Dodgers 3, Nationals 2: Nothing But Homers

nolasco_2013-07-19Someday, Hanley Ramirez is going to stop hitting. In fact, that’s part of my next ESPN article, going up tomorrow, which discusses how he and Yasiel Puig simply can’t continue the paces they’ve put forward over the last month, because it’s just not possible.

Today is not that day, apparently. Ramirez’ third-inning blast off Stephen Strasburg provided the first two runs the Dodgers would need, and Andre Ethier‘s ninth-inning tiebreaker off Rafael Soriano was the difference in a 3-2 Dodger victory. For Ethier, it was his first homer in more than a month, since going deep off of Ian Kennedy on June 11, and had he waited just a little while longer, we could have said he’d hit just one homer in two months, since his previous homer before that had been on May 20 in Milwaukee. Ethier now has six homers on the year, but after three in April, he’s got one apiece in May, June, & July.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, the pitching was once again effective. Ricky Nolasco wasn’t dominating — he allowed 10 baserunners and struck out only two in 5.1 innings — but he managed to limit the damage, and Jose Dominguez, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario, & Kenley Jansen cleaned up with 3.2 innings of nearly perfect relief. Don’t look now, but between those four and J.P. Howell, the Dodgers actually have something resembling a decent bullpen. Let’s hope Ned Colletti keeps that in mind before Joc Pederson gets traded for John Axford.

As for Puig, he struck out twice in four plate appearances before being inexplicably double-switched out, but he did at least manage to provide this bit of excitement, courtesy of complex.com:

Bryce Harper was clearly out, though the umpire badly missed the call. Harper eventually scored, though fortunately it didn’t impact the outcome of the game. In the meantime, the Dodgers are just two games behind Arizona as the Diamondbacks are just kicking off a game in San Francisco. Does this mean we have to root for the Giants? I suppose it does, and good lord does that make me feel dirty.

Unpopular Opinion: The Dodgers Shouldn’t Trade Andre Ethier

ethier_2013-06-07…not right now, anyway.

Yes, at some point later this week, Carl Crawford is going to return to action. When he does, the Dodgers are going to finally find themselves in the situation that they’ve been waiting for all year long — having four healthy and expensive outfielders who all expect to be full-time players in Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, & Yasiel Puig. (Plus a fifth, Joc Pederson, well on the way after tearing up the Southern League.)

Obviously, Puig’s not going anywhere. Crawford, even if you wanted to move him, is probably untradeable due to his contract and health concerns, unless the Guggenheimers have suddenly bought another team. Kemp remains the face of the franchise and one of the best players in baseball when healthy, and even in the incredibly unlikely scenario that you actually did want to attempt to move him, his value isn’t exactly at its height right now.

That makes trading Ethier the obvious move, thanks to his disappointing performance, long-time platoon splits, and regular flare-ups with management. We’ve been hearing about Ethier trade rumors for quite some time, and personally I believe that he came closer to landing in Seattle last winter than most think. And hey, maybe that’ll be what happens. Maybe Ned Colletti will find some team who still believes in Ethier, or maybe he’ll just eat so much of his remaining contract that the Dodgers can get a half-decent return.

But let’s put this out there — that’s not a move the team should be desperate to make right now unless there’s a very compelling reason to do so.

Let’s start with the salary, which everyone seems to want to focus on. Yes, the idea of having players making tens of millions of dollars sitting on the bench — whether that’s Ethier, or Kemp, or Crawford on any given day — seems less than ideal. It also doesn’t really matter. Honestly, player salaries should never really matter to the general public in any way other than how they impact the rest of the roster. That is, if giving $20 million to a middle reliever prevents you from using that money on needed upgrades elsewhere, that’s a big problem. If your team doesn’t seem to care about money, as this Dodger club certainly seems not to, then it’s not really relevant. The money is a sunk cost, it’s not going to prevent them from making any other moves, and so it shouldn’t matter. It may lead to some annoying articles from outsiders, but the dollar value of anyone not playing on a certain day shouldn’t stand in the way of putting the best lineup on the field.

