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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Genius That Is Steve Phillips

My head is hurting already:
Todd (Illlinois)
Thanks for the chat Steve. Heard any news out of L.A. about Pierre or Ethier getting traded? Is Pierre for sure going to go back to the bench, even if he keeps hitting well?

Steve Phillips
The Dodgers plan is for Juan Pierre to go to the bench and start two games a week. It doesn't feel fair to me and my guess is that it won't feel fair to his teammates either. He's hit better than Ethier. [emphasis mine] But I don't expect to see Ethier or Kemp to sit more than once to let Pierre play. If anyone gets traded it will be Pierre, because of the contract he has and his age. The Dodgers will keep the younger, less expensive player in Ethier. Pierre would be a great addition to any team and would be a good value if hte Dodgers were to pick up some of the salary. I would take him on my team for sure.

Shockingly, Phillips is right, at least measured by VORP (14.3 vs. 12.2 for Ethier), but only just.
Dennis (Santa Clarita, CA)
Steve, you've seen the Dodgers now a couple of weeks in a row. What's your read of Russell Martin? Almost not [sic] power, about 50 points below his life time average. What's up?

Steve Phillips
Other than that, he looks like exactly the same guy. It's hard to know what to make of his rapid decline over the last couple of years. Sometimes when players struggle like this it's because they're trying too hard by trying to make up for lost hits in previous at bats. The good news for the Dodgers, that despite the fact that Martin hasn't produced, they keep winning. You have to believe that once he does get going, the Dodgers should click. I think he'll pick it up and get hot at some point, but he'll only do that if he relaxes and let's his natural game come through. THe power numbers may not be there at the end, but I believe his batting average will be there when it's all said and done.

No wonder he's not running the Mets anymore. The Dodgers, with the best record in the majors, aren't clicking now?

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I'm a little lost here. I think you're more upset at the fact that Pierre is performing well than you are at anything Phillips said.

Did Phillips really say anything that controversial in his chat that deserved this level of ridicule? Given that this was a live chat, and the man wasn't carefully measuring his words, it seems the fact that he used four words ("the Dodgers should click") after already mentioning that they were winning plenty is just the rhetorical equivalent of a sloppy grace note. Bit of a nitpick, no? There are certainly worse typos/factual-errors/etc on sites like this and Halos Heaven on a regular basis, and nobody gives a shit outside of pointing them out, voluntary-copy-editor-style.

Look, I get that much of Dodgerville hates on Pierre. But the guy is simply hitting well, and yes, better than Ethier. In fact, if you are to compare the two players fairly, given that Pierre has 60 fewer ABs than Ethier, you'd use VORPr instead of VORP, or positional MLV (given they both occupy corner OF positions). In either case, the margin between them is significant enough. But whether you use sabermetric stats, or simply the conventional fact that Pierre's BA is 60+ pts higher than Ethier's (and 112 pts better than Ethier with RISP), Pierre is outperforming him at the moment.
I'm not upset by Pierre's performance, only shocked to my toenails, to use Vinny's memorable phrase. He's having a career year, there's no other way to put it.
Well, 2001, 2003 and 2004 weren't too shabby for a leadoff man either. 100+ runs, 45+ steals, and walking more than striking out in each of those seasons. I'm sure any team would gratefully take that. He's been inconsistent, to be sure, but he's had very good seasons along the way.
Not at ten freaking million they won't.

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