One Year of Andre Ethier

ethier_2013-06-01One year ago yesterday, Andre Ethier signed his five-year extension, guaranteeing him $85 million with an easily-attainable option for a sixth that would push the total value over $100 million.

Over the last 365 days since signing that deal, Ethier is hitting .263/.340/.401 with 15 homers in 603 plate appearances, giving him only a .322 wOBA. Unlike Matt Kemp, who also has had a pretty lousy calendar year, Ethier doesn’t have a particularly serious injury to point to as a reason. He’s just been, well… mediocre.

You want to know who is right ahead of him on the wOBA list over that year? You don’t, but I’m going to tell you anyway. There’s Cody Ross, who signed with Arizona for 3/$26m. There’s David DeJesus, who signed with the Cubs for 2/$10m. There’s Ike Davis, who is now in the minor leagues. (Mercifully, Ethier is just barely ahead of Josh Hamilton.) He’s been called out by his manager, and we’re to the point where we’re seeing comps between Ethier and Vernon Wells, and while I think that’s more than a little unfair, you can at least see the argument.

So… how’s that deal working out over the first year?

In retrospect, I probably should have just stated my initial opinion and been done with it, because back in February of 2012, I actually had nailed the terms he’d eventually get. At the time, the thought of such a deal was terrifying:

there’s a big difference between a deal for, say, 3/$36m (which I’d certainly love to do) and something more like 5/$85m (which I’d run away screaming from)

I determined his closest free agent comparable to be Jason Bay, and that should have probably been enough to just shut down the entire thing right there. But in the interest of full disclosure, by the time Ethier actually signed in June, I had softened on the idea, calling it a defensible move that was “market value or something close to it”.

That’s probably true, but looking back, I may have let the off-the-field aspects of the deal cloud the baseball value of it more than I should have. Remember, this was the first big signing under new ownership. No one had ever even heard the name “Yasiel Puig“ at that point. Hanley Ramirez was still in Miami, Zack Greinke was in Milwaukee, Brandon League was in Seattle, and the idea of actually getting Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford seemed like a laughable fantasy at best. Hamilton looked like the only impact bat available on the upcoming open market, and I doubt any of us wish the Dodgers had ended up inking that deal.

There were definitely some reasons to think this made sense, particularly with Ethier’s popularity and the new owners looking to gin up some good in-season feelings, and so we may have slightly let that desperate attempt for positive vibes after years of McCourt nightmares allow us to to be influenced somewhat.

So while I’ve long wanted the flawed Ethier to be traded while his value was highest — I’ve probably said so for about three years now — I can’t in good conscience look back and say that this deal was a terrible idea from the moment it was signed. (It wasn’t just us, either; this review of the deal from Dave Cameron at FanGraphs decided that while it was an overpay, “this just isn’t something that anyone should get all that worked up over.”) It was certainly not a team-friendly deal, but considering the other options available and deep pockets of new ownership, it didn’t seem like an anchor, either.

But I will say that I never saw it working out quite like this, either. We all know the Dodgers tried to trade Ethier over the winter, and when that didn’t work, we figured he’d at least be a slightly above-average lineup piece while we waited to see what would happen with Crawford, Puig, and Kemp. If we had the usual Ethier, the deal still wouldn’t have been great value, but we’d probably have been okay with it.

We don’t have the usual Ethier though, do we? While there’s some amount of bad batted ball luck at play, since his peripherals aren’t all that far off his career norms, the last few years really do look like the work of a man who has seen his peak and is on the other side of it as he enters his 30s. Throw in his questionable defense, total inability to hit lefty pitching, reports that he’s not exactly the most popular guy in the clubhouse, and the Mattingly benching, and you’re left with someone who isn’t exactly at the peak of his trade value.

And I do think he’ll be traded, by the way, especially now that Crawford has shown some life and Puig’s talent is for real. But I don’t think it will be soon — how can it be, with everyone else injured and Scott Van Slyke actually getting regular playing time before he was hurt — and I don’t think it will be for a return that the casual fan will be pleased with. One popular idea that gets thrown around a lot is Ethier for Ian Kinsler, since the Rangers in theory need an outfielder and have too many infielders with the emergence of Jurickson Profar. I’d do that in half a heartbeat… but there’s little reason to think the Rangers ever would.

No, when Ethier gets traded, it’s going to be in a deal that has the Dodgers eating at least half of his salary and getting some decent-but-hardly premium talent in return. Considering how integral to the future Ethier once was, it’s sad to think about like that, but it’s also almost assuredly true.

