Cub fans were disappointed when Felix Pie was recently sent back down to the minors. The concensus was that the best fielding outfielder on the roster just couldn’t hit well enough to justify a spot in the starting lineup, so they sent him down to make sure that he played every day. And it’s hard to argue with that logic - he really wasn’t producing at a major league level.
But I can’t help but remember that last season the organization refused to call Pie up for seasoning in September. Could 100 ABs at the major league level last year have helped ease Pie into a regular spot this year? We’ll never know.
At the time, Dusty referred to the fact that Pie hadn’t done well the first half, and mumbled something about how youngsters have to prove themselves over time. You can’t call up just anybody just because they had a good couple of weeks. I don’t remember Hendry saying anything quotable.
Like many others I interpreted the situation to mean that Dusty had dug in his heels and had declared that no matter who was brought up he was going to give Juan Pierre a chance to play 162 games for the 4th consecutive season. Pierre was a “proven veteran” with a chance to reach 200 hits for the season and Baker “owed” it to him to give him a shot at it. The youngster could wait.
BUT ... by then Hendry had to have known he wasn’t renewing Dusty’s contract, and probably knew as well that Pierre wasn’t going to be invited back either - why indulge them by keeping Pie on the farm? For lack of any better theory, i just assumed that Hendry had decided not to rock the bock - he was basically letting Baker run out the clock and didn’t see a need to start a fight during “garbage time.” So he let Pierre continue his extended audition for a new team in 2007.
But as the draft approaches, I wonder if Hendry didn’t outsmart all of of us. Like most of Cubdom, several months ago I was shocked to find out that Pierre had amassed enough statistics to qualify as a Type B Free Agent. I now wonder how close Pierre was to the cut-off on September 1? Is it possible that if Dusty had done the “right thing,” sitting Juan and playing Felix, that Pierre wouldn’t have qualified as a Type B?
Maybe, just maybe, Hendry is crazy like a fox, and decided that 100 ABs for Pie was a reasonable trade for the 48th pick in this year’s draft. Maybe. And if so, maybe he was right.