a ball player circa 2008.

    It's the idea, likely on a subconscious level, that if he can make it to the show, being built like he is, then any of us can. It's similar to Mugsy Bogues in the NBA. There really isn't any reason to believe that either of those guys are among the elite in their sport (750 ML players; 360 NBA players), and yet, because of hard work there they are.

    I still don't feel sorry for him, just as I wouldn't have felt sorry for Wally Pipp or the guy that Ripken replaced, or the thousands of other guys who lost a spot to another player. It's simply the nature of the business, it's the pay off you get for making millions of dollars to play a game 162 times a year.

    2008-03-30 22:48:58
    68.   Bob Loblaw
    I felt more sorrow for Pierre being the target of a hate-tsunami on Dodger blogs during the off-season than I feel for him actually losing his right to be a starter. I feel some sorrow for him getting booed at the coliseum, but no more than I feel for the booing of Bush at the Nationals game. I think I actually feel more sorrow that Repko got cut from the roster despite performing well after recovering from last year. I feel just as much sorrow for Piazza coming to grips that his skills have diminished as he hopes to prolong his career. I feel more sorrow for Andy LaRoche who's injuries seem to always prevent him from establishing himself in MLB.

    At the end of the day Pierre can still go home knowing he's earned more than 95% of the American population, and should be financially set for life. If his career ended tomorrow he could still look back with pride that he was a MLB player, and quite successful at stealing bases. He's got a World Series ring on his finger to remind him of the good times. I don't want to sound callous, but he's lived a much better life than most of us. He should be happy for every day he gets to play ball.

    I tend to agree with Canuck about the My Name is Earl karma theory. When you're hot you're hot, and when you're not you're not. The Dodgers would be penalizing their whole fan base as well as Ethier by not benching Pierre. Baseball is a competition, and the best players should compete most of the time.

    2008-03-30 22:49:23
    69.   KG16
    34 - he can still request a trade, but he cannot demand a trade. Under the situation you outlined, a team must trade a player or release him. Here, Pierre can ask to be traded, but the Dodgers need not oblige. Much like Kobe asked to be traded, but the Lakers did not oblige.
    2008-03-30 22:55:33
    70.   dzzrtRatt
    Realizing the opinions on this site are not monolithic, generally speaking, the DT community has finally gotten what it has been asking for since at least 2005. No mediocre veterans blocking high-ceiling prospects. Billingsley in the rotation with Kershaw visibly in the wings.

    Moreover, unlike many of the Angels' prospects, the Dodger prospects are mostly playing up to, or beyond, expectations. The wisdom of a favorite exec, Logan White, is being validated.

    Would all this have happened in another era, where we (really I should say "you," since my contribution is negligible) didn't have this megaphone? Especially the sabremetricians among you. Facts are stubborn things, but they get downright ornery if they're being published day after day.

    How much of the Dodgers' success is the result of crowdsourcing? And where will it go next?

    2008-03-30 22:58:21
    71.   jujibee
    I don't get Chavez at all. Hu can play all the infield positions that Sweeney can't. Worst case scenario, Young replaces someone for a game or two until someone like Chavez/Martinez comes up. I think Repko earned his spot as a right handed bat off the bench/defensive outfield replacement/pinch runner. I will be happy to see him get more playing time in AAA, but none-the-less I don't get Chavez fro Repko, much less another arm out of the pen.
    2008-03-30 23:00:33
    72.   dzzrtRatt
    And, now that it's happened, I surely do empathize with Pierre. Since he doesn't wish ill upon his teammates, my guess is he's hoping for a trade. But he's afraid his career as a starter is over, and doesn't think that's what should be happening to him right now.

    Start dialing, Ned.

    2008-03-30 23:01:02
    73.   KG16
    70 - in some ways, this feels like what it would have been like if there was still an O'Malley in the front office. At least that's what the myth of the O'Malley's seems to promote.
    2008-03-30 23:02:06
    74.   jujibee
    70. So all we need to do is get rid of Ned, promote Logan to GM with the majority poll of DT as his close advisor. As long as Jon gets compensated accordingly. I can't say that I'd have any problems with that.
    2008-03-30 23:06:18
    75.   Bob Loblaw
    It won't be easy trading Pierre and his big contract. Isn't Kenny Lofton still available at a fraction of the price?
    2008-03-30 23:17:40
    76.   Bob Timmermann
    Sam DC's report on the new DC stadium:

    http://griddle.baseballtoaster.com/archives/933542.html

    2008-03-30 23:18:10
    77.   Neal Pollack
    I wouldn't worry much about Angel Chavez. Wilson Valdez was here and gone last year before we even had a chance to taste first place, much less collapse from the best record in the majors.

    As for Pierre, I think the hatred and bitterness toward him is actually hatred and bitterness deflected from management. Last year was one of the most distressing ever from a Dodgers fan perspective. We watched our team deteriorate because of a thousand stupid managerial and general-managerial moves. We're tired of our pompous yuppie owner and our half-wit GM. The benching of Juan Pierre may have been Torre's decision, but I like to think there was a little bit of a popular outcry, and the administration and its defenders finally figured out how to make their fans happy.

    Now if parking would just go back down to 10 bucks...

    2008-03-30 23:27:25
    78.   Bob Timmermann
    The day Brady Clark and Wilson Valdez put the Dodgers in first:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN200704290.shtml

    2008-03-30 23:32:48
    79.   silverwidow
    "He is disappointed," Manager Joe Torre said. "He will be a bench player starting out. Just because you sit out of the opening day lineup, it doesn't mean it won't change or vary from time to time.

