Not Bad, Kenny Williams, Not Bad

The White Sox sent two prospects to the Dodgers today for the rights to Juan Pierre. While defending the acquisition of Juan Pierre may seem odd, depending on whom the White Sox sent to the Dodgers, this isn’t a bad deal for the ChiSox at all. They only have to pay Pierre $8 million over the next two years ($3 million in 2010, $5 million in 2011). Even if Pierre only comes in at around 1.5-2 WAR, that’s not that bad for a guy only making $3 million.

The big questions are going to be a) how Pierre adjusts to the American League and b) how he plays defensively. Bill James has Pierre on track for a .310 wOBA next year, with a wRC+ of 87. That’s pretty on the low side for a guy who just had a .338 wOBA this year. Pierre will find the pitching much easier in the AL Central versus the NL West, and although his BABIP was high (.331) this year, that isn’t surprising from a guy who hit 24.2% of his batted balls for line drives and had the second highest speed score of his career.

On to defense, things get a little bit tricky. Pierre is most likely going to be asked to play centerfield for Chicago in 2010. While Pierre excelled in left field this year according to UZR, he was below average in 2008, and has been generally inconsistent in center field in the last few years. However, if Pierre can post a UZR within 1 run of zero this year, his positional adjustment should give him a solid boost in value.

Again, a lot of this deal depends on whom the pitchers going to Los Angeles are, but I don’t think Kenny Williams faired all that poorly in this deal. If Pierre can put up a .325 wOBA and play some good defense in center field, along with providing good speed on the basepaths and maintaining his usual level of games played, then he’ll certainly be worth the $3 million given to him next year, and probably even more than that.

UPDATE: FoxSport’s Jon Morosi has tweeted that the prospects going to LA could be pitchers John Ely and Jon Link. If that’s the case, then it’s definitely good news for Chicago fans. In his ranking of the White Sox farm system last week, John Sickels had Ely as the 14th best prospect in the system (Grade: C) and Link didn’t even make the Top 20 (also a Grade:C).

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  1. hawk said...

    Juan won’t be playing much CF for the Sox. Rios is going to play CF while Quentin moves to RF. Pencil Pierre in at LF and occasionally DH.

  2. ChuckR said...

    Equally important to my Sox fan eyes is the fact that this should mean no more Scott Podsednik.  Not that he didn’t have his uses last year, but I think expecting anything out of the 2010 model would be delusional.

  3. Jeremy said...

    Please explain how paying $8 million over two years and giving up two prospects is better than just resigning Podsednik? The two seem to be virtual equals.

    I’d rather have the cheaper version.

  4. Pat Andriola said...


    Very true. Before this year, Podsednik had 3 consecutive years of negative WAR. I am actually entirely confused why Bill James like Podsednik for .04 more wOBA next year than Pierre. Pods had a 17.6 LD% and a .342 BABIP.

  5. Jeremy said...

    The odds are also low that Pierre will replicate his 2009 season. Pierre isn’t that great of a fielder either plus the baserunning numbers posted here before had Pods as a much better baserunner.

    It doesn’t seem like that great of a deal to pay $8 million over two years plus two prospects for Pierre when you can have Pods cheaply.

    Pierre can’t really be worth that much more?

  6. MikeS said...

    OK, so he’ll hit leadoff and hopefully be better than Pods in the field.

    The keys to the White Sox season are still Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin. The rotation looks giood and the bullpen is likely to be good enough.  Even the defense looks a little better.  But if Rios duplicates his 199/229/301 disaster and Quentin gets hurt again then they won’t have enough offense.  The other bats (Konerko, Beckham, Ramirez, Teahan, Kotsay, Jones, Pierzynski) are a group of developing young guys, declining old guys and bench guys with various levels of upside.  I don’t think that group can carry an offense but if you’ve got a couple of guys who do hit really well then the complimentary parts look alot better.

  7. Calima said...

    Rios and Quentin were two of the unluckiest batters in baseball last year (compare their BABIP vs. their xBABIP) and are excellent candidates to rebound.  And yes, Rios is the offical CF of the Chicago WS, not Pierre.  Pierre rates as an above avg. LF, he’ll be fine there.

  8. Civilwarmike said...

    Having seen both Scotty Pods and Juan Pierre play a number of games in Chicago, Pierre offers much more to the Sox than Pods ever did or will.

    Pods just may be the worst base runner in the game. He personifies dumb on the bases, getting picked off at the most inopportune times, particularly at second and third base. Yes, he came up with several big hits for the Sox last year. He is also capable of running into several huge outs for the opposition.

    Pods also may give Alfonso Soriano a run as one of the worst outfielders in the game. Every fly ball is an adventure. Putting this guy in center is almost guaranteeing the opposition a free run per game.

    And Mark Buerhle’s perfecto? Didn’t happen if Pods had been patrolling centerfield in the ninth inning.

    Finally, Pods just can’t stay healthy.

    Pierre, among the top bunters in the game, offers the Sox a nice option on the basepaths and in the outfield where he can spell Alex Rios in center.

    No, he is a perfect player nor the best lead-off hitter in the game. Does he make the White Sox better?

    I beleive he does. And that is the whole key. For $8 million over two years? Kenny Williams did well.

  9. kevin said...

    The analysis misses the real point. To field a truly good team, you don’t want either Podsednik or Pierre. So whether you get either guy at a “bargain” price or not, you’re not moving forward, especially given that they are both on the downsides of their mediocre careers.

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