Stop Screwing Around and Trade Juan Pierre Already

Scuttlebutt is that the Phillies and Orioles are talking about a trade involving Juan Pierre. But those talks have hit a snag. Such news could prompt any number of reactions, but my favorite is this one.

“Immovable WTF??” indeed.

When the Phillies signed Pierre in the offseason, then started playing him, I envisioned something worse than what he’s become. Specifically, I imagined a formidable volcano, its base somewhere in short left field at Citizens Bank Park, that was home to an angry and vengeful god. Except this volcano god would subsist not on the sacrifice of virgins, as the volcano gods of old did, but instead on outs. I imagined Juan Pierre, holding a spear and dressed in traditional Maori warrior garb, dragging bushel after bushel of outs up the mountain and tossing them into the caldera. Dozens, hundreds of outs. Enough outs to satisfy the hunger of ten angry volcano gods.

But you know what? He hasn’t been that bad. He’s blooped, bleeped and BABIPed his way to a 92 OPS+ and a 104 wRC+. Even as a bad defensive corner outfielder, both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference have him at 1.2 WAR this season. Now, no one’s going to confuse him with Rickey Henderson (or even Ricky Ledee) with those numbers, but for less than a million dollars on a one-year contract? That’s a bargain.

Now, August 31 is not actually the trade deadline. July 31 is the non-waiver trade deadline, but after that date, anyone who clears waivers can still be moved. No player acquired after August 31, however, can be added to the postseason roster, so September trades, particularly for free agents-to-be like Pierre, are rare.

But the Orioles, who are, somewhat inexplicably, very much in contention for a division title, need outfield depth. For a team with designs on winning the toughest division in baseball, the Orioles have seen an awful lot of the likes of Steve Pearce and Nate McLouth. With the expanded rosters, Pierre is probably worth a stab if the price is right. I don’t think I’d give up an asset for 3 weeks of Juan Pierre, but depending on the asset, it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world.

So it was probably the Phillies who shot this deal down. According to the rumor, the Phillies didn’t trade Pierre because they “wouldn’t get much in return.”

I’m sorry, what?

Juan Pierre has 3 weeks left on his contract. He will generate no draft pick compensation as a free agent. The Phillies, in Domonic Brown and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Darin Ruf, have two guys who could use at-bats in left field far more than Pierre. Going into tonight’s games, the Phillies had a 0.7 percent chance of even making the play-in game (though as the Phillies are up 3-1 through 6 1/2 innings as this is posted, that number will probably go up some if the score holds). Nevertheless, they’ll need to stage a comeback on the order of the 2007 Colorado Rockies to even get into a one-game playoff to get to a playoff series where they’ll be handed every disadvantage. If you go back to their lowest point, a Phillies playoff appearance would mark the second-greatest comeback in baseball history. Hold that thought–we’ll come back to it.

Let’s assume the Phillies aren’t going to make the playoffs. If Pierre walks, the Phillies get nothing. If they trade him, they get a minor leaguer, albeit likely one whose odds of making a major-league impact are just as long as the Phillies’ odds of making the playoffs this season. The Orioles ain’t trading Dylan Bundy for a three-week rental on a fourth outfielder.

But still, something, literally anything, is better than nothing. Pierre has zero long-term future in Philadelphia, so if the Phillies get back a sixer of Natty Bo and the a copy of the fifth season of The Wire on DVD, the Phillies win the trade. There is literally no reason for the Phillies to hang on to Pierre. Even if they want him back next season, he’ll be a free agent, and if he refuses to re-sign, who cares? There will be other free-agent outfielders this winter, the vast majority of whom will be better than Pierre. Could they be holding out for a better org guy in return? Maybe, but there’s a pretty good chance the Orioles either trade for a different outfielder or stand pat entirely. Better to take an offer while you know one is on the table.