    "I have a feeling that there certainly won't be regular playing time, but I'd like to believe that everyone will be able to contribute with enough playing time, in my mind, to keep them sharp, even if it's not as much they want."

    http://tinyurl.com/2bxz6q

    2008-03-30 23:33:02
    80.   Jon Weisman
    You know, instead of Bob's Big Boy, I first wrote Dutton's Bookstore into my analogy. But I thought Dutton's was too good - and too self-aware - to be compared to Pierre.

    http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2008/03/it_takes_a_bookstore.php

    2008-03-30 23:36:06
    81.   Bob Hendley
    43 - I would feel sorry for you, whether you expected me to or not.
    2008-03-30 23:36:07
    82.   68elcamino427
    72 Pierre's games started streak is over, something that he has worked very hard to maintain.
    It is also something that he takes alot of pride in.
    From the opening day of the 2003 season, he hasn't missed a game, until tomorrow.
    I feel for him in that respect.
    He will probably start in many more games in his career. Some with the Dodgers and very likely, some with other teams.
    The Streak had to end sometime.
    To have his streak, and his game treated by the team in the manner that it has since the end of last season is embarrassing and humiliating. Both for Juan Pierre and the man that hired him.
    Will Juan Pierre get over his hurt enough to perform as a professional for the Dodgers this year?
    I think he will.
    Will he forgive the man who hired him?
    That is a question that only Juan Pierre can answer.
    2008-03-30 23:38:49
    83.   LA Native
    77

    I think we can say Torre pleased us with his first major decision. Make no mistake, this was his decision not from pressure by DT posters or fans in general (wouldn't this have been done last year if that was the case).

    Overall, a great experience at the Coliseum (I had no problems parking and getting in and out in my usual parking area near SC, although it did make me realize how much of a pain Chavez Ravine is for this).

    Booing Pierre is inexcusable inmo. I am embarrased to be a Dodger fan when this happens or last year when Broxton was booed after a bad outing (what are we becoming -- Philly fans who leave early).

    Was it just me or did Kent and Andruw Jones both look really slow. No surprise on Kent of course, but Jones looked horribly slow for a gold glover. Lets hope the scouts are wrong about his declining ability, but I wouldn't bet much on it myself (much less $18M), although I agree it was a gamble we had to take.

    2008-03-30 23:42:03
    84.   silverwidow
    82 Brady Clark started over Pierre a couple times last year.
    2008-03-30 23:46:09
    85.   silverwidow
    Is there a Torre/Ned power struggle? If so, there's only one guy in that equation who will get fired.
    2008-03-30 23:55:38
    86.   68elcamino427
    84 Good point, I was getting carried away in the drama of the moment, change that to games played.
    Looking at his stats, over 600 ab's every year, wow.
    For me the saga of Juan Pierre continues.
    The guy has charisma. He captivates us.
    2008-03-30 23:57:53
    87.   Eric Enders
    It's not like we're benching Cal Ripken here. Pierre's official streak is what, 300-something games?
    2008-03-31 00:01:55
    88.   Eric Enders
    434. If not for the benching, poor Juan could break Ripken's record in 2021 at age 44.
    2008-03-31 00:09:19
    89.   68elcamino427
    87
    The chronicles of Juan Pierre. Assemble all that has been written here about Juan Pierre and bind it in a volume.
    That would be one thick book.
    Repetitive, redundant, but very thick and heavy.

    Hail the late inning specialist!

    Long live Andre Ethier!

    2008-03-31 00:16:39
    90.   Michael D
    I do find it funny that we've basically campaigned to get Pierre out of the starting lineup basically starting November 23rd 2006 and now that it's mission accomplished many are having a bit of a pity party for him.

    It doesn't make any sense to me that you would wish for the guy to lose his starting job for months if not an entire year+ but then feel sorry for the guy once your wish has been granted.

    2008-03-31 00:18:39
    91.   Jon Weisman
    90 - I'm already over this debate ... I've explained too many times why those two aspects are reconcilable. You don't have to agree, but at least take note of the explanation.
    2008-03-31 00:19:15
    92.   Bob Hendley
    90 - It was nothing personal and one needs to be generous in victory.
    2008-03-31 00:19:38
    93.   Bob Loblaw
    90. Well said!
    2008-03-31 00:23:35
    94.   Greg Brock
    I neither sympathize nor empathize with Juan Pierre. You got beat out for a spot by better players. Welcome to everybody else's life.

    Be good next time.

    2008-03-31 00:29:31
    95.   Jon Weisman
    I didn't mean 91 to be cross, though reading it now, it might come across that way.
    2008-03-31 00:41:02
    96.   Reddog
    I believe some Yankees fans posted here after we signed Torre and said that Torre likes to go with a set lineup. He does not platoon.

    So I imagine he told Ethier something to that effect - that he won the job and he is the regular left fielder.

    It seems clear that he also let Pierre know he is now a bench player.

    It's like all of a sudden there's nothing to feel bad about - all the young players are playing, the future is bright, and I can just relax and enjoy the season and root for the team. It feels great! Yay!

    Thank you Joe Torre.

    2008-03-31 00:52:24
    97.   fanerman
    I'm on the side that empathizes with Juan. It still sucks for him. Even if he's a millionaire. Even if it was perfectly fair. Even if it was the right thing to do. It just doesn't seem right to do a Nelson-Muntz-like "ha ha" about it.

