The possibility of Juan Pierre becoming a member of the Chicago Cubs has been at the forefront of my mind ever since I read that report on Miami Herald.com. Could Jim Hendry actually pull this off? Would this be the off-season coup that would push the team to the top of the National League? Is this another example of the rich stealing from the poor? Look what happened in 2003, Derrek Lee for Hee-Seop Choi, what a trade and the Marlins were the team that instigated the whole thing. Choi was then traded for Paul Lo Duca who is now on the trading block as well. Where will Corey Patterson end up? The report says a multi-team trade. I really think Juan Pierre could be very successful playing centerfield for the Chicago Cubs.
Juan Pierre is a very exciting, young player (just turned 28 in August) with a great work ethic and tremendous talent. One of the lasting images I have of Pierre was at the end of the 2003 NLCS. They panned to Pierre skipping in from his position in centerfield to be with his teammates. At the time it made me sick, but that image is what a ballplayer is supposed to look like when he (and his team) is on the way to the World Series.
Whenever the Cubs would play the Marlins, the first person the Cubs had to worry about was Juan Pierre. Even this year against Maddux, he turned a hit batsman, into a run without the Marlins recording a base hit. That is what a good lead off hitter will do for a team. Manufacture a run….out of nothing. Pierre would provide the Cubs with a proven leadoff hitter.
Pierre has played all 162 games his last three seasons in Florida and is arbitration eligible for the 2006 season. He is expected to command a $5 million dollar salary next year and that is the reason the Marlins want to move him (and his contract). The Cubs can afford that and should be more than willing to pay that for a player of Pierre’s caliber. Juan has a career .305 average with an OBP of .374. His stats did drop last year, but all of them are better than any other option the Cubs have (.276/ .326 OBP/ .354 SLG/ 181 hits/ 41 walks/ 57 stolen bases and 45 strikeouts). If they can pay $2.5 million for Neifi Perez, then the $5 million for Pierre….well….should not be a problem.
Another plus about Pierre is he and Derrek Lee were teammates in Florida (2003) and with the fact that DLee wants to win; surely he would not let Hendry trade for anyone but a team player. I can only imagine a line up that could include Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal….what a one two punch in front of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. The number 9 is available.
Juan Pierre is a winner and maybe he could help bring a winner to the Northside of Chicago.