Now as far as what “the best lineup on the field” is, that’s something that can change daily based on the situation. Puig, obviously, needs to play every day, though I live in terror of him running full speed into a wall and not only hurting himself, but creating a thermonuclear chain reaction powerful enough to take out most of the West Coast. When healthy, Crawford showed he’s still effective, but there’s also little to indicate that he’s ever actually going to be 100% healthy, and regular time off may be best for him. Kemp obviously needs to play when he’s available, but he’s also missed something like 700 games over the last two seasons. Ethier, of course, simply can’t hit left handed pitching. You can use those strengths and weaknesses, and you can take advantage of them.

While Ethier wasn’t exactly “good” in center field, he was surprisingly passable, and that gives him surprising versatility. When Crawford needs a day off, he can play left. If Kemp needs a breather, you can get by in center for a day. If and when Puig ever takes a break, there’s your right fielder. It works the other way, too — against tough lefty pitching, suddenly Don Mattingly can roll out a lineup of Scott Van Slyke / Kemp / Puig, rather than suffering through Crawford & Ethier flailing away. (This assumes that Van Slyke is still on the team, because he’ll probably be optioned when Crawford returns. That’s not yet certain, though.)

That gives you a chain reaction down the roster, as well, because for years we’ve been watching this team try to skate by with terrible benches populated by the Garret Andersons and Mark Sweeneys of the world. Suddenly, Mattingly can bring Ethier off the bench in a big spot in the eighth inning, or bring in Crawford to hit or run when the game is tight. The more you see of those guys there, the less you see of the light-hitting Nick Punto or Skip Schumaker in big spots — and you drop outfield starts by Schumaker & Jerry Hairston to just about zero.

Again, if there’s somehow a good deal to be made for Ethier, I’m fine with that. I just don’t think there really is, at least not in the way that casual fans won’t think the Dodgers have been completely ripped off. This also isn’t a long-term solution, so if Ethier doesn’t get moved this season, I do think something has to be done in the winter, depending somewhat on what happens with Pederson. But while others would mock the situation — you paid how much to not start a guy? — know that every other team would do the same if money weren’t an issue. Why wouldn’t you want four starting quality outfielders on your roster, with Van Slyke as a decent fifth OF / first base type?

If you’re pointing out that this idea came up before the season and I was against it, that’s fair, but the situation has changed. We didn’t know what Puig would be then. We didn’t know how disappointing Ethier & Kemp would be (for very different reasons, of course), and we had absolutely no idea what to make of Crawford. We know a lot more about each of those guys now, and after months of seeing far too many starts from Hairston & Schumaker & Van Slyke, too much talent is preferable to too little talent — no matter what the paychecks read.

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?

Andre Ethier Is Still Trying to Hit Lefty Pitching

ethier_contacts_homerAh, spring. That wonderful time of year where every team has hope, every non-roster guy has a chance, and everyone starts talking about whether this is finally going to be the year that Andre Ethier can hit lefties. Just like we heard last week, and in April of 2012, and March of 2012, and January of 2011, and so on and so on.

This time, it’s new hitting coach Mark McGwire who insists he can make things right. Or left. Whatever.

McGwire doesn’t think Ethier is far from being effective against left-handers, pointing to how he hit .351 against them as a rookie in 2006 and a respectable .279 the next season.

The story goes on to explain how Ethier has changed his approach, is going to be more selective, and has been taking lefty curveballs from a pitching machine every morning. That’s all well and good. It’s wonderful, actually, because we all want Ethier to improve, and the fact that he’s putting extra work in at least shows that he’s cognizant of the problem. Good for him. I hope it works.

But let’s get back to reality and dive into that McGwire quote, because it’s full of holes. As many holes, one might say, as Andre Ethier hitting against a lefty pitcher. I wouldn’t say that. But someone might. It’s really, really difficult to put a lot of stock in that .351 batting average being relevant considering that A) it was seven years ago; B) it was a mere 82 plate appearances; C) it came as a rookie, when pitchers were still learning the book on Ethier; D) it came with a lovely .406 BABIP.

With all of that being the case, you’ll excuse me if I’m not really putting a lot of emphasis on the fact that years ago, before anyone had ever even heard of “Twitter” or “Iphone”, when Ethier was still playing for Grady Little and was teammates with guys like Olmedo Saenz, Kenny Lofton, & Giovanni Carrara, he was able to knock a few singles off of pitchers like Chris Michalak, Eric Milton, & Jack Taschner. I know it’s McGwire’s job to pump up his new pupil — what’s he really going to say, “well, that guy is hopeless”? — and so i don’t fault him for saying it. It’s also all but impossible to believe that Ethier’s successful-but-minimal 2006 production is in any way relevant all these years later in the face of more than a thousand plate appearances of evidence.

