It’s really surprising that the Phillies are taking more criticism for signing a player who may or may not make the roster to a non-guaranteed minimum contract than the Red Sox did for trading their starting and backup shortstops. Well, given the teams and the source of the criticism, I guess it’s not surprising, but it should be.
I’m no Phils fan, but I have to say I think you’re way off base here Paul. The PH/PR combo takes up 2 roster spots, but it’s also incredibly useful in high leverage situations. How many PH AB’s will the Phils have this year in a 1 run game in the 9th? A fair few I’d bet, and a high-OBP PH plus a speedy PR gives you a great chance to manufacture a run.
Pierre isn’t the most obvious choice to fill the PR part of that combo due to his base-stealing inefficiency. But as you note, he’s quite fast, and the Phils may want to take a closer look at him to see if their coaches can turn him into a better thief. Add on the fact that he plays good D across the outfield, and that all he costs them is a minor league deal, and it’s hard not to like this move. It’s not like the FA market is overflowing with cheap base-stealing demons.
The only issue you bring up here that may be legitimate is Dom Brown. I agree that based on his prospect status and what he’s shown in his brief time in the majors he deserves a chance at MLB playing time. But (1) giving Dom the 4th OF / PR role might be worse for his development than giving him everyday AB’s in AAA, and (2) neither you nor I know whether he has legitimate defensive issues to work on. If he does, maybe a few months in the minors would be a good thing. If he satisfies the Phils brass that he can handle OF defense and hits well in AAA, I’d be shocked if Pierre gets in the way of giving Dom MLB playing time.
First of all, like it or not, the plan is for Domonic Brown to spend the entire 2012 season in AAA. I think that it is a fair assumption that, given the Phillies’ increasingly large payroll and Shane Victorino’s age, Victorino is allowed to walk at the end of the season and is replaced in the lineup in 2013 by Brown. I never hear/read this discussed but this is my assumption, anyway.
In any event, Juan Pierre may wind up being Philly’s fourth outfielder for a big chunk of the season. Why is that? Well, my guess is that Philly does not want to play Jim Thome in the field at all, as he hasn’t played in the field in a number of years. This means that the everyday 1B until Ryan Howard returns is either Laynce Nix or Ty Wigginton. Also, consider that this is an old roster and that a number of the every day players–Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley–have spent a fair amount of time on the DL over the past 2-3 years. Polanco, in particular, may be a real dud this season, as his back is pretty close to being shot. If/when either Polanco or Utley is on the DL, then Wigginton is the replacement every day player at either 2B or 3B. If/when Polanco AND Utley are on the DL simultaneously, then Wigginton and Michael Martinez are your starting 2B and 3B. In other words, Wigginton figures to spend a fair amount of time this season at either 2B or 3B, rather than 1B. Again, I am guessing that Nix gets a significant number of the starts at 1B while Howard is out. I’m not sure what the time table is for Howard’s return but my guess is that Philly isn’t so sure, either, and will not want to rush him back.
My guess is that Pierre is the team’s fourth OF while Howard is out and, again, since Victorino is fairly injury-prone, Pierre will likely get a fair number of starts in the OF this season. I have to say that Pierre is a perfectly adequate fourth OF, especially at this price.
Pierre isn’t an obstacle in the way of Dom Brown. While Howard is on the DL, Pierre’s the 4th OF, which is a role that makes no sense for Dom Brown. If Dom Brown has an incredible Spring Training or a great start in AAA and is worthy of being called up, Juan Pierre (nor Laynce Nix for that matter) won’t keep him out of the lineup.
What’s Amaro supposed to say when asked this question? “No matter how well Domonic Brown plays in spring training, he will be spending the entire season in AAA”? The roster construction gives it away; very hard to imagine Brown in Philly this season.
Comment by Robbie G. — January 27, 2012 @ 10:59 pm
2011: 96 SB
I don’t think the trend has anything to do with Davey Lopes leaving and more to do with the age of Utley, Victorino, Rollins, ect and loss of Werth.
Comment by DavidCEisen — January 28, 2012 @ 12:05 am
Eh, they are the same person.
Comment by DavidCEisen — January 28, 2012 @ 12:05 am
Too much free time, too little of it spent on meaningful analysis? I mean… couldn’t you sum up every minor league signing in one of three ways?
1. Team signs guy who is washed up and kind of sucks to minor league contract.
2. Team signs guy who may not have recovered enough from injury to play this year to minor league contract.
3. Team signs busted prospect who never even got a chance to suck to minor league contract.
In this case, it is option #1. If Pierre was worth anything, someone would have signed him to a major league deal. Instead, maybe he gets to be a pinch runner/contact guy on a team which will have a spare spot for a couple months.
I’d say it’s a smart move for now, as it costs them basically nothing unless they sign him when the season starts. Even if they do, league minimum for a guy who can run and doesn’t strike out much is liveable. And if somebody gets a little bump in the OF and is day-to-day, he’s a replacement who you can live with.