So much can change in the space of a year, can’t it?

848 comments
West Coast Ram
West Coast Ram

After reading the article I guess I don't see why a position has not been put forth that Ethier should be moved into a 4th outfielder role instead of being traded.  It may be an expensive 4th outfielder and he my not like it but the easy rebuttal is "play better".  I don't think any team should sell low and that would be exactly what the Dodgers would be doing at this point.  Make him play himself into a better situation, don't reward his crappy play with the opportunity to move to another team.  Puig is a relatively cheap replacement and something needs to light a fire under Andre's ass. 

TrolleyDodger
TrolleyDodger

Eithier is what he is. A streaky head case who never will hit lefties consistently. He plays decent defense and would make a good fourth outfielder and pinch hitter off the bench. Puig needs to play everyday but if you noticed, when Arizona came in on his hands he had trouble. So lets not make him a superstar just yet. He'll need to adjust the way all hitters adjust and he can expect pitchers to keep busting him inside until he does. Who knows, maybe Kemp will notice how Puig handles that low and away slider and take the hint. Hey, it could happen.

ih8turteam
ih8turteam

WHAT!!!!!! Ethier doesn't get suspended! He deserves at least 2 games for his horrendous play!

TheConman
TheConman

Suspensions: 

#DBacks’ Kennedy 10 games, Hinske 5, Gibson 1. 

#Dodgers’ Howell, Schumaker, McGwire, 2 games; Belisario, Mattingly 1.

Fines:

#DBacks Parra, Montero

#Dodgers Dodgers as a team(for Beckett and Capuano), Greinke, Puig

plus everybody that got suspended also gets a fine. All fines are undisclosed amounts

ih8turteam
ih8turteam

It's obvious that someone was looking out for the Dodgers (Torre). 

JackedNate
JackedNate

Once again Mike fills our heads with LIES! 


"I guarantee we wont see Puig for the next 5 games" - Mike Petriello

SCOREBOARD

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

Don Mattingly suspended 1 game?

Now we get to really see if replacement level manager would bring Paco in with 2 outs and men on 1st and 2nd with Montero batting, or if he would leave the righty making his ML debut.

JackedNate
JackedNate

Stoked that Puig isn't suspended.

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

McGwire not suspended. MLB didn't want to fuck with him.

Goodski
Goodski

Why couldn't they have suspended league? He allowed all of those balls to get hit


TheConman
TheConman

What did Hinske do? Is he the one that hit Cruz which made Puig rage?


Batted Bob
Batted Bob

I think the only one we will miss is JP Howell.

Batted Bob
Batted Bob

@MLB_PR: 10 games for Ian Kennedy, 5 for Eric Hinske, 2 each for J.P. Howell & Skip Schumaker and 1 for Ronald Belisario”

Batted Bob
Batted Bob

@MLB

1m

#Dodgers LHP J.P. Howell, INF/OF Skip Schumaker have each received two-game suspensions for their aggressive actions during the incidents.

JackedNate
JackedNate

This is the End was the funniest movie I've seen since the Other Guys. Almost convinced the fiancee to stick around and catch Man O Steel at midnight but I'm not that good of a salesman.

moneynow27
moneynow27

Charlie Sheen is taking open auditions for a new TV reality show....Word is the first to tryout will be Ronald Belasario.....(Boring Friday so far.)

The Monocle
The Monocle

Word on the street is that Tomko is holding a workout for teams and Bill Mueller and Colleti are supposed to attend.

Jobu
Jobu

MASOCHIST

Jobu
Jobu

Paco DRANK

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

@Goodski Don't worry. Drank is currently working to make sure League's name appears on the biogenesis report

Jobu
Jobu

But Mike was hoping for more punishment of the Dodgers.  We are masochists here

TheConman
TheConman

@JackedNate @TheConman sorry about the ghost, had to edit that Capuano and Beckett didnt get fined, just the dodgers as a team for their actions

Jobu
Jobu

Masochist

JackedNate
JackedNate

@TheConman @JackedNate Word. Didn't even think that. So ten games for Kennedy is only 2 starts right? I'm surprised Montero didn't get anything because of his malicious intent when Greinke stepped in the batters box.

Jobu
Jobu

We need our HUUUUUUUUULK!

MSTI OG
MSTI OG

that guy obviously plays soccer