Friday, May 27, 2011

More on Juan Pierre

Last time out, I wrote about Juan Pierre (among others) in a review of slow starting players. Since I traded Pierre in my A.L.-only home league on Sunday, he has stolen two bases. My trading partner in that deal wants to know if I'm vexed.

The answer is I am not. If Pierre steals 46 bases the rest of the season (which would match his 68 SB from last year), I'll deal with the fact that I made a bad trade.

While there is some value at looking at the results of a trade at the end of the season, you have to remember why you made the trade in the first place. Below is a broad outline of my thought process.

1) Pierre wasn't running.
My trading partner pointed out to me - after our trade, of course - that Pierre got off to an even worse start in 2010. This is true in terms of Pierre's OPS, but not in terms of his SB/CS. 

Pierre April 2010: .193 BA, .453 OPS, 9 SB/3 CS.
Pierre April 2011: .243 BA, .556 OPS, 5 SB/7 CS.

Before this week, Pierre went three weeks without even attempting to steal a base. If Pierre was going to run less, I wanted no part of him.

2) Pierre's not running was impacting my entire team.
My strategy going into this year was to hope that Pierre and Brett Gardner stole 100-110 bases and that the rest of my team would pick up enough odd steals so that I'd finish at the top of the category. Pierre and Gardner's slow starts put me into a position where I had to either try and acquire a steals guy or hope for a sudden burst of speed from Pierre/Gardner. There was a third option, though...

3) Optimize my categories.
The larger problem for my team was that I was weak not in one category but four. Average, steals, wins and saves are all categories where I was either suffering or had limited room for upside. Dumping categories isn't my preferable way to play, but dumping two or half of two categories could be a winning formula. Dumping four - or part of four - categories was a loser.

Once I had made the combined decisions to bail on Pierre and try to add wins, saves, or batting average, I had to find a trade partner. The idea wasn't to simply waive Pierre or give him away for nothing but to get something of value back.

4) The trade I made
In the end, I flipped Pierre for Edwin Jackson. Jackson has had an erratic start, but in his last 26 innings has a 2.08 ERA and 20 strikeouts. His overall ERA is 4.26 but he's 19th in the American League with a 3.41 FIP. I'm not going to sit here and try to put a big smiley face on trading Pierre for Jackson given how I felt about Pierre in April, but given how Pierre had been doing now, I was glad to get a mid-tier starting pitcher in an effort to bolster my wins.

Is it possible that I'm going to lose on the Pierre trade? It's quite possible. If Pierre steals 35 bases the rest of the way (as opposed to the less optimistic 46 mentioned above) that would be worth $14 in last year's A.L.-only, 4x4 formula. Using a rough back-of-the-napkin calculation, this means that Jackson will have to put up a $20 season the rest of the way to match Pierre. If Pierre runs, I most likely lose out on value.

But I don't mind. I decided Pierre was finished, looked at the categories where I had the most to gain, and took the plunge. If I made a mistake, I have all winter to regret it.


zucchiniboy said...

Hey guys,

Question: When is it time to stop chasing saves? I'm in an NL-only 12-team, second to last in saves while playing the closer merry-go-round game in St. Louis and LA. I've had Franklin, Boggs, Padilla, and Guerrier, none of which have yielded much so far. With a third of a season gone, is it time to stop chasing relievers in the hopes that they become closer and start focusing specifically on the best pitchers available to go for other stats like wins and strikeouts?


Toz said...

I smell a post from Mike on this, but I'll give you my short answer. Chasing saves is a difficult game to play, as you have found out. It is okay to chase saves so long as you do not blow your FAAB budget on it and so long as you are not wasting a roster spot. For example, if there is a decent starter with a decent matchup, and you need wins and strikeouts, it might be better to make that play in general.

D. Scott Campbell said...

Mike, you inspired me to really delve into the Juan Pierre question. I've been suffering with him in my AL-only $ league, but I had a totally different take on JP. Here's what I wrote a few days ago after you made your trade: Basically, I'm holding, or even buying low!