I mean, while last season all metrics hated him, previously Pierre was at least a slightly plus defender. In aggregate, he’s no worse than Darnell McDonald and nobody was killing the Red Sox for using him as a role player the last couple of seasons. Was Ross a better deal? Sure. But the Phillies don’t need a Ross, they just have a spare roster spot they don’t want to spend anything on.
I’m not going to call bias, but the Red Sox trading away both SS does genuinely worry me as a Red Sox fan. I don’t know what is with their recent fetish over collecting RP guys via trades, but I’m beginning to worry if it’s reaching clinical levels (e.g. “I’ll give you Youk for Hanrahan, straight up!”)
juan pierre is being paid to show up to spring training. that’s it. given the phillies depth issues last season and the extremely limited committment to pierre, how is this anything but a good move for them? also, it wasn’t *that* long ago that pierre rated as an above average fielder and, of course, he does that one other thing (run fast–as measured by his Bsr) really well. giving pierre 700 PAs is one thing, but asking him to pinch run twice a week and then play the OF is quite another. it seems like the phillies are potentially putting themselves to reap the maximum benefit of what pierre provides.
additionally, none of these moves–the nix or pierre signings–change the math on brown. the word is they want him demonstrate the changes to his swing in AAA. but if he does it in ST, then the LF job is his. it’s tough for me to fault amaro’s logic here. it’s not like brown is to the point where he has *nothing* to prove in AAA.
i apologize if this seemed ad hom, as that was not my attempt. i was, however, crying bias (or slow news day)…although i don’t have a dog in this fight. it makes no difference to me whether FG likes or dislikes amaro’s moves or philosophy (even if it is a little amusing that there is some concordance).
Comment by cable fixer — January 28, 2012 @ 2:25 am
also, the roster fit issue is debatable re: pierre. as a below commentator noted, given how many close games the phillies play, i’m not sure it’s a bad thing to have a terrific baserunner on the bench for late inning situations.
Comment by cable fixer — January 28, 2012 @ 2:33 am
As a Phils fan, I am happy to see Reuben make this kind of move, not just for getting a player who one year ago was hitting lead-off for the White Sox, but for getting him at the no-risk, ultra-cheap price they did. This is the type of buy-low move that AA or BB get loads of kudos for all the time.
Encouraging as well that it seems within MLB player community, Philadelphia is one of the more desirable destinations–an unheard of thought during the Bill Giles days. Similar to Cliff Lee taking less money, if Juan Pierre was willing to take a minor league deal, he could have chosen any team he wanted, and he chose the Phils. Again, as a Phillies fan, that makes you feel pretty good.
I don’t think this affects Dom Brown in any way. It’s a minor-league deal…does anyone really think a good ST from Brown will be ignored because they’d rather keep Pierre as a 5th OF? I do think he needs to play himself into the starting spot but this doesn’t change anything.
And what is with people acting like Amaro saying he wants Brown in AAA is gospel? Amaro always says things he doesn’t really mean. Every year he says he doesn’t see himself making a big deal at the deadline right before he does. He said he was happy with the bench right before he traded Valdez. In reality he’s just lowering expectations to take pressure off him. I’m sure he’s hoping he plays himself into a starting role on opening day.
Defending this deal on the merits:
1) The Phillies need someone to be a fifth outfielder.
2) The article does not propose a different solution, other than playing Brown more. While I agree they should play Brown more, that’s completely unrelated to signing a fifth outfielder, as you’d never want Brown to have that role.
3) He’s free. The team has not even committed a minimum salary deal to Pierre.
4) In 2009 Pierre was worth 2 WAR. In 2010 he was worth 3 WAR. (around 8 and 12 million in value).
5) Pierre’s 2011 collapse in value (3 WAR to -.4) was based largely on a 20+-run collapse in his defense; given the amount of UZR data needed for an accurate reading, the collapse is more likely to be a fluke than a similar offensive collapse.
6) Even if it wasn’t a fluke, the Phillies are playing replacement level rates for a replacement level 26th man (to be replaced whenever Howard is healthy).
I don’t see how this is anything but eminently reasonable. And, yes, I think certain teams inspire Fangraphs to look for the good in any transaction, while certain teams inspire the opposite reaction. Hence my original post.
Don’t worry. They’re going to use the money they saved on Scutaro to sign Oswalt. You have to evaluate that trade through that lens. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense, as Scutaro is a 2-3 WAR, reasonably priced SS on a team trying to contend.
From the Scutaro article last month discussing the Lowrie trade:
“With Marco Scutaro in tow, the Red Sox feel they have shortstop well covered for 2012. The team is trying to win now, and Scutaro at shorstop gives them the best chance in 2012.”