Year
Total PA
vLH
vRH
LH%
2006
441
82
359
18.5
2007
507
119
388
23.5
2008
596
155
441
26.0
2009
685
187
498
27.2
2010
585
178
407
30.4
2011
551
151
400
27.4
2012
618
239
379
38.6

We’ve talked about this at length, really, both here and elsewhere. As the repurposed table at right shows, a large part of Ethier’s problem is simply that managers finally realized that he’s hopeless against southpaws and began making sure he faced as many as possible. (That number was actually over 40% for much of the season before dropping down late in the year when Don Mattingly began hitting Ethier second against righties and seventh against lefties.)

What’s especially odd — and no, I don’t have a good explanation for this — is that not only does Ethier have trouble hitting lefty pitching, he has a huge home/road split against them. Over his career, Ethier has hit .275/.331/.414 against lefties at home, which is actually not that bad at all. On the road? It’s a cover-your-eyes bad .198/.259/.286. He hits better in Dodger Stadium against righties as well, though not quite to such extremes, and I have no idea how to explain that.

In my eyes, it’s not that Ethier has had a sudden, unexplained downturn against southpaw pitchers, as the article indicates. It’s that he was never really that good against them in the first place, regardless of what a small sample size from over half a decade ago says. If McGwire really wants to earn his keep, he’ll figure out just what it is about playing on the road that has plagued Ethier so much. Mattingly can help too; while ideally he’d just sit Ethier against lefties, I don’t think many of us really expect that he’s actually going to play Alex Castellanos over his expensive star. But he can at least continue his lineup shifting from late last year, getting Ethier more at-bats higher in the lineup against righties and hiding him lower against lefties. It’s not perfect, but anything that gets Ethier away from southpaws is an acceptable compromise.

******

Ethier is not in today’s lineup against the Cubs, in the first Dodger road game of the spring. Per the Dodgers, here’s who is: Hairston RF, Amezaga 2B, Ramirez SS, Gonzalez 1B, Luna 3B, Punto DH, Federowicz C, Puig CF, Herrera LF, Harang RHP.

It’s too bad it won’t be televised (or even broadcast on Dodger radio), because I’d sure like to see Yasiel Puig playing center field.

2194 Words on Andre Ethier, Michael Bourn, and Trade Value

ethier_vs_bravesOn New Year’s Eve, Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider caused a bit of a stir when he tweeted ”hearing Mariners have progressed in trade talks for a hitter. Indications it’s Ethier. Multiple players involved.

As you can imagine, that got everyone all excited, because Andre Ethier is a big name, and any time any sort of half-credible rumor comes up involving a fan favorite, people are going to get excited. I say “half-credible” not to impugn Churchill, though he’s not really known for breaking trade news, but because this news isn’t necessarily ”news”. Despite the insistence of some national writers that the Dodgers haven’t been involved in trade discussions for Ethier, if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been saying here for weeks that they have — specifically with Seattle & Texas. In my book, that gives Churchill’s report somewhat more credence, though it’s difficult to know if negotiations really have moved forward or if he’s just getting older info out now.

Either way, it’s clear that the Dodgers and Mariners have been discussing Ethier, and whether it happens or not, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve been doing so. The Dodgers considered signing Josh Hamilton and trading Ethier. They considered signing Nick Swisher and trading Ethier. Now, it’s Michael Bourn, who is the only outfield option left that would make moving Ethier even a possibility.

Whether signing Bourn and trading Ethier makes sense depends on two things; first, your opinion of Bourn’s value as opposed to Ethier’s, since they’re very different players, and second, what sort of return the Dodgers could expect in exchange for Ethier.

It’s that second part which is going to be more difficult to parse, because there’s an absolutely enormous gap between the value of Andre Ethier as seen by the common Dodger fan, and as seen of Ethier within the industry. The Dodger fan sees one of the longest-tenured players, a guy with more than his share of huge hits for this team, a “Gold Glover”, a homegrown talent — well, sort of — who is one of the most popular players in uniform, and they think “superstar”. But that’s not at all how his trade value is going to be seen by other teams. While he’s obviously a talented hitter who crushes righty pitching, he’s also a guy on the wrong side of 30 who offers limited defensive value, is unplayable against lefties, has continued injury concerns and occasional battles with management, and a huge contract that was panned by almost everyone outside of Los Angeles.

