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Why Juan Pierre keeps getting work

Aug 7, 2012, 12:32 PM EDT

Juan Pierre Getty Getty Images

Juan Pierre has been a below average hitter with some speed (though not stellar base running skills) and meh-to-poor defense for several years now. Seemingly everywhere he’s gone, the fan base soon starts to cry out for his ouster.  Yet Pierre continues to find work and continues to get playing time at a rate which seems to outpace his performance.

Why?  Mostly because the guy works his butt off, and teams really like having guys like that around:

The daily routine begins around 3:30 p.m.

Juan Pierre plays a short game of catch with Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin before stepping into the batting cage for a prolonged session of bunting practice. Mackanin is his pitcher … The 34-year outfielder lays down bunt after bunt after bunt while his teammates are still inside the air-conditioned clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.

Ruben Amaro waxes approvingly of him too. We’ve heard things similar to this everywhere he’s played. I wonder what the shelf life of a player with his exact performance but without the work ethic would be in the bigs.

  1. cur68 - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    Hey! Nothing less than over-the-top praise for Peanut Head is acceptable! The man is The Ophence this season. He’s carried that team on his narrow shoulders. Go Peanut Head! A nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo) …

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    He is having a nice season. As a bench OF, there is nothing wrong with him. Baseball Reference and Fangraphs have his WAR at 1.3 and 1.2 respectively with 89 games played. I wouldn’t want to throw him out there everyday, but he is well deserving of a job….this year at least, especially given he “only” makes 800,000.

  3. illcomm - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    stop hating on the Phils Craig. that’s all your doing. Pierre is a hard worker n well above avg hitter. especially when platooned. he is also 27-31 on steal attempts. aside from his defense, he is one heck of a player. stop hating n start reporting.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      So linking an article about how Juan Pierre works hard is “hating?” OK, dude.

      • Uncle Charlie - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        Yeah, that certainly was the main point of this post, Pierre’s work ethic.

      • ame123 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        That’s not what your article was about.

      • cur68 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        Chuck, ame: Craig doesn’t need me to ride to his rescue, but I think you guys might. Seriously, read that article again. It starts off with a decent tease line summed up thus: “how does that light hitting guy find work at this level”. Then Craig answers the question: ” Mostly because the guy works his butt off”. Finishes with a nice tag for a future piece on “guys that don’t work their butts off and have similar numbers probably don’t find work: discuss”. The article is the thinking man’s praise unto Peanut Head: eyes open edition. Surely you can see that?

      • 18thstreet - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:38 PM

        I was a huge Celtics fan growing up, and I remember reading that the Celtics kept this guy around specifically because no one practiced harder than he did: I think Bird had a line about him in his memoirs, that Fernsten would show up to practice and announce no one was scoring on him today.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      Just once, I’d like to see one of these idiots use an apostrophe correctly and use the correct form of you’re/your.

      Is there an internet meme that I missed wherein “your an idiot” is an inside joke and not a grammatical mistake?

      • chadjones27 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:43 PM

        I think the meme is called the public school system.

      • CJ - Aug 7, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        it’s either a case of stoopidity or entenchinal eyeronnie

      • moogro - Aug 7, 2012 at 6:04 PM

        WTF? You write this and make the same mistake three hours later.

        18thstreet – Aug 7, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        I would like to take this opportunity to mock the Phillies, since Craig seems to have forgotten to.

        Craig, your an idiot.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 8, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        I was making a joke on the other one.

  4. illcomm - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    ignore that comment Craig. the app I’m using cut off everything below the first paragraph. nice article.

    • approvenothing - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      Oh. Then do tell us, what did the rest of the post say?

  5. warpd - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Wow. Juan Pierre lays down bunts (seemingly serving no purpose what so ever) while his teammates who are actually good at playing baseball are in the clubhouse. Great article.

    • delawarephilliesfan - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM

      Have you watched him this year? He has been great at getting guys over with the bunt, as well as butning for singles. Infilders have to play in on him, and he has been slapping balls through. He ain’t hitting .313 by smoking balls to the outfield wall

    • Old Gator - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      He also goes out and lays down bunts – and rolls the ball up both baselines and into the infield with his hand – at every road stadium where his teams play. He tests the hardness, roughness, etc. of the infields that way so he has some idea of how his bunts are going to roll and what kind of running strategy he will have to employ, not only when he bunts but when his teammates hit balls on the ground behind him. The guy is a pro’s pro. I loved him when he played for the Feesh – he was indespensible to the 2003 championship – and have always enjoyed watching him whenever he’s visited Macondo with another team. I would have him on the Feesh any day of any week of any season over three quarters of the other guys who’ve taken up space at what might have been his position.

      • nes125 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        Yep…he absolutely killed the Yankees in ’03…..

