Just when you thought it was safe to browse your favorite sports website or watch ESPN without hearing about the Los Angeles Dodgers, it isn’t!
Hot on the heels of the Dodgers making offseason news by signing the best pitcher on the free-agent market in Zack Greinke, they are back in the baseball news again.
MLB Trade Rumors and CBS Sports.com reported on Dec. 18 that the Dodgers are open to trading right fielder Andre Ethier. What in the name of Vin Scully’s golden pipes are the Dodgers thinking?
GM Ned Colletti would just as soon be seen out in public without his tailor-made toupee than trade the guy who is the feather in his L.A. cap after stealing Ethier from the Oakland A’s for Milton Bradley in 2005, right?
Why would the Dodgers even consider trading a player who has averaged 18 homers and 76 RBIs a year for them over the past seven years? Why would they entertain thoughts of trading a guy who they just signed to an $85 million extension just six months ago?
Here are some of the possible reasons why the Dodgers might think about trading Ethier:
• Ethier is injury-prone – Ethier spent time on the disabled list last season due to an oblique injury. In 2011, he missed 27 games due to a knee injury. Ethier spent more DL time in 2010 with knee and ankle injuries (missing 25 games). There were even rumors in 2011 that Ethier’s knee injury might not have been as bad as he claimed.
• The Dodgers need a leadoff hitter – Well, I’d better correct that last line to this: “The Dodgers need a leadoff hitter who knows he is a leadoff hitter and who doesn’t swing at everything that’s remotely close to the plate (cough, cough … Dee Gordon … cough, cough). Last season, the Dodgers were 18th in MLB in on-base percentage. They were 26th in runs scored. Gordon, who is as fast as a gazelle, unfortunately hits like a gazelle too. Gordon struck out an average of once every five trips to the plate last season, which isn’t good for a leadoff man.
• Matt Kemp is better suited for right field – Kemp is one of the best players in all of baseball. He is a five-tool guy who can do everything. However, Kemp is going to cut his career a few years shorter if he keeps putting his body through the rigors of playing the demanding position of center field. Ethier plays right field, so if the Dodgers trade him, guess what position suddenly opens up for Kemp? You got it, you rocket scientist, you – right field!
Okay, so have I convinced you that trading Ethier might not be the worst thing in the world for the Dodgers? You might be thinking that by trading Ethier and scooting Kemp over to right, the Dodgers will just be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Not necessarily, once again.
If the Dodgers trade Ethier, they will need a center fielder. They also need a leadoff hitter, remember? (Just scroll up a few paragraphs to refresh your memory!)
I know someone who knows someone who is considering trading their leadoff guy who just so happens to play center field. If that’s not a match made in eHarmony heaven, I don’t know what is!
The Boston Red Sox have reportedly been shopping center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury only played 74 games due to shoulder injury last season, but in three full seasons prior to that, he averaged 53 stolen bases, 71 RBIs and a .351 on-base percentage. Could the Dodgers and Red Sox pull off another crafty trade?
Ethier is obviously still a valuable part of the Dodgers right now. If they open camp in a few months with him still in right field, that won’t be a bad thing. But it also might not be a bad thing if Kemp gets to watch Ellsbury track down fly balls at the warning track in Chavez Ravine’s expansive center field from his comfy right-field perch.