    I have this prevailing belief that a lot of times it's just as easy to not be negative as it is to be negative, so why not be not negative? If that makes any sense. I'm saying not negative because even being "neutral" (ie, not positive) might be good enough.

    2008-03-31 00:57:02
    98.   Greg Brock
    97 I just want the best players to play. No "Ha ha" over here.

    The man got an absurd contract and failed to perform at a level commensurate with that contract. He'll likely be traded, and can do his thing elsewhere.

    Seeing how he's such a good team guy and hard worker, I have no doubt that he'll take this well and do what is necessary to help the team while he's around. Because that's the type of person he is. I've heard. Over and over. A thousand times.

    2008-03-31 01:47:21
    99.   bablue
    No offense to anyone else, but I vehemently disagree. This guy is making 9 million dollars a year to sit on a bench and live his dream, and I should feel sorry for him? No, sorry, no chance. I would give almost anything to have Pierre's career, even starting from now. He is one of the luckiest people alive. There are millions of people that would kill to live 1/10 of the majestic life he does. Maybe if he had a serious illness, but because he doesn't get 4 at bats everyday in the big leagues?

    I can't give him one ounce of sympathy. in fact, it almost makes me angry. For the next four years hes gonna be paid 36 million dollars without even hardly helping an MLB team. While its not his fault Ned offered him the contract (and I'm more mad at Ned), a fan paying to see the game has every right to boo. Keep in mind his contract could possibly cost our team a world series.

    I'm sorry, but I refuse to feel sympathy for someone in Pierre's situation. There's people really suffering in this world, and I don't feel sympathy for someone who will live the rest of his life like a king. If anything, he should feel sympathy for us. Every person here will go through ten times more than Juan Pierre ever will!

    2008-03-31 02:08:59
    100.   Andrew Shimmin
    Life is mostly grief and labour,
    Two things get you through:
    Chortling when it hits your neighbour,
    Whinging when it's you.
    Show/Hide Comments 101-150
    2008-03-31 02:17:16
    101.   Tom Meagher
    62 - Fair enough, but I don't think it's unreasonable to want to use that extra spot on a utility player who is a lousy hitter with a very good glove. If Chavez is a very good fielder, he's enough above replacement level to be useful to a major league team. That said, I have no faith whatsoever that the Dodgers properly value his defense and I have no particular reason to assume he's good in the field.

    I feel bad for Pierre. Realistically speaking, he shouldn't be starting for this team, and most of the DT readership can give a decent explanation as to why that is. But did Torre? COULD Torre? I have my doubts. You can argue that players should have a better understanding of their value, and in general players even have incentive to do so for contract negotiations and so forth. But most players do not, and the burden shouldn't be on lesser players to understand the value of their contributions. When Colletti signed Pierre, I argued that he was a fine player to have if he's used properly (i.e., be platooned and not hit high in the order), although his salary wasn't really in line with that role. Even if Colletti's initial plan for Pierre was to play him every day and let him keep the streak alive, he was flatly irresponsible if he didn't discuss with Pierre that his role might need to change as the contract wears on. I talk about baseball from the perspective of what teams can do to maximize their wins most of the time, but I don't agree that that's a GM's only job, and if a GM isn't being honest and considerate with players in contract negotiations, I don't think the GM is doing a good job.

    Stop me if others have been saying this, but I kind of wonder if Colletti thought that getting Torre was basically carte blanche to create personnel problems that the master of clubhouse chemistry could smooth out.

    Pierre just has Shea Hillenbrand disease (doesn't realize he's not good enough now nor ever really was to be more than a good platoon player and injury fill-in, but has always been treated as if he were better than that because almost everyone overvalues batting average). Hillenbrand's case was terminal - he thought he was underpaid and underplayed to the extent that it was okay for him to be a jerk, and he's not good enough for anyone to want to deal with him even though he'd still be a serviceable 1B RH caddy, statistically speaking. Pierre will make more than $50 million from his playing career regardless of what he does, so you would hope he can get over what he's feeling now and just do his best so that he can continue his career beyond his current contract. (And like I've argued in the past, it could be that he'll be a better player with regular rest.)

    Hate the player's skills, not the player.

    2008-03-31 03:53:11
    102.   Tom Meagher
    99 - Not to single you out, since a lot of people are making the same argument, but I think it's philosophically untenable to argue that you can't sympathize with someone who has had the fortune to become obscenely wealthy. If Pierre had spent his career on a greedy quest for capital, that would be one thing. But Pierre probably loves baseball as much as most DT readers, and there's a pretty solid chance that it has been quite significant in terms of how he has developed his identity and so forth. I don't see how YOUR desire to make millions playing baseball suffices to invalidate the feelings of someone who has done that. I won't attempt to speak for Pierre's feelings, and it could be that were it not for baseball he would be working on Wall Street or selling snake oils. But there are almost certainly other emotions at play, and I think the case needs to be established that a) Pierre is a ballplayer for the money and b) he chose LA for the money (and not because he thought they really wanted him for their team, or what have you).