That’s the guy who the Dodgers are offering in trade, and that means that expectations should be limited. That means that no, he’s not bringing back Felix Hernandez — not that he’s available anyway — and he’s almost certainly not going to bring back Kyle Seager, who would be a great solution to the Dodger infield problem. (That’s less about Ethier than it is about the fact that the entire point of this for Seattle is to fix their atrocious offense, and moving one of their few decent hitters would be counterproductive. Free agents won’t take Seattle’s money to hit in that park, so they’re forced to try to trade for one.)

In one of Churchill’s many tweets on the subject, he opines that he heard the discussed deal would have four players coming from Seattle and two headed north from the Dodgers, and that aligns exactly with what I’ve heard. Unsurprisingly, Ethier would be joined by an excess starting pitcher — Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang —  but the identity of the Seattle foursome changes each time I hear about it. The two pieces of it that rarely change are lefty Charlie Furbush, 27 in April, who was one of the best lefty relievers in the American League last year in his first year in the bullpen (2.81 FIP, 53/16 K/BB in 46.1 IP) and one of the several impressive Seattle starting pitching prospects. No, that wouldn’t be Taijuan Walker, who is probably one of the five best pitching prospects in all of the minors, but more likely James Paxton or Danny Hultzen, who are thought of in the #3-5 range of Seattle prospects.

The other two seem to be in flux. Just last week at FanGraphs, I wrote about how the additions of Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, & Kendrys Morales this winter make for a huge 1B/LF/DH logjam in Seattle, given that Justin Smoak, Casper Wells, Mike Carp, Eric Thames, Michael Saunders, & Jesus Montero are all already in the picture. They’re going to need to alleviate that mess somehow, especially if they’re adding another outfielder in Ethier, and so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Wells (a righty outfielder with pop who is a good defender at all three positions) or Carp (who is out of options and doesn’t hit righty, but who can play first base and corner outfield) find their way into the deal. The last player could be another, lesser, prospect, or it could be that the Dodgers do want to add a fantastic defensive shortstop (if a total black hole at the plate) in Brendan Ryan, because you know I didn’t just write about him last week out of the blue.

If a pitching prospect, lefty reliever, bench player, and a zero-bat shortstop — I should point out here we have no idea how much money the Dodgers might send along to cover Ethier as well, which would be a huge component of any deal — doesn’t exactly sound like enough of a return for Ethier, you wouldn’t be alone in that opinion; the casual fan, who likely wouldn’t have heard of Paxton/Hultzen and focuses only on Ryan’s batting average, would howl.

But if such a deal does happen — and again, we’re indulging in speculation and somewhat-informed opinion here, because we don’t know what a final deal would look like or if it even will happen at all — it’d be important to remember that it couldn’t be looked upon solely as “Ethier traded to Seattle”; since the Dodgers would almost certainly only pull the trigger if Bourn was committed to coming, it would have to be seen as part of a larger move in which this kind of complicated overall math would need to be completed:

Ethier OR Bourn plus [Seattle trade acquisitions] plus [moving Matt Kemp to RF] minus [first round pick]

An added complication here is not knowing what kind of contract Bourn & Scott Boras would command, because while his market is very limited right now, he’s also almost certainly going to want more per year than B.J. Upton got in his 5/$75m contract with Atlanta. If the Dodgers are going to be throwing in some money for Ethier as well.. well, I don’t think anyone wants to be putting $100m or more between Bourn & Ethier to make this happen. Then again, the Dodgers don’t seem to care about money these days and the figure here is impossible to speculate on with any accuracy, so we’ll set that aside for the moment.

The first round pick falls into similar territory for me. While I obviously prefer to hang onto those valuable picks whenever possible, I’m not against losing it as a strict rule. I hated the idea when the Dodgers kicked around bringing back Hiroki Kuroda because I felt it was foolish to do so for one year of a 38-year-old pitcher; it’s different for several years of a valuable outfielder, and especially so if the value of the prospects coming from Seattle help replenish the system nearly as much anyway. It would be portrayed as the Dodgers “losing a pick to sign Bourn,” but it really could be seen as being part of the overall transaction here.

So that leaves us with the idea of what is better for the Dodgers in 2013 and beyond: Ethier in right field, or Bourn in center, Kemp in right, and holes filled by the Seattle additions. And I have to say, it’s a lot more difficult than I anticipated to choose between those two scenarios.

