It's been one of the more fascinating battles to watch down in Clearwater this spring. Two veterans with similar "games" battling it out for a place on the 2012 roster.
Juan Pierre vs Scott Podsednik
Most fans probably think without looking at the numbers that Juan Pierre is the choice here. But Podsednik is having the better spring. Pods, who just turned 36, is hitting .362 and just hit a game- winning home run on Tuesday. He's also stolen five bags without being caught. Pierre, who is 34, is hitting .289 and in those same five stolen base attempts as Podsednik...has been caught three times.
Pierre was always a Phillies killer. His pesky at-bats while a member of the Florida Marlins from 2003-2005 and then with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2007-2009 were memorable. He's been extremely durable playing in every single game from 2003-2007 and just missing six games combined the last two season in Chicago playing for the White Sox.
Pierre is showing signs of wearing down though. Last season, Pierre only stole 27 bases in 44 attempts. That's a terrible 61 percent success rate. Pierre has never been a "Jimmy Rollins" type of having a high success rate when it comes to stolen bases. Seven times he led the league in being caught stealing but he was stealing 45-65 bags during those seasons so it was okay. Last season wasn't the case.
The basic knock on Podsednik is that he didn't play in the Major Leagues last season. He hasn't been very durable either. Since playing in 154 games in 2004, Podsednik has played in 129(05), 139(06), 62(07), 93(08), 132(09), 134(10), 0(11) big league games. 2010 was a pretty good season when he split time between the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers. In 539 at-bats that season, Pods hit .297 with 35 stolen bases while being caught 15 times. That's a 70 percent success ratio which is better than Pierre's but still lacking.
Also, Podsednik has seen the majority of his success in the American League. In 576 career AL games, Podsednik has a .284 average. In the NL, Pods has played in 440 games and carries a .272 average. It's the opposite for Pierre who has a lifetime .301 average in the NL and a .277 average in the AL.
The key here might be contract driven. Pierre must be on the Major League roster Friday or be granted his release. Podsednik doesn't have that option and the Phillies can start him off in AAA as insurance to an injury.
At this point, there is no doubt Podsednik has outperformed Pierre this spring, but the Phillies are an aging group and injuries will happen. By placing Pierre on the Major League roster May 30th, not only do they get to keep him, they can stash Podsednik in AAA in case of an injury. Everyone knows the Phillies are a veteran team and what happens to aging teams? They experience injuries.
There is a chance in the not so distant future that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel pencils in a lineup that features both Pierre and Podsednik. However, for the betterment of the organization, the right call at this time is to keep Pierre and demote Podsednik...even with Podsednik out playing Pierre this spring.