    When I was a kid, I loved baseball and couldn't wait for the little league season to begin. When I was 8, I started being a much better hitter than most of the other players my age and was proficient enough throwing and catching the ball to be a top fielder for my age - I was the slowest runner on the team, but on a little league field that didn't matter so much. However, I had a major problem. The teams were picked by the managers at the try-outs. The try-outs happened before any practices and consisted of only two things: hitting six or seven pitches from a pitching machine and running about forty feet. No one ever took me to the batting cages. I had no experience hitting a pitching machine, and they didn't let you stand on the side with a bat trying to time before it was your turn (all the kids had to just wait in line). After seeing me run, no one was going to pick me unless they were sure I would crush the ball (just like major league teams generally don't draft amateur 1B because if they don't turn out to be elite hitters they are worthless), and of course hitting off a pitching machine was a skill I had no mastery of whatsoever. So for four years I went to the try-outs and didn't get picked, and each year I got assigned to the lower league and did really well while more and more of my friends got to the advanced league. I would be about the best player on every team I was on from age ten or so, but none of my past managers were picking teams for the advanced league, so I didn't have anybody to point out I was much better during the season than at try-outs. (I also wanted to be a football player, and figured at least in football my size would be valued. By the time my parents kind of agreed to invest the money in letting me play Jr. Football, I was a few months shy of eleven and would have to lose fifteen pounds to make the weight limit for the 13-14 year old division. Years later I found out that Howie Long - my idol when I was ten - missed out on youth football for the same reason, but at the time it more served to make me gradually and bitterly get over my desire to play football.) So as a 12-year-old, I was stuck hitting .800 for a team of nine and ten year olds. There was another 12-year-old on my team. He was not a good baseball player, and did not have much experience. He was pretty awkward athletically. But he had some connection, and one of the upper division managers came to our game to scout him after one of his players had quit. Everybody on our team knew he was there and knew why. During that game, the other twelve-year-old played left field, struck out his first time up and in his second and final at bat got a single on a grounder past the third baseman that stopped rolling after a foot of outfield grass. I hit a double to deep center my first time up, hit an opposite field line drive triple off the wall my second PA, and got a thinly veiled IBB on my third trip to the plate. I also played first base without dropping a single throw. A 12-year-old I'd played in the playground with for years who had been in the upper division for four years was the second base ump. He told me I would surely be on the Royals by the end of the day, since the manager was scouting the game. At twice the age, it's not hard to understand why the manager picked the other twelve-year-old, even though I don't know if it was a family connection or whatever. He was a twelve year old who really wanted to play baseball, and someone came to the game to watch him play, and it would have been kind of cruel not to promote him. When I was twelve, though, this incident was crushing, and made me resolve to quit baseball at the end of the season. Not the best decision, but given how I felt at the time I don't think I'm in a position to second guess it. I've felt almost physical pain at various times in the twelve years since from the desire to play baseball, but I still have never gotten over it enough to want to try to play organized baseball again. But damn, playing a game of wiffleball (actuall wifflebat with a stress-relief ball that was almost impossible to hit out of the 40-ft infield) on Easter in the park with a bunch of drunk grad students last week felt really good.

    But then again, I got straight A's in school, which my mom had led me to believe was pretty much all that mattered. I'm sure there were all sorts of people who, in light of how I did in school, really wouldn't think it would matter too much to me how I did at baseball. But that really could not be further from how I felt, and when I thought I couldn't take the pain of trying to play organized baseball anymore I lost a lot of the things that mattered to me then. I don't necessarily regret that that's how things worked out for me, although I do find it somewhat ironic that youth sports are so often seen as a remedy for "childhood obesity" - it was mainly my obesity that kept me from participating in sports at a high enough level that it could actually help me get into better shape, and at that age working myself into shape through other means was not something I knew how do to nor something I was socialized to do in my family. But I'd like to think that no one would dismiss how I felt because I was fortunate enough to be good at school. Similarly, I'd like to feel sympathy for Pierre even if he has the adult equivalent of straight A's going for him. The straight A's didn't mean that much to me, and the money wouldn't mean as much to me as it evidently would mean to anyone who is saying that Pierre cannot be worthy of sympathy. I don't think Pierre is "suffering," but as much as I am whole-heartedly against the entire logic of capital accumulation, it is flat out misanthropic to argue that human emotions are irrelevant when the salve of money is at hand.

    I wish I had placed a lot more value on all sorts of things when I was younger, and less value each on grades and sports. I don't much doubt that when Pierre is older he'll no longer resent getting benched in March 2008, but were I in his place I don't see how I couldn't, unless Torre and Colletti are waaay better at their jobs than I think they are. I don't much doubt that part of that will be that eventually he'll understand better why the decision was made. But even as someone who has never had much disposable income, I'm not going to look at someone who has an unfathomable degree of financial security and isn't all that much older than me as someone unworthy of sympathy, and I certainly wouldn't look at such a person as unworthy of empathy.

    Unlike a lot of the sabermetric faithful, I actually despise economics and similar fields, which I consider to be fundamentally flawed in their representations of human reality and potential. But I've been addicted to baseball no matter how many times I've gone on the wagon, and while the numbers can't even come close to explaining everything, my personal history was more than enough for me to make the leap of faith to be stridently focused on how players perform on the field as opposed to how they look or how they're remembered. Most baseball players spend their careers being told how good they are by traditional standards, so I don't see any reason to expect them to send an email to MGL asking what their slwts projection is. Juan Pierre thinks he's really good, and I thought I was really good, and in each case the decision wasn't so much about how good we were as we had assumed it would be. I don't think it'll turn him into the flawed stathead that I am, but I feel for him and hope it ends up having some positive effect on his life.

