Why do you predict Juan Pierre in the starting lineup over Andre Ethier when Ethier is the stronger fielder and by far the stronger hitter? What will Pierre bring to the table that Ethier won't? --Dave C., Santa Barbara, Calif.
I'll let Tito from Gardena, Calif., begin the answer: "I'm tired of all the baseball experts criticizing the season Juan Pierre had. All he did was lead the team in at-bats, runs scored, hits, triples, and -- more importantly -- played in all 162 games! There have been countless Dodgers players hurt for so many games that it's great to see a player come to the ballpark for every game and actually play! What a concept. All Pierre did was what we signed him for: play every day, get close to 200 hits, steal 60-plus bases, and score runs."
Pierre also is a logical leadoff candidate if Rafael Furcal gets hurt and, looking ahead, if Furcal leaves as a free agent after 2008.
Pierre, of course, has his obvious drawbacks, particularly throwing, although that is less of a handicap playing left field than it is in center. He still might get traded. He might sit and watch Ethier play. But general manager Ned Colletti gave Pierre a five-year deal because he liked his game and Pierre's stats, as Tito pointed out, were pretty much on par with his career average.
So, if there isn't a trade, I'm guessing at this point -- before they even show up at Spring Training -- that the veteran with the long-term commitment and the World Series ring is the incumbent until beaten out of the job. And, it's just a guess.
Since Ken Gurnick is using his Dodgers mailbag to play matchmaker amongst fans (rather than answer the question himself, btw), let us here at SoSG further the deal. After all, Dave C. and Tito clearly have a lot to discuss.
First, according to google maps, it's less than a two-hour drive from Santa Barbara to Gardena. Second, I don't know if this could possibly be Tito of Gardena fame? Or maybe he's the proprietor of this taco stand (not to be confused with the famous Culver City Tito's Tacos)? In any event, there's only about 60,000 residents of Gardena, so hopefully you can locate Tito and make a Dodgers connection, continuing the Pierre debate in person. Who knows, perhaps you have other common interests to discuss, like favorite opening chess moves, the prospect for political stability in an increasing multipolar world, or new quilting techniques?
And for the rest of us, let's hope Mr. Gurnick isn't right.