When I was struggling with the practice of law in my first year out of law school and was considering going into sports journalism, one of the factors that made me stay with the law was realizing that newspaper columnists essentially have tenure like college professors. There are rarely any openings for columnists in major newspapers because it's impossible to get rid of a columnist, no matter how illogical or idiotic his columns are. (Impossible probably isn't the right word. Unlikely might be a better way to describe the possibility of firing a columnist.)
To illustrate this conclusion, Terence Moore offers yet another entry in his pantheon of bad ideas. With the Braves likely to lose Rafael Furcal, Moore has come up with the brilliant idea that the team should liberate Juan Pierre from the burning, listing-to-starboard hulk that is the Miami, Florida baseball franchise. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, here's why that's a terrible idea:
1. The Braves have a centerfielder. You may have heard of him. Moving Pierre to left is a New York Mets-type move, paying a premium for two centerfielders (it's one of the most expensive positions to fill in baseball because there are so few players that can play it defensively and still hit) and only playing one of them out there. Pierre has a career .730 OPS. That's fine in centerfield, but it's significantly below average in leftfield. It is lower than the OPS of either Kelly Johnson (.731) or Ryan Langerhans (.774), the Braves' proposed platoon for left field this year. In other words, Pierre would be an offensive step back for the Braves. Pierre does steal bases, but his career stolen base percentage is 73.6%, and as numerous analysts have shown, a player needs to steal at a clip of 75% or greater for the endeavor to be worthwhile. Also, Pierre turns 29 this season; anyone want to wager on whether he'll get faster or slower as he ages? I suppose that if the Braves got Pierre for next-to-nothing, it wouldn't be the worst deal in the world, but if they gave up anything useful (other than one of the leftfielders who will be relegated to the bench with Pierre's arrival,) then it would be a bad deal.
2. How on earth does a claim like this get past a fact-checker:
"In fact, it was Pierre's considerable energy that did the most to propel the Florida Marlins to a world championship for the 2003 season."
Gee, it couldn't have been Josh Beckett throwing 42 and 2/3rds innings that postseason at a 2.11 ERA, culminating in a complete game shutout to win the World Series. Or Carl Pavano throwing 19 and 1/3rd innings at a 1.40 ERA. Or Ivan Rodriguez's .910 OPS and 17 RBI. No, it must have been Pierre's "grit." (In Moore's defense, I didn't realize that Pierre had a .481 on-base percentage in the World Series and a .378 on-base percentage for that post-season, but remember what the sample size is there.)
3. Or how about this gem:
"[Pierre is] the ultimate winner."
Which naturally explains why he's been to the post-season once in six major league seasons and last year was one of the anchors around the neck of the most disappointing team in baseball by leading the team in at-bats and contributing a lowly .326 on-base percentage.
4. And then there's this:
"Mostly, since the Braves are traditionally a finesse team, they need as much grit as they can get, and Pierre is the grittiest player in the game."
What the hell does that sentence mean? What does Pierre have in terms of grit that Chipper or Andruw or Giles or Smoltz or Hudson don't? Does he have magic grits? Did he get his grits from the same guy who sold Jack his magic beans?
How does a human being get paid for writing this tripe?