So the only possible reason to keep Juan Pierre is to help the team this season. I gave up on the Phillies’ playoff chances months ago, but maybe Ruben Amaro isn’t so easily convinced. Fair enough–he runs the team, so if he wants to be optimistic, that’s his prerogative.

So let’s think about what that says: that someone in the Phillies’ front office believes that the difference between staging the second-greatest comeback in major league history and not staging the second-greatest comeback in major league history is Juan Pierre.

For God’s sake–just get rid of him already.

 

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40 comments

  1. Jesse

    September 10, 2012 08:30 PM

    Fifth Season of The Wire was not very good. Just sayin’.

  2. nik

    September 10, 2012 08:30 PM

    Baltimore isnt going to give more than a pocket-full of cash or a complete non-prospect for 3 weeks of playoff-ineligible Juan Pierre. He’s still good pinch runner and clubhouse presence. I would not trade him for the simple fact that it would be seen as a give-up move while the club has finally hit a period of real optimism which is helpful – if not for this year, then going into next.

  3. Jesse

    September 10, 2012 08:32 PM

    Also, do not understand your anger here. This is an absolutely meaningless move either way. There is almost no chance Pierre makes a difference down the stretch if he stays and almost no chance any player we get back will be worth anything. This is less of a story than J-Roll and Hustlegate and that says something.

  4. ryan

    September 10, 2012 08:57 PM

    every season of the wire is great

  5. Jesse

    September 10, 2012 09:00 PM

    Yeah, but the Fifth was so much worse by comparison. Simon let his anger about the state of journalism get in the way of telling a truly realistic and compelling story, which is what made the other seasons so good. Still some great moments though.

  6. Frank Reynolds

    September 10, 2012 09:37 PM

    I can’t believe that they would be willing to give us a player(an actual body) for him. I would think they are trying to give us cash for him. I really don’t think it matters if he says or goes. I will say that I have been pleased by his performance this year.

  7. pedro3131

    September 10, 2012 09:55 PM

    He’s 3rd among OUTFIELDERS in WAR… Eric Kratz produced more value in 40 games. Utley produced more value in 120 fewer plate appearances.

    Did you guys not read the article? The Phillies can either get 3 more or less meaningless weeks out of him now, or trade him and get some value for the future.

  8. drake

    September 10, 2012 10:01 PM

    Not to mention Pierre isn’t going to get much time with Schierholtz back. I’d say it’s more worthwhile to see what Nate’s got and he’s a better player anyways.

  9. Chris

    September 11, 2012 12:51 AM

    Look I could envision a scenario where Pierre is actually useful to the ball club during this stretch run(however unlikely it is that the Phils make the playoffs) more easily than I can see a scenario for what we get back for Pierre would generate any major league value ever. You’re not going to get anything for Pierre, period.

  10. Josh G

    September 11, 2012 01:56 AM

    I have to think RAJ and Dan Duquette don’t get along very well (or they won’t in the future)

  11. JR

    September 11, 2012 02:03 AM

    The Phil’s have managed to increase their playoff odds from 1.5 percent from .1 percent in a couple of weeks and this is the post you make! The odds of making the playoffs are better than the odds of getting anything better than Eric Bruntlett past his prime in a trade. Is this a political campaign where people talk about everything but the real issues? With the expanded roster, the Phil’s can keep Pierre and still bring up the youngsters! Why get rid of at least a decent pinch runner and bunter to get nothing in return?

  12. Dan

    September 11, 2012 05:34 AM

    Actually they went from 0.7 to 1.5 in one day last night

  13. hk

    September 11, 2012 05:52 AM

    I disagree with the premise of this article unless Dan Duquette is so desperate to find an OF to replace Markakis that he’ll significantly overpay for Pierre. Otherwise, if I’m choosing between two long shots, I’d rather take the chance that Pierre contributes to the non-zero possibility that the Phils get into a playoff / the playoffs than the chance that the player they’ll receive from Baltimore who will ever provide a significant contribution to the organization. Also, since this is September, it’s not as if Pierre being on the roster means he is taking playing time away from a younger player who needs the PA’s (Brown, Mayberry and Schierholtz, when healthy).

