Thursday, March 06, 2008

LA beats Boston

I watched my first baseball game of the year today, as the Dodgers played the Red Sox. Most of the game it was all Red Sox, as they took a 5-1 lead. The Dodgers put a lot of people on base with one out, but throughout the game had an annoying habit of hitting into inning ending double plays.

Then in the 9th, the Red Sox minor leaguers blew a 5-2 lead to the Dodger minor leaguers. They tied it up with a 3 run homer, loaded the bases, and Jason Repko hit a grand slam. True, it's only spring training, but watching the Red Sox lose is always enjoyable.

Some observations: Ellsbury is really good. I guess people who watched the world series last year already know this. Jed Lowrie looks overmatched as a shortstop. He might turn into a decent 2B for another team (he sure won't move Pedroia). Matt Kemp is one awkward looking outfielder, despite good speed. He sure can hit though, he's a young Manny Ramirez. Juan Pierre covers a ton of ground in left field. He had a good game, getting on base a few times including a cool bunt to the shortstop. But the stats say he doesn't have nearly enough games like this, if he did he wouldn't be making 500 outs a year.

Juan Pierre in left isn't as bad as most people think, myself included. Checking the numbers, I have Pierre as -13 runs on offense (hitting 288/333/363) and Ethier at 279/348/436, a league average hitter. But I've also got Pierre as +13 for range in left field, with Ethier at +1. While I don't have the exact numbers, Ethier has a much better arm but Pierre helps you more on the bases.

Because of contracts, the ideal solution would be to salary dump Pierre and play Ethier. Even if Pierre can't be moved, it might be advisable to play Ethier because he's younger and has the potential to become something more. But given you have both players, it doesn't make that much difference to the Dodger's 2008 division chances which one gets to play. This is at odds with what most people are saying, myself included. I think I might have said Pierre playing would cost the Dodgers 2 wins or something like that. I was talking out my ass, focusing much too exclusively on hitting. The numbers don't support that.

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From what I've heard and read, Ethier is anywhere from a 1.5 to 3 win improvement in LF over Pierre. I think any range advantage Pierre has in LF is erased by his terrible arm.
vr, Xei

 
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