The Phillies hope Juan Pierre has enough tools remaining from his Florida Marlins glory days to contribute meaningfully to the cause.
Beerleaguer: By now, you've probably read the Phillies announced the purchase of Pierre's Major League contract, worth a guaranteed $800K with incentives. In all likelihood, it's curtains for spring overachiever Scott Podsednik in terms of his chances of making the Opening Day roster. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has reportedly not ruled out Podsednik for the final bench spot, but keeping two lefty hitting outfielders with largely identical skill sets would be unorthodox to say the least. So at the end of the day, Pierre will be a Phillie, just as most of us anticipated before all this started, while Podsednik, who does not have an opt out clause, appears to be ready depth. Podsednik's minor role is no small potatoes with a lineup this prone to injury.
That said, it's the Marlins mystique kicking in with Pierre. He was chosen as the best fit for Charlie Manuel's new - and very scary - small-ball initiative. The Phils will tell you that Podsednik is a better bet to line a double to the gap, while Pierre has a better shot to lay down a bunt or lay a soft single over the infield. Manuel hears his team needs a "better approach" and that translates, in his mind, to injecting more banjo hitters with guile. That's Pierre in a nutshell. We'll see how it works, but I can tell you for the last two seasons, the White Sox weren't thrilled.
Here's the bottom line though: Pick Pierre. Pick Podsednik. At the end of the day, it's a marginal difference. Opposing scouts see either one setting the table for the likes of Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton, while reading how much Manuel has been impressed by Hector Luna this spring, and they'd swear they're observing the Pirates.
* The big debate among scouts ... according to Jayson Stark, interviewed on 97.5 ESPN Radio Thursday, is whether the Phillies will be able to finish second in the National League East.