  14. hk

    September 11, 2012 06:02 AM

    One trade that I would do is Pierre for Wilson Betemit. Betemit is no longer needed in Baltimore since the O’s have Manny Machado playing 3B and the Phils could use him to upgrade over Mini Mart at 3B for the remainder of the regular season games this year and to be the LH part (.354 lifetime wOBA vs. RHP’s) of a 3B platoon next year.

  15. Ann Marie

    September 11, 2012 06:20 AM

    Juan Pierre is valuable because he just never gives up. He goes out there every day with his best effort. I understand that his best effort is not equivalent to what others might be but his attitude is a balm to the fans and possibly an example to his team mates.

  16. yomama

    September 11, 2012 06:54 AM

    why trade anything for nothing

  17. RR

    September 11, 2012 07:25 AM

    “Why trade anything for nothing” … exactly … maybe they have some extra practice equipment BAL can use … little point in disrupting whatever’s going on with the team now for a big bunch of nothing … the time to trade was earlier, during the last two months

  18. SorryForTheInconvenience

    September 11, 2012 07:37 AM

    Great article, Giancarlo!

  19. Jar

    September 11, 2012 07:58 AM

    I’d bet anything the reason we haven’t traded Juan is that teams only offered cash, and he doesn’t make anything so the Phills have no reason to trade him. We actually got something for Thome, I guess that’s enough for fleecing the O’s this year.

  20. Gio

    September 11, 2012 07:58 AM

    5 back with 21 to go. I understand the odds are more against us than we overcame 7 back/17 to go with the Mets. But I wouldn’t just give away Pierre – he has more value to us in these last 3 weeks than the bag of balls we’d get from the O’s.

  21. nik

    September 11, 2012 09:17 AM

    What kind of signal would giving up Pierre send to the players and the fans? This has a potential to be an exciting final 3 weeks, why shit on it by giving away a guy.

  22. hk

    September 11, 2012 10:06 AM

    nik,

    While I agree that they should keep Pierre unless they can get a worthwhile return, I wouldn’t be too caught up in what signal trading him would send to the players. After all, the players have gone 24-14 since sending receiving whatever signal they received from the front office trading Victorino, Pence and Blanton at the deadline.

  23. Evan

    September 11, 2012 10:17 AM

    The Wire seasons best to worst: 1, 4, 3, 5, 2.

  24. Evan

    September 11, 2012 10:18 AM

    Also, the Phils are 5.5 back and the Cardinals have a ridiculously easy schedule for the rest of the season.

  25. nik

    September 11, 2012 10:42 AM

    No, its 5.0 back.

  26. Ivan DeJesus III

    September 11, 2012 10:49 AM

    I love this site and its point of view, but this is a silly article. Over a 20-game stretch in which every game is important, Pierre has some potential value–as a pinch-runner, as a bunter (I know, I know), as someone who’s been lucky in getting on base this season. Expecting that management will trade even a minor asset with tactical utility for some sort of unknown nothingness while the team is trying, against all odds and possibly to your chagrin, to make the playoffs is asking a bit too much rationality from any organization. The short-term, in this case, matters, to players and fans and that’s a real consideration if you’re Amaro. On the matter of comparing longshots: the upside of potentially staging that comeback outweighs the upside of trading Pierre for the junkiest of junk. And my tune could easily change entirely if we knew what we might get for him.

  27. Phillie697

    September 11, 2012 11:41 AM

    No offense, people, but we gave up when we traded Pence and Shane. What signal are we sending to the fans? Really? THAT’s your reason for not trading Pierre? Apparently anyone who’s rational is not allowed to be fans based on some of the comments here.

