May 1, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Juan Pierre (9) connects for a base hit during the second inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Upon hearing that his obituary had been published in a New York newspaper, Mark Twain famously wrote, “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” I have a feeling that Juan Pierre must know exactly how Twain felt reading of his own demise.
The early part of the season has served to confirm the worst fears about 2013 Miami Marlins – that they truly are as bad as they looked on paper coming into the season. Naturally, the focus of the fans and media has quickly turned to how this team will improve in future seasons. It helps us avoid having to deal with the disaster the Marlins have become on a nightly basis. The Marlins have also done their part to fuel this sentiment by promoting several of their better prospects way ahead of schedule. Recently, I have seen several items on the Internets about the Marlins future lineup, for example this one by our own Daniel Z. on Marlin Maniac and another over at Fish Stripes.
One thing everyone seems to agree on is that Pierre is the struggling veteran who needs to be pushed aside ASAP so that Christian Yelich can be called up to take his spot. Pierre’s dismal early season numbers, currently .241/.289/.278 (wOBA .257), have been cited as the proof of his career’s final plunge into the abyss. But is Pierre really done?
After a difficult April, things have changed for JP in the month of May. The Marlins called up veteran right handed hitting OF Matt Diaz on May 2nd and Mike Redmond has quietly taken advantage of his availability to utilize Pierre as a platoon player since then. The results have been overwhelmingly positive for Pierre, to say the least. Take a look at the Marlins top 3 hitters for the month of May:
I think the decision to bench him becomes a bit tougher now that you are talking about benching the Marlins’ top offensive player this month for an unproven rookie. I know that Pierre has no future with this team, but don’t the Marlins still have the responsibility to try to win games by putting the best available lineup on the field this season. Of course, I am skeptical that Pierre can keep this up, but he did hit .329/.374/.405 (wOBA .343) against RHP just last season so there is a possibility that he can. If nothing else, keeping Pierre in the lineup builds up his trade value so that the Marlins can at least get a middling prospect for him at the trade deadline.
Yelich is raking in Double A to the tune of .319/.390/.659 (wOBA .456) and the power he is showing is exactly the element most sorely needed on the Marlins. However, he only has 105 plate appearances above Single A and currently has a strike out rate of 25%, which would surely rise when facing major league pitching. In addition, delaying the promotion of Yelich will almost certainly ensure his eligibility for salary arbitration is delayed for a year (not that the Marlins front office appears to understand how this works).
I want to see Yelich up as much as anyone, but delaying the inevitable a bit may be the best course of action. Bringing him up now is probably not going to make the Marlins a much better team, especially when it would mean replacing one of your few positive contributors. Besides, Yelich still appears to have some room for development so why not do it in a situation with not as much pressure.
Now if only Yelich could show he can play third base: