Juan Pierre Rumors
Saturday marked the first full slate of Spring Training games with teams in action all over the states of Arizona and Florida. Teams will play a 35-game schedule this spring, longer than typical years, as a result of the World Baseball Classic taking place at the same time. FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi caught up with the Marlins as they begin the 2013 season with lowered expectations after unloading a major portion of the team's payroll during the offseason.
- Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre says Michael Bourn did well for himself with the contract he signed with the Indians this offseason. Pierre points to power hitters aging more gracefully than players who rely on their speed to score runs. "Guys that run, you get to 31 and (teams) shy away from guys like that," Pierre said. "Bourn is 30. I was 28 when I signed my deal with the Dodgers, right in the prime. It’s a tough thing, because power never goes on you."
- Marlins backup catcher Jeff Mathis broke his collarbone after being hit with a ball while behind the plate on Saturday which further weakens Miami at the position. A reporter suggested manager Mike Redmond, a former catcher, should assume Mathis' responsibilities while the veteran recovers. "I don’t know about that," Redmond said. "I don’t think so. I like the way my body feels right now, the way it is."
Juan Pierre was one of the few people not outraged by the Miami Marlins' blockbuster 12-player trade that sent high-priced players Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to Toronto over the winter.
After all, it helped land him a contract to keep playing.
The 35-year-old Pierre signed a one-year, $1.6MM contract to return to the Marlins despite the belief that many free agents wouldn’t want to sign in Miami after they debuted a new stadium and high hopes for 2012 and then quickly dumped several high-priced players at the first sign of trouble.
“To me it was a no-brainer,” Pierre told a group of reporters at Marlins camp about signing with the Marlins. “I’ve been the underdog my whole career. This type of stuff isn’t bad. I know the media and the fans are upset with what’s gone on, but we had nothing to do with it.
“I’m probably here because they did do the trade. Honestly, a lot of other guys are here because of the trade. So, all you can do is make the best out of it.”
Pierre played three seasons with the Marlins from 2003-2005, playing a key role on their World Championship winning team in 2003. He stole 65 bases in 2003, which remains a club record, and in 2004 set the franchise record with 221 hits.
He returns to the Marlins for his 14th big league season after hitting .307/.351/.371 in 439 plate appearances for the 2012 Phillies. The left-handed hitter broke into the Major Leagues with the Rockies in 2000 and has also played for the Cubs, Dodgers and White Sox.
Pierre has seen plenty during his career but not even he could have predicted the path the Marlins took just months after a spending spree and the promise of huge things in Miami.
But he doesn’t see a big problem with it.
“People don’t understand the business side of baseball,” Pierre said. “I don’t even get all of it. That’s the part of the game I don’t even touch. I know it’s tough for the fans because you do grow attached to a player or grow excited, and then they trade them away for business purposes and bring in another guy. Fans don’t want to hear that.
“These guys that own teams are businessmen first. You don’t get to own teams being dumb businessmen. I know fans don’t want to hear that. Sometimes baseball players don’t want to hear it when you get attached to a city.”
The Marlins signed veteran infielder Placido Polanco to a one-year deal in late December and gave utility man Chone Figgins a chance to win a roster spot with a minor league deal and an invite to big league Spring Training shortly before camp opened.
Their roster is filled with an interesting mix of veterans looking to extend their careers and youngsters looking to break in and make a name for themselves. As Pierre sees it, it’s the perfect combination.
“If you’re a young guy or a guy on the fringe or whatever, this is where you want to be,” Pierre said. “I call it the land of opportunity right now. If you play well, the Marlins will have you in the big leagues, or they’ll get you to somewhere you can go play.
“Most of the guys in our 30s, we’re still hungry because we know pretty much we’re a year from not having a job. It’s a lot of our guys’ last go-round as far as being Major League guys, so we’re as hungry as ever.
“These young whippersnappers, they ought to be excited to be in a big league camp with a chance to make a Major League roster. So, I think you get all that hungriness together, it can pan out for a good season.”
But that problem with the fans remains. Most feel betrayed by the Marlins ownership group and attendance doesn’t figure to be very good. At least at first. “Our job as players is to go out and play hard,” Pierre said.
“The front office, for whatever reason, whatever they did, that’s something they’re going to have to mend. I know how it goes in Florida. You win and you win in consistent fashion and the fans are going to come out.
“All we can control is how we go about our business on the field every day and, hopefully if the fans get around guys, especially young guys who are going out and busting their butts every day, hopefully we get some wins and the fans will come around.”
The sexy pick by some to win the World Series a year ago, the Marlins went out and posted a 69-93 record in the regular season. With a depleted roster and first-year manager in Mike Redmond, nobody will be picking them to win much of anything in 2013.
There’s not much to look forward to this year in Miami. But happy and thankful to still be playing, Pierre has the perfect formula to turn things around.
“I live here, I know the buzz,” Pierre said. “With the new park, you get to winning, you get the momentum going, fans will come out. Winning heals all wounds.”
9:19pm: Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel says it's a one-year agreement worth $1.6MM (Twitter link).
Pierre, 35, hit .307/.351/.371 with 37 steals for the Phillies this season. He'll fill the leadoff void created by the blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays, which will send both Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays. Tim Dierkes did not rank Pierre on his Top 50 Free Agents List.
Though Charlie Manuel will return to manage the Phillies in 2013, Triple-A manager Ryne Sandberg appears to be a “nearly sure bet” to succeed Manuel at some point, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Here are the details on the Phillies from Heyman...