The appeal to keeping Ethier is obvious. He might only do one thing well, but he’s really, really good at it: crushing righty pitching. Copying myself from a few weeks, ago, “even last year, when he struggled for months at a time, he had the 7th highest wOBA against righties of any other player, better than Josh Hamilton or Giancarlo Stanton or Joe Mauer or Chase Headley. Over the last three years, he’s 9th; over the last five, he’s 7th.” That’s not just good, it’s elite, and considering that there’s more righty pitching than lefty pitching in baseball, there’s considerable value to that. As I’ve begged for over the last four years or so, if you just accept he’ll never hit lefties and find him a decent platoon partner, his overall line will make him look like a star and we’ll all be happy to sit back and watch him rake. That’s the kind of player that’s very difficult to give up.

But whether the team has been unable or unwilling to do so, that platoon partner has never materialized, and it’s becoming a problem that his great production against righties won’t mask. Word is out, and Ethier saw far more lefty pitching than ever last season, nearly 40% of his plate appearances. That’s not a number which is likely to decrease without the Dodgers actively keeping him away from southpaws, and after more than 1,100 career plate appearances against lefties, any hope of him learning to hit them should be long gone.

If you’re choosing Bourn, you’re going with a player who is unquestionably inferior to Ethier with the bat. Bourn’s .326 wOBA last year was just a touch off his career high of .330; Ethier’s worst season, back in 2007, was .341. Ethier gets on base more and provides considerably more power; no one is going to argue that.

Of course, Bourn brings value in ways that Ethier can’t even consider. He’s stolen at least 41 bases in each of the last five years, twice topping 60; Ethier has 21 in his entire career. By FanGraphs‘ “Ultimate Base Running” stat, he was 10th in MLB in 2012 and 2nd over the last three seasons. In the field, most would agree that Ethier has improved from “borderline atrocious” to “acceptable” over the last two seasons, but Bourn is universally acclaimed as a very good defender at a much more valuable position. That’s why, despite Ethier’s advantage at the plate, Bourn has been ranked as a more valuable player by fWAR in each of the last four seasons, and of course cumulatively over that time (20.1 to 11.1). He’s also durable, having visited the disabled list only once — and not since 2007 — unlike Ethier, who has been sidelined with various maladies in each of the last three seasons.

You also have to take in account the effect on the rest of the roster. With Ethier, Kemp remains in center and the leadoff spot in the order is a question with no right answer, potentially dooming us to more time with Mark Ellis gritting out grounders to second. With Bourn, Kemp moves to right field, vastly improving the defense at two outfield spots and providing a perfect solution for leadoff. In that situation, you’re maybe looking at a top five of 1-Bourn / 2-Carl Crawford / 3-Kemp / 4-Adrian Gonzalez / 5-Hanley Ramirez, which is pretty appealing. (Also if you care about such things, Bourn & Crawford are longtime friends who played on the same Little League team in Houston, which is a nice bonus.) Plus, you’ve added whatever the return for Ethier would be, which potentially strengthens the bench, defense, bullpen, and farm system.

If it sounds like I’ve completely talked myself into wanting to do this, that’s not quite true, though I admit it’s more and more intriguing the more I think about it. The single most valuable skill in all of these permutations is Ethier’s productivity against righty pitching, and you never want to be the side that’s giving away the most valuable asset. There’s also the concern that as a speed player, Bourn — eight months Ethier’s junior — is more susceptible to aging in his 30s, which is valid, though I’ll admit that doesn’t bother me as much here because we’ve seen few signs of it yet and it’s not like Ethier isn’t also a threat to decline to the point where he should only be a 1B/DH, positions the Dodgers can’t offer — especially with his injury history.

I do think that we’ll have a resolution on this one way or another relatively quickly, because Boras needs to find Bourn a home and I can’t imagine Ethier enjoys seeing his name constantly out there in trade rumors. If it does happen, the specifics that we can’t yet know — who Seattle would send in return, and how the money plays out between Bourn’s contract and covering Ethier — would of course make or break the deal. For now, I can say this: the rumors surrounding Ethier are real, and there’s a very good argument to be made that moving him and signing Bourn improve the club both now and in the future, just as they were valid lines of reasoning when Swisher & Hamilton were the potential targets.