        Great player….and still is…. :)

  6. delawarephilliesfan - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Juan Pierre has been great for the Phillies, he deserves priase this year.

    Did a helluva lot better then Bingo Long (aka Dontrelle Willis)

  7. thehypercritic - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    While veteran presence is much derided, and with good reason, there is tremendous value to having guys like this on the roster when not blocking superior players — showing younger players how to prepare, what being a professional player without the most talent takes and the like have value.

    Ideally you don’t strand the man on a team of aging vets like the Phillies, but on a team breaking in a lot of young players like the Royals he’d make a valuable and excellent bench player.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      Actually, you see him sitting with Dom Brown all the time…explaining the ins and outs of the game, etc.

      • thehypercritic - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:55 PM

        Which is great, but I believe you can count their position players under 30 on one hand (though helping Brown get back to where he was viewed 18 months ago would be worth the roster spot and every penny of his contract)

  8. dlf9 - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    I played HS ball under Steve Kittrell, who a few years later, became the University of South Alabama head coach (why don’t they call them managers in college?). I stayed vaugely in touch with my former coach and have, from time to time, asked him about some of the guys he coached. There have been some pretty decent players (like Jon Lieber, Luis Gonzales, Lance Johnson, David Freese, etc.) but constantly Coach K would talk about Pierre’s dedication, effort, and personality. Baseball-reference shows that over the years, he has earned almost $55m; it is good to hear that the money and limited fame haven’t apparently changed him.

  9. chc4 - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    It’s racism.

    • Old Gator - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      Yes. Juan Pierre has a race.

      • cur68 - Aug 7, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        When my daughter was three I told her that racism meant you ran a lot of foot races. She took this to mean that she was a racist and ran around the house being racial all the time. She’s entertain dinner guests with her accounts of her racial tendencies (she actually called them that, looking very serious and thumping her pudgy little fist for emphasis) how much more of a racist she was than pretty much all the kids at the play ground. It broke my heart when she finally found out what the word meant. I wish I was three.

  10. watermelon1 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Or… perhaps he keeps getting signed by teams because there are much worse players out there. In other words… he’s much better than quite a few players. He can do more than quite a few players who also have jobs in MLB.

    He might not be winning you a fantasy league, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong in the MLB. Oh, and he also isn’t asking for huge bloated contracts, either.

    • skeleteeth - Aug 7, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      No kidding. How many players that barely strike out more than they walk while averaging 140+ games per year and ~.300 @ the plate are looking for work?

  11. Chris K - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    I might be crazy but I could swear that there was an article written about Pierre like this a year or two ago talking about how Pierre showed up early to Spring Training and went through this routine but with ChiSox staff. Like…literally almost the same article. I also believe I found it because Craig had posted it then much like he had here today…

    Either writing about Pierre’s work ethic is incredibly overdone or I just have some sort of insane Deja Vu.

  12. dkphilly1122 - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Juan’s a nice extra OF and has a great work ethic. He’s definitely a veteran younger guys, like D Brown can look upto and learn the do’s and don’ts from like the guy said up further. I like Juan and the energy he brings when he’s on the bases, he’s a threat to steal everytime.

  13. lucassteele - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    I don’t think I would classify him as a below-averaged hitter. Since his days with the Dodgers, he’s still averaged close to .300.

  14. xmatt0926x - Aug 7, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    He’s been pretty good this year for a scrap heap pickup in spring training. He has above a .350 OBP, about 25 stolen bases in limited playing time. I agree that he probably gets opportunities that other much traveled players might not get due to his work ethic reputation, but he is actually producing pretty well this season. He’s obviously not going to bang out homers and drives into the gaps but he has 87 hits in 89 games and you understand what you get from him. In this day and age a .350 OBP from the leadoff spot is pretty good. The bunting is a great tool. I always hated when the other team had that kind of guy that could bunt and had speed. Are there really so many part time players that put up these numbers that Pierre would find it hard to get work if not for his reputation? I don’t see them.

  15. spudatx - Aug 8, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    He has a place on a 40-man roster as a situational hitter (to bunt) and run the bases even yet. People have bagged on Pierre for years, but he’s always been welcomed by MLB team for a reason – he performs consistently. He’s not great, but you can rely on him for specific skills.

  16. hisgirlgotburrelled - Aug 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    What i heard early in the year was that Pierre’s foot was bothering him all last year but was much better now. A lot of the knock on him before the season was his SB% being 61%, but he has only been caught 4 times this year. Considering his play this year I would not mind at all if they kept him around for next year… Since he doesn’t hit many HR’s he decided to single-handedly manufacture a run vs Strasburg last week: single to center, steal 2nd and 3rd on consecutive pitches, then jog home on the throwing error by the catcher to 3rd base.

  17. hushbrother - Aug 8, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    I heard he also spends fifteen hours a week, at least, on his rapping skills.

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