- The Phillies are impressed by Sandberg’s work in the minor leagues, but the 68-year-old Manuel is under contract for 2013. Some insiders say some people in the Phillies organization have been advocating for Sandberg since before the 2011 season. Amaro dismissed that notion, but praised Sandberg. "He's been great. He's done a nice job for us," Amaro said. However, there’s probably “nothing to be done” if another organization looks to hire Sandberg this coming offseason.
- Amaro told Heyman the Phillies aren’t trading Juan Pierre. The Orioles are interested in Pierre, but Philadelphia is just 5.0 games out of the Wild Card race so they are not inclined to make a trade.
The Orioles have some interest in trading for Juan Pierre, but the Phillies aren’t eager to trade him, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. Pierre could replace Nick Markakis, who's out with a broken thumb, and lead off for Baltimore. The Phillies wouldn’t get much in return for Pierre with less than a month remaining in the season, so they’re content to keep him.
Pierre, 35, signed a one-year deal with a base salary of $800K in January. He's been a bargain, posting a .304/.346/.364 batting line in 385 plate appearances, stealing 34 bases in 40 attempts, and amassing nearly as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21). Pierre wouldn’t be eligible for the playoffs if Baltimore traded for him.
Pierre, 35, has hit .300/.343/.363 with 32 steals in 37 attempts for the Philadelphia this year. He's owed approximately $160K the rest of the season, so his salary shouldn't be much of a factor in any trade. The Orioles, Reds, and other teams expressed interest in Pierre before the trade deadline.
The Giants are seeking outfield help following Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). For now the team plans to promote Justin Christian from Triple-A and stick with Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan, and Hunter Pence as the regulars.
Rosenthal reports that Scott Hairston and Juan Pierre have yet to be placed on trade waivers, though the Diamondbacks would likely block both players from getting to San Francisco. Arizona has a higher waiver priority and both Hairston (approximately $300K) and Pierre ($200K) are reasonably priced for the remainder of the season. Alfonso Soriano remains unlikely to approve a trade to the 2010 World Champs.
- A Dodgers-Victorino trade is looking very likely, tweets Heyman. ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the Dodgers are close to acquiring Victorino for Lindblom and a second player. Another sign a deal is imminent: outfielder Domonic Brown was scratched from today's Triple-A game and will be joining the Phillies in Washington, D.C., tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Dodgers are in serious talks for Victorino, reports Heyman. The Phillies have been asking for relievers.
- The Reds and Phillies have ceased talks on Victorino and Juan Pierre, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, putting the Dodgers in a good position for Victorino.
- Potential Phillies target Josh Lindblom became more expendable for the Dodgers after the team acquired Brandon League from the Mariners, wrote Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports early this morning. Lindblom, 25, has a 3.02 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.70 HR/9, and 38% groundball rate in 47 2/3 relief innings this year, so he's had some issues with the longball.
Earlier today, Yahoo's Jeff Passan wrote that the Phillies haven't shopped center fielder Shane Victorino nearly as aggressively as right fielder Hunter Pence, even though Victorino will be eligible for free agency after the season and Pence is under team control for 2013. The latest on the Phillies' outfielders:
- The Dodgers and Reds seem to be the last two Victorino suitors remaining, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets.
- The Giants are discussing Pence, but not Victorino, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Reds still want a leadoff hitter and Victorino has been their top target, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. The Reds don't like the Phillies' asking price for Victorino, and their interest in Pierre seems to have been exaggerated, Knobler writes.
- The Dodgers are more likely to acquire Victorino, but they're also in on Pence, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- The Reds appear to be zeroing in on Pierre, writes ESPN's Jayson Stark. He says the Dodgers look like the frontrunner on Victorino, while teams that have checked in on Pence believe the Phillies will wait until the offseason.
- The Phillies' asking price on Victorino is outrageous, an executive of one team tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- The Orioles have interest in Victorino, Pence, and Juan Pierre, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, who notes Pierre is the best fit cost-wise. The Reds have quietly evaluated Pierre as a possible target since June, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, and USA Today's Bob Nightengale says the Reds' coaching staff loves him.
- The Pirates did not seem alive on Victorino as of late last night, tweeted Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Giants, Reds, and Dodgers have been named as other potential suitors for the 31-year-old. Victorino is hitting .261/.324/.401 in 431 plate appearances this year.
- The Phillies have pushed Pence but want a big return, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Salisbury says most interest is on Victorino and starter Joe Blanton.
The Phillies entered this weekend needing to perform well in a critical series against the division rival Braves. Instead, they were swept and now appear to be in the position to sell off several pieces. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Phillies could be baseball's "most active sellers" in the next two days, and that they've laid the groundwork for several trades. Olney's colleague Jayson Stark hears from several teams that the Phillies could make 2-3 trades prior to Tuesday's deadline, though they've yet to officially declare themselves sellers (Twitter link).
CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury agrees that selling is likely, and runs down several of the possibilities for the Phillies in the coming days. Salisbury writes that Shane Victorino is the "most likely" Phillie to be dealt, and lists the Giants, Pirates, Reds and Dodgers as possible destinations for Victorino. Interest in Victorino was said to be "heating up" as recently as yesterday.
The Reds have also inquired on Juan Pierre, and both the Orioles and Cardinals are potential destinations for Joe Blanton according to Salisbury. He also says that Hunter Pence could be moved if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is blown away by an offer, and speculates that Ty Wigginton would fit on several teams looking for bench help.
Salisbury reiterates that the Phillies are likely to keep Cliff Lee for the time being, although he could be shopped this offseason in an attempt to fill multiple holes.