Friday, January 25, 2008

Dodgers' Outfield Continues to Merit Crowd Control Measures

BUMPED as I unfortunately didn't think of this picture the first time I posted this. (Originally posted 1/23)

Ken Gurnick's position-by-position profile made its way to the outfield today, with an article jump asserting "Four won't be a crowd in Dodgers outfield."

At first, I thought, "Oh I get it, they'll put Juan Pierre in short center field, giving Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp a chance to play every day, while allowing Pierre a chance to throw it to home on two bounces or fewer! And Pierre can shade to his left to back up Jeff Kent's increasingly minimalist defensive range at second!" But then I read on, only to find that no decisions have been made yet and all four outfielders (with starting CF Andruw Jones) will battle it out next year. On Slappy:

As for the corners, Pierre has become perhaps the most polarizing Dodger in recent memory. Fans either are excited by his base-stealing capabilities or dismayed at his defensive shortcomings and one-dimensional speed offense.

But general manager Ned Colletti doesn't seem to share the desire of detractors to dump Pierre. He said he's "fine with the outfield as it is," meaning Pierre and Ethier are more likely to open camp with Jones and Kemp than for one of them to be traded away. He said it wasn't out of "the realm of possibility" that Ethier could start ahead of Pierre.

Torre has said that sorting out the outfield will be a spring priority.

"I know there are more bodies than positions," he said. "I had a conversation with Juan. He was curious. I basically said what I said to Bernie Williams when [the Yankees] signed Kenny Lofton. We'll do what's best for the team. We'll leave for Spring Training with three guys to give it their best shot."

Torre downplayed the shortcomings of Pierre's throwing arm, saying the speed with which an outfielder reaches a ball is more important, citing Johnny Damon as an example. But he also stressed the importance of defense if pitching is the strength of the team, as he believes is the case with the Dodgers.

Yeah, the speed to the ball is important, but if the baserunner can still make it to second on a single before the throw reaches the infield, does speed to the ball matter? Anyone?