    2008-03-31 04:55:25
    103.   Ken Noe
    It's a fascinating turn. People who never wanted JP starting are blaming Ned for signing him. People who think JP has been mistreated, here and elsewhere, are blaming Ned for signing him. Ned, as far as I can see, is really grumpy with Torre. Throw in DeWitt (Ned would clearly have Grady playing Chavez) I think the real story here is that Torre has assumed control of the team. I wonder how long Ned survives that.
    2008-03-31 05:49:32
    104.   Daniel Zappala
    102 Bravo, Tom. Wonderful comment. It's the humanity inside us that lets us sympathize with someone else's struggles, regardless of wealth or social status. I wish I could be able to see more clearly, more often.
    2008-03-31 07:15:17
    105.   Bob Loblaw
    Why does Pierre deserve more sympathy than Repko, LaRoche, or Piazza? They aren't even able to sit on the bench yet. Nobody's crying for them. I think too much has been made of Pierre's reaction to being benched compared to others with similar fates just because the media described how he hung his head in disappointment. Many other ballplayers are suffering the same disappointment without a press release.
    2008-03-31 07:17:17
    106.   CanuckDodger
    103 -- What makes you think Colletti is "grumpy with Torre?" I haven't heard anything about them not getting along, and Ned has said before, during Little's time, that he leaves decisions about who to play to the field manager.
    2008-03-31 07:22:16
    107.   Sushirabbit
    102, I've always felt that baseball, and any sport really, is a difficult task-- even for those that appear to handle it easily. Just for me, and for at least some of my friends, performing that task at a time when needed to help a team, is, frankly not suitable for comparison. When you lose that feeling, it's going to hurt. Some people clearly have never had that feeling. It's a bit like someone recently said it's stupid for Kerry or McCain to say other people can't speak of war. My take on that is not that either of them, or others, mean the political machinations or even the actions on the field are above critique, but that one simply can't understand combat and it's afterlife until you've been there. That's my take and my feeling about guys who, most of them, have spent their entire life since 4-6 trying to get to the elite level of a professional athlete.

    And Jon, as far as I'm concerned you can be cross anytime you feel like.

    2008-03-31 07:25:16
    108.   Jon Weisman
    105 - No one said he does. In fact, I went out of my way in my post to indicate that Pierre wasn't special.

    The non-sympathy side doesn't seem to be reading what the sympathy side is writing.

    2008-03-31 07:25:46
    109.   Jon Weisman
    Man, the Times lost a lot of people.

    http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2008/03/los_angeles_times_buyout.php

    2008-03-31 07:41:03
    110.   CodyS
    When JP was a free agent,he simply went for the big $. He did NOT consider the questions
    Do I fit into this team?
    Will I contribute here?
    Will my contributions be valued here?
    Will I help this team accomplish its goals?

    He just went for the money. Suppose you went looking for a job, took the highest $ offer even if you felt, despite confidence in yourself and your value in certain capacities, you might not be a long-term fit for the organization. Then a year later, with you continuing to do what you did at your last job (where they appreciated you at first, but then got tired of you after a year) and at the job before that (where they appreciated you at first, but then got tired of you) and the job before that (where they appreciated you at first, but then got tired of you), suddenly your boss tells you they don't see your value that much anymore. You could choose to blame the boss for giving you the job, or perhaps for being only initially dazzled by your bullsh*. But ultimately, you kind of have to look at yourself and ask why you're not seen as providing value by anybody that really gets to watch you in action.

    2008-03-31 07:43:36
    111.   Disabled List
    105 , 108 I'd argue that Pierre has a had a bigger, more rapid fall from grace than any of those guys (Repko, LaRoche, Piazza). Maybe that's why there's a little more of a sympathetic outpouring for him.

    I'm not really sure why Piazza is in this discussion. He's just a guy who's at the end of a (magnificent) career. There's no real reason to feel sorry for him. Repko and LaRoche have had some horrible twists of fate, and I do feel sympathy for them.

    2008-03-31 07:50:35
    112.   Bumsrap
    Going back to Jon's original post, I think if Pierre plays, he will run or hit for Kent or Jones and not Dewitt.

    Pierre has his basic needs met and is mostly working on self-actualization. From that perspective, he is ahead of the Repkos who are still wanting to provide for the current and future basic needs.

    Pierre wants to play as much as anybody player has ever wanted to play. Other players might see baseball as part of the cosmos and Pierre seems to see baseball as the cosmos.

    Pierre going to the bench might be in his highest good. If we see life as a bunch of experiences and reactions to those experiences, then Pierre is merely experiencing life and learning and growing from it. No need to feel sorry for someone who is in the process of evolving.

    2008-03-31 07:53:50
    113.   CanuckDodger
    I like the latest Dodger Blues piece, from yesterday, summing up the Pierre and 3B situations. I recommend people take a look. I certainly agree with the guy about 3B: no trades, just let DeWitt handle it till SOMEBODY gets healthy. It isn't like any veteran warm body Colletti could bring in would be any good anyway.
    2008-03-31 07:55:10
    114.   Sushirabbit
    107, or maybe people like me invest too much in it. :-)

    112, I can see Pierre really being great as a pinch hitter/runner. Especially for pitchers.

    2008-03-31 08:06:14
    115.   cargill06
    can def relate with JP, was a startng QB all my life, started a coulple games varsity my soph year, than my jr year nate longshore decided to come to our school and play football, we split time the first few games, i played welll but he was just better it was heartbreaking. hope JP keeps his head up.
    2008-03-31 08:06:52
    116.   cargill06
    never started another game in my life.
    2008-03-31 08:17:47
    117.   Ken Noe
    106 I based it on Gurnick: General manager Ned Colletti downplayed the significance of Torre's decision. "Is he a bench player or is he not starting tomorrow?" Colletti asked. "It's a long season. You've got to compete, you've got to play. I understand the build-up to Opening Day. But you look at a lot of Opening Day rosters and there are players you can't even recognize. It changes day by day."
    2008-03-31 08:18:33
    118.   JoeyP
    I think this lineup is probably the best one that the Dodgers can put out there given the roster---so props to Torre.

