June 13, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Juan Pierre (10) hits a single in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
The Enquirer was militant today, which I kinda liked. "Two fists full of victories" was the headline, underneath a triumphal Dusty Baker. "Reds claim another scalp" was the sub-head. It all underscores a team that, from all appearances, isn't in any desperate straits to add a player.
The numbers mostly support that thinking. Regressing the Reds' record to their Pythag would still have them in 1st place in the Central. There's nothing too concerning with the pitching staff's peripherals. And, with four more games against the Padres, the team has a chance to pad its lead some more even before Joey Votto returns. 17 of the remaining 61 games are against the Cubs and Astros - teams on the schedule who, along with Brewers and Phillies, could get still worse in the next two days (or even after the non-waiver deadline).
The names that have been bubbling up most often in connection to the Reds are both Phillies: Victorino and Pierre. But the Reds now "appear to be zeroing in on Pierre" (via Jayson Stark). I haven't been this un-surprised by a deadline move since the Reds chose not to do anything earlier this month.
Pierre is having a decent season as a part-time player, having started 67 games (all in LF): he's gotten on base more than any active Red this side of Ryan Hanigan. He'd probably improve the team if added. He'll play a solid LF and steal at a decent success rate (this season, at least). If the Reds acquire him and don't give up more than a B-minus prospect, it's probably a positive.
Except that the Reds will likely have to pay (in prospects) for him as though he's starting lead-off hitter, not a 4th/5th OF. It's not clear that he fills a burning need on the team in that role. Pierre hasn't played CF regularly in almost 5 years. He hits righties for a little more power, but a little more contact than lefties over his career. Could he be trusted to leap over Heisey and Stubbs to make starts in CF?
His path to playing time isn't any more clear in LF, where Ryan Ludwick has been crushing moon shots and proving us all happily wrong. With his power stroke, Ludwick can outhit Pierre while playing pretty good defense. Then there's Todd Frazier, who absolutely needs to be worked into the lineup when Votto returns. If Rolen keeps hitting, he's going to keep starting, so LF is where you have to get the Toddfather some looks.
Juan Pierre is definitely an upgrade over Miguel Cairo, but that's not really whose role he'd be assuming. He's probably an upgrade over Chris Heisey or Xavier Paul, though Paul has continued to tear it up in the majors as he has all season at AAA.
If this is the only kind of move that's either available to the Reds or that they have the appetite for, they should keep their trading pants in the closet.