  28. hk

    September 11, 2012 11:52 AM

    Phillie,

    The argument that they should not trade Pierre because it sends the wrong signal is one that is being made by one or at most two responders on here. Most of us who are arguing against trading Pierre are doing so on the basis that we believe that there’s a better chance that Pierre helps the Phillies get into the playoffs this year than that they get a return for Pierre in a trade that ever provides them with any value. And yes, we all understand that the chances of Pierre helping the Phillies get into the playoffs are incredibly low.

  29. Phillie697

    September 11, 2012 04:30 PM

    @hk,

    Since you’re the logical one, let me ask you to do a simple statistics calculation: For keeping Pierre to matter, the Phillies actually have to MAKE the playoffs, so the expected return of keeping Pierre would be (value Pierre provides to the team) * (chance of us making the playoffs). On the other hand, if we trade Pierre, the value we get back is GUARANTEED. Since you admit that the chance of us making the playoffs is incredibly low, what does that tell you? Even not having to pay him three weeks is a net positive gain, albeit a tiny one.

    Not all trades involve minor league players must provide value at the major league level in order to be a net positive gain. Minor league teams need depth so that they can provide meaningful competition to actual MLB prospects.

  30. hk

    September 11, 2012 05:59 PM

    Phillie,

    I hear what you are saying. I just can’t imagine that any major league GM is willing to give up more than cash or a non-prospect for 3 regular season weeks of Juan Pierre. The organization getting salary cap relief or cash has no value to me as a fan and the type of non-prospect that I suspect they would otherwise get is the type that also would provide little to no value to me as a fan. Again, understanding the extremely long odds that they face, I would sooner hold out hope that (a) the team makes the playoffs and (b) that Juan Pierre helps in some fashion (PH or PR) in one or more of those wins. If this was August and Pierre was taking a roster spot from a player who I would sooner see get AB’s, I would be all for trading him. However, it’s September and the Phils have a 1.5% chance of making the playoffs and to me, doing everything they can to make the playoffs supersedes getting a non-prospect or cash.

  31. hk

    September 11, 2012 06:41 PM

    Phillie,

    Further to my point above, I think it is also important to compare the the best case scenarios of the two long shot situations in play here. The best case scenario of getting some cash back for Pierre does nothing for me. The best case scenario of getting into the playoffs does a lot for me. If I’m talking about long shots, I’d rather my payoff be a Ferrari than a Pinto if the nearly impossible actually does happen.

  32. Phillie697

    September 12, 2012 09:58 AM

    Well, actually, hk, the best case scenario in trading Pierre is that we somehow get some no-name 60th round pick that nobody even cared about, and he end up playing his way to a HoF career. Extremely unlikely, but hey, just ask Mike Piazza if it can happen.

  33. hk

    September 12, 2012 10:07 AM

    Phillie,

    Fair enough. However, I would submit that (value Pierre provides to the team) * (chance of us making the playoffs) > (chance of Baltimore trading a prospect instead of cash for Pierre) * (chance that that prospect, if traded for Pierre, turns out to be ~ the next Mike Piazza). Therefore, I’ll continue to disagree with the premise of this article while still understanding that the premise is a rational one.

  34. Phillie697

    September 12, 2012 10:16 AM

    @hk,

    Best thing about this site is that the regulars are all perfectly accepting of the fact that we can all have differing views :)

  35. malcolm

    September 14, 2012 01:52 PM

    you gave up on the phillies playoff hopes months ago? bandwagoner. boo. we want real baseball fans.

  36. Ron

    September 15, 2012 02:44 PM

    Normally I’d say trade him….but moving him or not moving him isn’t going to hurt us. Might as well keep him. Why even slightly stifle our bench if we don’t have to?

  37. Lefty

    September 22, 2012 01:13 PM

    “So let’s think about what that says: that someone in the Phillies’ front office believes that the difference between staging the second-greatest comeback in major league history and not staging the second-greatest comeback in major league history is Juan Pierre.”

    Excellent, MB, truly excellent.

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