Along the lines of “How many PH AB’s will the Phils have this year in a 1 run game in the 9th?” – I think that in addition to the points raised above, part of the thought process might be that they have a lot of starters who are expected to go deep into the game (7+ innings), and without double switches, they are looking at only pinch hitting for the pitcher once most games (i.e., Halladay/Lee/Hamels starts). Thome will likely be the first guy off the bench to pinch hit in those situations, and when he gets on, they’ll need a pinch runner. As noted in the article, this burns bench spots, but they can probably afford it and don’t need to carry as many relievers as most other teams.
You guys need to tell your guy on Clubhouse Confidential to blink every once in a while, he’s coming off as really creepy……
Comment by DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy — January 28, 2012 @ 11:35 am
I actually commented in the chat about how Dave basically spelled out the phillies front office from 2006-2011 but it didnt get posted. Draft Well, lock up young position players early, and have a constantly changing rotation. Seems like the phillies. Sure theyre were some overpays and mistakes but they are definitely following that philosophy
If you want to have this discussion you should look at rates before, during and after Lopes tenure. The raw totals are meaningless for evaluating the effectiveness of Lopes coaching without the context in which they arose.
Amaro did say that Brown would spend the year in AAA earlier. This entails that no matter how well Brown plays in ST he won’t win the starting job. Perhaps one shouldn’t say that out loud in public, but, then again, one is committed to what is entailed by what one says.
^Agreed…sort of. Those two deals aside, there is a good bit of overlap with his painted-in-broad-strokes organizational philosophy, which was my point. Given the way the howard deal tends to color all phillies coverage on this site, I admit the comment struck me as surprising. That’s all.
Comment by cable fixer — January 28, 2012 @ 11:03 pm
Anyone who has watched Dom Brown play defense in the OF would realize he needs more time in AAA. Also, its a minor-league depth signing…zero way for it to be bad. Either he performs and gets the league minimum or he doesnt and he’s cut.
Brown is never going to be a 5th OF on the bench as that makes ZERO sense if they ever want him to develop as a player.
Bourn plays an excellent CF and can get on base to use his wheels. He’s had 2 off years, but was very good in his one year in Philly, put up great OBP numbers in the minors and respectable OBPs in 4 of his 5 MLB seasons.
It is probably a combination of losing Lopes, the aging of the players – although interestingly, Utley was 14 for 14 last year – and the loss of Werth that have impacted the base-stealing statistics. While the number of successful SB’s has dropped, so has the number of attempts. However, the attempts have declined at a slower pace than the successes, which is shown by the fact that the SB% was the lowest in the last 4 years.
2011: 96 for 120 (80.0%)
2010: 108 for 129 (83.7%)
2009: 119 for 147 (81.0%)
2008: 136 for 161 (84.4%)
I don’t think the Phillies view him as inconsequential. I suspect these signings are more a reflection of the Phillies improving on their laughably terrible bench last year. As for Mayberry’s PT, I’d wager he sees significant time at OF/1B early. Depending on how he performs through Memorial Day will probably impact whether he gets 300 ABs (as he did last year) or 500 A/Bs.
O/U 400 ABs?
I’d probably take the over…others?
Comment by cecilcoop — January 29, 2012 @ 11:45 am
I actually do see it through that lens, but to me it seems like a huge risk to let a solid SS go because you want to scratch a lottery ticket on a pitcher with a history of back issues. I think Oswalt could be a solid bargain this year, but it’s no bargain if you have to give up an existing bargain to get him…
Comment by Matty Brown — January 29, 2012 @ 8:50 pm
John Mayberry was awfully good down the stretch last season and I am guessing that he is the every day LF. I don’t think the Phillies view him as a platoon player anymore. Dude had a better year at the plate than Ryan Howard last year. If Charlie Manuel had the guts to move Shane Victorino up to the leadoff spot and bump Jimmy Rollins down to where he belongs (#6 spot) then Mayberry could move up into the #5 or even the #3 spot (so as to sandwich two right-handed batters, Mayberry and Hunter Pence, in between Ryan Howard).
1 Shane Victorino
2 Chase Utley
3 John Mayberry
4 Ryan Howard
5 Hunter Pence
6 Jimmy Rollins
7 Carlos Ruiz
8 Placido Polanco
my comment must have been unclear. i was referring to the 105 games bourn played as a phillie in 2007 when he only accrued 105+ ABs. bourn was used in a role very similar to how pierre might project–which, as you correctly note, has value.
put another way, my point wasn’t that bourn didn’t have promise (he did) or that pierre on the downswing (he is), but rather how they would fit onto a roster and how they would be used for the period when they were on the phillies. if we were to fast forward to october, would a line for pierre of 80 games, 80+ ABs surprise you? probably not, right?
Comment by josh cohen — January 31, 2012 @ 10:17 am
given the phillies woeful bench, they should be looking to bring in as much redundancy to ST as possible. pierre’s BsR is still elite and represents a potential improvement on posednick.
Comment by cable fixer — January 31, 2012 @ 10:25 am