    I'd probably have flipped Martin and Ethier, but other than it looks good.

    2008-03-31 08:27:54
    119.   underdog
    Hey guys, ball game today - and it counts!

    I agree with 118 , the line-up looks good overall and I have little to complain about. Hopefully the guys can do it on the field and get us off to a good start.

    2008-03-31 08:38:26
    120.   Marty
    Wow, I had almost the exact same Little League experience as Tom Meagher. Probably 20 years earlier though.
    2008-03-31 08:41:47
    121.   Jon Weisman
    102 - I really valued reading that, Tom.
    2008-03-31 08:45:49
    122.   Branch Rickey
    Happy Opening Day all!
    I'm struck by the fact that Ned Colletti had created a unique insight into his shortcomings as a GM. When a GM acquires a player who needs to be replaced for lack of performance, it can always be chalked up to "it didn't work out as I hoped". Even the Martinez/DeShields trade can be put it that category. But when a player is signed to a huge contract, performs exactly as he always has and then needs to be replaced, isn't that just bumbling inadequacy? Can you think of other examples? I would applaud him for admitting his mistake but I don't think he has. I think Torre is correcting it for him. If I were Colletti, I wouldn't look McCourt in the eye when I passed by him.
    2008-03-31 08:51:26
    123.   apsio
    102 - Tom, really thoughtful commentary there...appreciate you taking the time to write it and hope you continue to write here and on other forums.

    One note, as an economist, I completely agree that many/most of my brethren seem to be detached from reality. However, the good economists, the ones who argue the nuances of grey instead of the absolutes of black and white--they are whom I believe to be the modern day equivalent of the philosophers of old.

    In its purest form, economics is just a way to look how most choices humans deal with in real life are made, in an (overly) objective way. The farther you get from reality, the easier the math becomes. Just like physicists assuming no friction, economist assuming perfect in(elasticity), mathematicians rounding pi...the list goes on.

    I completely agree that turning a human into an input for an equation is rarely accurate, nor is it a good judge of their potential or take into account the nuances of the human condition. But economics does allow better decision-making under uncertainty, a state which most people find themselves in, at some level, most of their lives. I'd hate to make most of the decisions in my life without using economics.

    As an academic field, I think one of my grad school professors said it best: "academics are their to be the bad guys." They posit the tough cases, the 'would-you-kill-Hitler-as-a-baby,' are pre-emptive strikes EVER okay, is breaking the law ever the RIGHT thing to do...Levitt asking (and trying to answer) if legalizing abortion cut crime...so economists in the academic field being cold and calloused in regards to the human condition is understandable--it is their job. However, when people try to use their arguments in the real world, when political pundits latch onto some abstract idea and apply it to things like (illegal) immigration, humanitarian aid, etc. that the purpose of the academic exercises becomes grossly misunderstood...just like someone listening to music with an overly dark/violent/whatever message and thinking it means they should go out do it.

    That said, JP is where he belongs based on a choice he made. This was done in concert with NedCo being loose with his purse strings, and one in which all parties were operating under a thick layer of uncertainty...and which I think most of us agree a good dose of econometrics would have gone a long way in the 'ounce of prevention/pound of cure' line of thinking.

    2008-03-31 08:52:42
    124.   regfairfield
    110 I think he did consider the team. The Dodgers had two solid outfielders, Ethier and Kemp, and nothing else in the organization. As long as the Dodgers didn't go out and sign another guy, he would be firmly entrenched in center for the next five years.
    2008-03-31 08:56:11
    125.   Disabled List
    The Pierre contract really is the defining element of Colletti's tenure as GM. It's his scarlet letter. He had better send really nice Christmas cards to Logan White, because if it wasn't for White's amazing drafts, Ned would be out of a job already.

    Alright, I'm with underdog. No more Pierre melodrama for now. GAME ON! The question remains, with a 4:10 EDT start time, will I be able to cut out of work a little early to watch the game?

    2008-03-31 08:57:12
    126.   Jon Weisman
    122 - If money wasn't an issue, then Colletti could argue he filled a need for 2007 and wasn't worried about having excess in 2008, or even wanted excess.

    It's not my argument, but one can make it. In fact, I think Colletti is basically making it.

    2008-03-31 09:01:03
    127.   Branch Rickey
    This whole subject comes up a few times per year. How can people be so blind as to how other humans work to think that all ballpayers care about is money? If you get fired from your career job, is your ONLY thought "man I'll miss that paycheck". For most ballplayers, their entire identity is -ballplayer-. From the time they are teenagers, it's why they are told they are special human beings. When they lose that or any part of it, it is devastating. As Jon said, at least be able to empathize with that if not sympathize.
    2008-03-31 09:03:33
    128.   JoeyP
    If Colletti, as an executive of the Dodgers, is not consideing the budget ramifacations of each move he makes---then he's really doing Frank McCourt a disservice and should be let go from his job.

    Now on the other hand, if Frank gave Ned a blank checkbook and said spend as much as you want (which I also think is unlikely), then it's Ned's fault again because he spent money on the wrong player.

