The upside of anger about Juan Pierre

Hunter Martin

There is no upside. That's just an obscure reference to a movie title. Go with it.

And Marlins fans were worried. Of course they're still trying to win. Look! They just signed Juan Pierre!

Here's the big news from Joe Capozzi (via The Palm Beach Post):

Juan Pierre is back with the Marlins.

He has agreed to a one-year contract, giving the Marlins an option in center field until top-prospact Christian Yelich is ready.

Pierre, 35, played center for the Marlins from 2003-05. He didn’t miss a game during that tenure and he was a favorite of then-manager Jack McKeon’s because of his strong clubhouse presence and indisputable work ethic.

--snip--

Pierre is a candidate to lead off for Miami, since both Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio are on their way to Toronto.

Yelich is expected to start the year at Class AA Jacksonville. He could get promoted to Miami if he gets off to a strong start.

Fast players generally age well, but that "indisputable work ethic" might have something to do with the fact that Juan Pierre essentially has never changed. Sure, his batting averages have fluctuated over the years -- and with it, his value -- but batting averages fluctuate; that's why they're called batting averages. Pierre's skills are essentially the same today as when he played for the Marlins: sub-par outfielder, hard to walk or strike out, speedy on the bases.

Well, his skills are almost the same. Pierre does the same things, just not quite as well. From 2003 through '5, he was actually quite a good player. Not a great player. But his combination of skills made him a good one. In the seven seasons since, though? Essentially, Pierre's been just another guy. Better than replacement-level in some seasons, and worse in others. And always sort of hovering around that level.

In 2012, Pierre was a bargain for the Phillies at $800,000. In 2013 he's getting a big raise, percentage-wise -- quite a coup for a 35-year-old player -- but should be a bargain for the Marlins at $1.6 million.

But aside from the remnants of the South Florida Chapter of the Juan Pierre Fan Club, this move doesn't likely salve the emotional pain of those locals who feel betrayed by the franchise's latest fire sale. Pierre is merely a place-holder, the sort of player who will at least help keep the Marlins from sinking into abject ineptitude; sign enough Juan Pierres, and you might not lose 100 games.

Because that's the short-term goal on the field. It has to be. Whether this is true or not:

Of course, Beinfest wasn't talking about Juan Pierre; he's not an idiot. Beinfest was referring to seven prospects coming over from the Blue Jays in the fire sale. And maybe he's not just whistling in the dark. Beinfest has done pretty well over the years, when trading veterans for prospects. And I wonder if maybe he's not the perfect man for this particular job. You know how much fun a Rotisserie Baseball draft is? How it's actually the funnest thing about playing in one of those leagues, most years? I think that's how Beinfest feels. Sure, it's fun to sign a bunch of free agents, like he did last year. But the thrill wears off, especially when most of the free agents don't play as well as you expected. But what's this? My owner's ready to start over again? Hurrah! I can imagine a championship!

Consider how many crappy sequels come out of Hollywood every year, maybe Beinfest should be drafted as a screenwriter. It can pay just as well as working for Jeffrey Loria, and Beinfest seems to have the requisite imagination.

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