Clock is ticking for Andre Ethier in Los Angeles


Andre Ethier grilling hot dogs.
Andre Ethier has had more success manning the Dodger Dog grill than he has at the plate this season. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

It’s all over the Internet, no matter where you search. No, I’m not talking about Lolo Jones complaining about her paltry bobsledding paycheck. I’m also not referencing Sofia Vergara sporting a thong bikini at the ripe age of 40 (40 never looked so good, by the way!).

Go ahead and open Google, the best browser known to mankind. (The words “Bing” and the “Los Angeles Angels” are not allowed to be spoken in my home!) Once you have Google up, type “Andre Ethier trade” and sit back and look at all the gossip.

Andre Ethier has worn out his welcome in Los Angeles like a barbed-wire tattoo around the bicep of an 80-year-old man. It’s almost becoming less a question of if Andre Ethier will be traded and more of when he will be dealt.

Andre Ethier has been on not-so-solid ground the past two seasons with the Dodgers, but his passport to New York, Boston, Kansas City, Seattle or Pittsburgh was punched when Puigmania hit Los Angeles.

Dodger fans have watched Ethier look less like the $85 million man they hoped he was and more like the ungrateful 30-something who is prone to injuries and whining. The man who just four seasons ago had more walk-off hits than anyone else in baseball has turned into an overpaid, weak-hitting pariah.

Why will the Dodgers trade a guy who was one of their cornerstone players until last season? Let me count the reasons:

  • Ethier’s offensive stats have declined in most categories over the past three seasons.
  • Ethier has been injury-prone over the past three seasons.
  • Ethier has lost respect from manager Don Mattingly and GM Ned Colletti.
  • The arrival and early dominance of Yasiel Puig.

Why might the Dodgers end up keeping Andre Ethier this season, despite his struggles?

  • The first three bullets above. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that other teams have noticed the turmoil that has surrounded Ethier the past three seasons in Los Angeles. Andre Ethier is damaged goods, plain and simple.
  • His putrid contract.
  • The Dodgers’ propensity to have players fall by the injury wayside like summer insects in a bug zapper.

The starting outfield for the Dodgers this season was first comprised of Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Crawford and Kemp have spent considerable time on the disabled list this year, and have been replaced by Scott Van Slyke, Skip Schumaker , Puig and Alex Castellanos. Now Van Slyke is on the DL, so trading Ethier might just cause more trouble if there are any other significant injuries the rest of the season.

It’s safe to say that Andre Ethier will never be invited to Mattingly’s house for Saturday night Uno games or for Thanksgiving dinner.

Mattingly questioned Ethier and his tender knee in 2011. More recently, Mattingly benched Ethier in favor of the rookie Van Slyke because the manager questioned Ethier’s toughness and desire. When your boss doesn’t think you work hard enough, it might be time to tap into your LinkedIn network.

This season, the 31-year-old Ethier has been abysmal. In 65 games, the right fielder has hit five homers and driven in 20 runs with a .249 average. Compare that to the 22-year-old sensation Puig, who has four homers and 10 RBIs and a .479 average in only 13 games.

No one is naïve enough to think that Puig will continue to post these shocking offensive numbers. However, Puig has electrified the city of Los Angeles in a way that Ethier hasn’t done since his walk-off heroics in 2009. When Puig comes to the plate, fans expect him to come up big. With Ethier, you expect him to fail, and if you get anything else, it’s a bonus.

If the Dodgers trade Andre Ethier, where might he land? The hottest rumors have come out of New York. The Mets and Yankees both have a need for outfield help. Right now, the Mets are starting Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center field. Nieuwenhuis is hitting .114 with one homer and four RBIs.

The Yankees are starting 39-year-old Ichiro Suzuki in right field. Ichiro is sporting a .265 average, with two homers and 11 RBIs. Ethier would be an upgrade to either of those players the New York teams are trotting out.

Ethier has also been linked to the Seattle Mariners. Seattle has Michael Saunders starting in center field, complete with a .203 average, four homers and 14 RBIs. The Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Red Sox have also been mentioned in connection with Ethier rumors.

There is no doubt that if the Dodgers officially make Andre Ethier available, there will be interest. It isn’t known yet where Ethier might land if he is dealt, but one thing is certain: The Dodgers will have to pony up a heap of money just to unload him.

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