    2008-03-31 09:07:31
    129.   Branch Rickey
    126 and 2009 and 2010 and 2011... I understand you're not making the argument and it's a good thing because I'd be worried about you! He could make the argument that Brett Tomko could have been Don Drysdale had he been used correctly but I don't think anyone would begin to buy it or that it shields him from the charge of being a bumbling GM.
    2008-03-31 09:07:53
    130.   underdog
    email from: underdog

    Dear Boss,
    I'm not feeling all that well today, due to allergies and lack of sleep, and will be working at home today. {Cough cough} You can reach me here at home anytime via IM or phone. However, I may be taking a nap sometime between 1 and 4 today. I'll catch up on things tonight. Thanks.

    Cough,
    underdog

    2008-03-31 09:09:52
    131.   Branch Rickey
    129... Actually, that's a bad example in that it falls into the other category I described. But I just don't think anyone can believe that Ned didn't sign Pierre with the idea of him being a starter for many years if he played in the future as he had in the past.
    2008-03-31 09:15:22
    132.   Indiana Jon
    102 Great story Tom.

    My entire childhood, I played baseball and lived for the baseball season to start. I still do in some ways. As a young kid I was a pretty good hitter and got plenty of playing time. About the age of 14, a combination of poor eyesight and poor athletic ability caused my playing time to take a severe drop. For a couple years, I rode the bench, unhappy, not enjoying that fact I was sitting when I thought I should have been playing. In my final year of eligibility, I chose not to play at all. In retrospect it was one of the worst decisions I ever made. I missed it the whole summer, and still regret the fact that I didn't play that last year, regardless of the time I would have spent on the field. I can never get that year back. For this reason, I have no sympathy for Juan Pierre. It's not about the money, its the fact that he gets to spend his life playing a great game, hanging out at the ballpark everyday, and living what most of us may call a dream.

    2008-03-31 09:23:43
    133.   Daniel Zappala
    130 There are good sides and bad sides to being a professor. The bad side: I spent nearly every waking moment the past two weeks writing 40+ pages of text, spread out over two papers and a grant proposal. I even spent most of my birthday writing. The good side: I am giving myself one highly deserved day off to watch opening day for the Dodgers and Angels this afternoon/evening.
    2008-03-31 09:26:21
    134.   Daniel Zappala
    109 Robyn Norwood! I always liked her.
    2008-03-31 09:26:56
    135.   LogikReader
    Interesting piece on "Yankees Tonight," ahem, I mean, Baseball Tonight about Yankee Stadium, preceded by a Yankees preview before the upcoming Yankees game on ESPN.

    ---

    Is anyone else with Cox Cable Service having trouble tuning in to the MLB Extra Innings Channels? I have confirmed with Cox technical support that their system is having issues, which in turn, prevent subscribers from watching any of the MLBEI channels.

    2008-03-31 09:27:08
    136.   kinbote
    Teams will have to be very careful pitching to our guys late in close games, knowing a certain pinch-runner is stretching in the dugout ;) I love it!

    Juan Pierre: the most dangerous pinch-runner in baseball. Someone put together a glossy handout on the new age of specialization. If middle relievers can make millions, so can pinch-runners. Maybe Boston will want him at the end of the year, ala Dave Roberts.

    Exit JP; Enter baseball.

    2008-03-31 09:28:51
    137.   CodyS
    I hope Colletti signed Pierre with the hope that he would regain past form, not that he would repeat the performance of 2005 and 2006. The Marlins didn't want the 2005 Pierre. The Cubs didn't want the 2006 Pierre. And the Dodgers don't want the 2007 Pierre. The 2003, 2004 Juan Pierre, every team wants that.

    If you look back at when Pierre was signed, nobody really thought he would play for the Dodgers for five years.

    Ballplayers have to decide at a certain level if they prefer love or money. Pierre thought he preferred money. Turns out he prefers love. Too late now. Fans don't hate him in a vaccuum. They hate him because of his contract, and the effect that has on the ability to field a championship team. Fans don't mind $12 beers so much if they see the money being used to win.

    2008-03-31 09:34:45
    138.   ToyCannon
    102
    Great read Tom.
    2008-03-31 09:37:54
    139.   Todd
    Hey folks, intermittent reader here....but I know what curious (intellectually, not...you know.....weird) baseball fans we have here; just thought you guys might be interested in a relatively lengthy article about PDP in yesterday's SD Union-Tribune. To be honest, I didn't know PDP had gone to work down there. We (or I anyway...) miss ya Paul. http://tinyurl.com/35dxuc
    2008-03-31 09:41:20
    140.   madmac
    All hail Caesar! Today is a holiday for the courts, so I finally get to watch an opening day Dodger game.
    2008-03-31 09:41:48
    141.   Jon Weisman
    139 - DePodesta was on Homicide? Wow, now that is cool.
    2008-03-31 09:43:59
    142.   Duranimal
    Pierre does seem to be a nice guy, but does he really deserve our sympathy? He was paid $50 million more than he was ever worth. He deserves to be envied, not pitied.
    2008-03-31 09:46:13
    143.   Jacob L
    Angel Chavez is on the roster because Ned can't do everything right. Its a message to keep us in line.

    Today is the first Opening Day that I'll miss in about 8 or 9 years. Unless of course one of you has a loose ticket you need to unload at the last minute.

    2008-03-31 09:46:35
    144.   cargill06
    142 you can't help but feel bad for the guy. yes he is overpayed, but he does show up to the park every day and works his tail off. he really cares about the game, and is probably his first love, it is probably really similar to losing someone you love. and second he is being booed by the home crowd, that's just cruel and wrong what has he ever done to deserve that?
    2008-03-31 09:47:30
    145.   The Trolley Dodger
    empathy, noun - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

    sympathy, noun - feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune.

