Juan Pierre has been one of the Phillies' consistent hitters this year. His .312 batting average is second on the club and he has stolen 27 bases. For a contending club, he would be a nice piece the team can use at the top of the order. However, the Phillies should let him go.
This is not a knock on Juan Pierre, but last night's game is proof that the Phillies need to change this new dynamic on their roster. Facing left-handed Ross Detwiler the Phillies typically would have played an outfield of John Mayberry, Shane Victorino, and Hunter Pence, giving them three right-handed hitters. Instead, Manuel felt he had to put Michael Martinez in center field simply because he is a switch-hitter who can hit right-handed.
Now? The Phillies' roster gives them fewer options:
The Phillies replaced right-handed Hunter Pence and switch-hitting Shane Victorino with lefties Nate Schierholtz and Domonic Brown. There is just no balance.
So how would Charlie fill out his lineup card against a right-handed pitcher? We saw that Wednesday when the outfield was Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Nate Schierholtz. So if the outfield against righties does not include Pierre and the outfield against lefties does not include Juan Pierre, what exactly is the plan to use him?
It's pretty clear that left field belongs to Domonic Brown the rest of the way. John Mayberry has to play every day too, for no other reason than he is the only right-handed outfielder they have. In right field, Schierholtz should get all the starts against righties as we look to see if he would make a formidable plattoon n 2013.
Pierre is not signed for 2013, and teams in the past were interested in him, perhaps the Cincinnati Reds. If the Phillies released him so he was free to sign to a contender, that could be a sign of respect for a veteran that has put together a solid season. So, let him go.
Of course, the Phillies would need to replace him in the outfield somehow. Looking at AAA Lehigh Valley, the picture is the same: the starting outfield is left-handed Kyle Hudson in center, left-handed Jason Pridie in right, and left-handed Pete Orr in left. We would have to look to AA Reading to find Jiwan James, a switch-hitting centerfielder. James has only hit .254 this year.
Going foward, I would keep Brown fixed in right, Mayberry fixed in center, and use a Nate Schierholtz/Ty Wigginton plattoon in right. Wigginton played 27 games in the outfield last season for the Rockies, and for some reason Manuel has not realized that Wigginton can play outfield, too. This would let the Phillies come to final conclusions about whether or not Mayberry and Brown are major league outfielders, and can give right field the balance it needs.
Sorry, Juan Pierre, we appreciate your batting average and stolen bases, but you just don't fit here anymore.