    2008-03-31 09:51:08
    146.   Bob Timmermann
    140
    I've even bought fruit to celebrate. But they're bananas, so they were likely by a non-unionized, low paid worker in a Third World country.
    2008-03-31 09:51:13
    147.   Disabled List
    The 22-year-old even appeared in a few episodes of the TV show "Homicide, Life on the Street," after the mug-shot photographs he had sent caught the eye of Executive Producer Barry Levinson, who called him.

    "I had no speaking lines," DePodesta said. "I was the rookie cop. There were some pretty exciting scenes."

    That is the coolest thing EVER. I can't believe I didn't know that until just now.

    2008-03-31 09:52:05
    148.   CodyS
    Juan Pierre has been paid $21Million so far, with a guarantee of $35M more or so.

    His career has provided something like a net 10 losses for his teams, compared to an average player.

    Fans don't really mind big contracts that provide wins for the team (not so much, anyway). But they take passionate offense to players that underperform their contract, even if it is expected because the contract was stupid to begin with. That will make us not just mad at the original decision to give out the contract, but madder and madder every day as the player's cumulative underperformance vs. the contract just grows and grows.

    2008-03-31 09:52:25
    149.   Xeifrank
    When I played Little League, they didn't let 12 year olds play against/with 9 and 10 year olds. Every once in a while there was a very good 10 year old that got to play with the 11 and 12 year olds. I think it would be degrading to have a 12 year old playing in a league of all 9 and 10 year olds. I can see football breaking things up by weight as well as age, but in all my years of playing baseball (5 - 18 yrs of age) kids were not dropped down to lower age levels at all. On a sidenote, my neighbors oldest kid is 13 years old and is already 6 feet 2 and can touch the rim. vr, Xei
    2008-03-31 09:53:15
    150.   Sagehen
    We've all been there, Pierre. Andre Ethier has been there, Pierre. Was anybody worried about Ethier's feelings last year, when he was stuck behind Gonzo and Pierre after carrying the team through much of August 2006 before fading in September? No,as Jon pointed out a month ago, this isn't about Pierre -- this is about Ethier being better for the job, and I am so glad that for once we don't have to feel empathy towards him.

    I love Greg Brock's comment up in 94 to Pierre: You got beat out for a spot by better players. Welcome to everybody else's life.

    Show/Hide Comments 151-200
    2008-03-31 10:00:57
    151.   Jonny6
    My take on the current Pierre situation is much more utilitarian than emotional. I can certainly understand Pierre being disappointed; after all, it's got to be a pretty big blow to the ego to try and accept your demotion from being a starting major leaguer. I can also understand why some may empathize with Pierre's situation, although I must admit my empathy quotient is fairly limited and I can't spare much for Pierre. The bigger question for me - is what happens from here on out? I don't really see a potential trade on the horizon, which means Pierre is going to have to come to terms with his bench role for the entire season.

    Once the initial shock of losing his starting job and having his consecutive game streak end subsides, will Pierre put his disappointment aside and become a supportive teammate and positive contributor? After all, we've heard endless platitudes about what a great teammate Pierre is and how that increases his value to the team, now he will get a chance to display that under more challenging personal circumstances. When all is going right in your world, it's easy to be positive but how about when you're faced with some adversity.

    I think Pierre COULD be a pretty big asset for the Dodgers as a bench player. And I don't think the trade market for Pierre will merit dealing him during the course of this season. So now Pierre gets a chance to show just what he can do when faced with a difficult situation. Let's hope he reacts well.

    Above and beyond the Pierre situation, I'm excited for the season opener and looking forward to a very promising season.

    2008-03-31 10:02:56
    152.   Jon Weisman
    150 - I was worried about Ethier's feelings. I worry about a lot of people's feelings.

    Opening Day game thread is open!

    2008-03-31 10:03:46
    153.   CodyS
    There are literally hundreds of ballplayers with reason to be sad today. There's only 8*30=240 starting position player spots available in the bigs. There are dozens and dozens of guys that were regulars at one point that are now either going to AAA or accepting bench roles. Juan Pierre is probably not even the best of them. Jay Gibbons just got released. Not going to play at all.
    Everyone at some point realizes they're not the best. And everyone at some point realizes they're not even good enough, for something or other. That's life. It's sad, but whatever. Man up.

    The only guy I am really sad for is Rocco Baldelli.

    2008-03-31 10:05:59
    154.   Ken Noe
    Actually, I think NedCo was pretty open last winter about why he signed JP. Drew left to his surprise, he didn't have faith in the kids we had to develop immediately, and JP was the biggest name still on the market. But since JP was bound for the Giants, he had to sweeten the deal with an extra year and more money. It was a rookie mistake and really one he hasn't made again, to that degree. McCourt did hire a Sabean apprentice after all.
    2008-03-31 10:06:01
    155.   Just Blue
    130. I'm not feeling too good either {cough cough}.
    2008-03-31 10:16:47
    156.   LogikReader
    I wonder if Bob knows the answer to this:

    When was the last time a pitcher threw a no-hitter on Opening Day?

    I want to guess Hideo Nomo in 2001 with the Orioles

    2008-03-31 11:02:41
    157.   Jim Hitchcock
    Leading off, for the Dodgers, 2nd baseman, Steve Sax...
    2008-03-31 11:30:43
    158.   MC Safety
    149 James McDonald played with older kids. a 10/11 year old playing with the 12 year olds.

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