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Daily Dodger in review: Andre Ethier could be at the crossroads of his career

ANDRE ETHIER, 28, outfielder

Final 2010 stats: .292 batting average, 23 home runs, 82 RBI, .364 on-base percentage, .493 slugging percentage in 517 at-bats.

Contract status: signed for next season at $9.25 million.

The good: Until he fractured his pinky on May 15, he was the best hitter in baseball. So good, it was stupid. Through his first 33 games, he was threatening for a triple crown -- hitting .392, with 11 home runs and 38 RBI. Although overall his stats were all down from a year ago, he still ended up with very respectable numbers.

The bad: Rushed back too quickly from his fracture, he never could completely get back into his groove. In the 106 games following his return, he hit .260 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI. The dramatic, game-winning moments vanished.

What’s next: The Dodgers are counting on big comeback years from Ethier and Matt Kemp, who are about their only real source of returning power. He’s no longer a young kid on the come. Ethier turns 29 at the start of next season, so it’s now-or-never time.

The take: No one this side of Andre’s mommy thought he could actually sustain his blistering start. But the Dodgers are hopeful it’s a closer indicator to his true level than the so-so way he finished the season.

If the Dodgers are to return as contenders, they will likely need an Ethier who is knocking at superstardom’s door. He is in his prime now, and truthfully, with the departure of Manny Ramirez, this could be his clubhouse now. It might need to be his clubhouse. He may not have the natural personality to be a team leader, but he could inherit a leadership role simply by being the team’s best player.

Ethier has admittedly always been at his best when he’s played with a slight chip on his shoulder, so it will be interesting to see how he returns next spring.

-- Steve Dilbeck

 
Comments () | Archives (20)

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I say it's time to step up, Andre. Somebody has to.

"andre ethier"

- where to begin and how much time do I get? So much to say, so little internet paper; be still my (black) heart...


"Until he fractured his pinky on May 15, he was the best hitter in baseball."

- recall that until former MLBr's of yesteryear named Davis, Cedeno and others fractured their superstardom in waiting, were variously 'the next Willie Mays'. Likewise, ethier's fans (the both of them) who imagine 'star' need to realize said is 'dom', an errant wish (keep dreaming.) If this be his prime, could equate a poor man's Jim Northrup...


"The Dodgers are counting on big comeback years from Ethier and Matt Kemp"

- setting aside fingers, toes, teeth & empty seats, don't believe there is otherwi$e enough wherewithal on which Dodgers can count anything...

"He’s no longer a young kid on the come. Ethier turns 29 at the start of next season, so it’s now-or-never time."

- Frank Robinson was 'not' an old 30 as it happened, nor frankly be ethier...


"No one this side of Andre’s mommy thought he could actually sustain his blistering start."

- RIMSHOT/CYMBAL CRASH! (+1 Stevo, a tip mine prodigious cap - D'OH!)


"But the Dodgers are hopeful it’s a closer indicator to his true level than the so-so way he finished the season."

- all the hope, faith & charity in the world cannot turn him from a Kermit into a Fielder...


"If the Dodgers are to return as contenders, they will likely need an Ethier who is knocking at superstardom’s door."

- cue Dave Edmunds: "I hear you knockin', but you can't come in!"...


"with the departure of Manny Ramirez, this could be his clubhouse now. It might need to be his clubhouse."

- Manny would indeed have a long reach; safe passage 2011 season might be an rocky NL West voyage a patchwork even mutinous ship unless (baseball sense) Ramirez - as Paul Newman's character 'Exodus' - was able to smuggle some of the White Sox into LA to play for the Dodgers. Check that, we were discussing the Manny (and $) - less Dodgers... back to the not so ethiereal as netherworld McCourt's.


"He may not have the natural personality to be a team leader"

- the heck you say/nonsense - he led the team in total bat-racks slugged %...


"but"

- yes?


"he could inherit a leadership role"

- a wild 'heir' as twere? Shades avant-garde! Well friends, it is almost contract time again: is there an MLB rule against a player owning an interest in his own team while still playing?


"Ethier has admittedly always been at his best when he’s played with a slight chip on his shoulder"

- that's not a chip...


"so it will be interesting to see how he returns next spring."

- I see no way he will or should - but if he does, so too shall this lifelong Dodger fan, because... I care.

Ethier IMO is the most important player on the team, he must return to or as close as possible to the player/ hitter he was before he hurt his pinky.
I'm hoping with a nice long rest over the holidays he'll come back strong.
I don't have to repeat that the offense has to show a lot more life than it showed in '09.

Ethier will be 29 years old on the ninth game of the season 2011.
If McCourt is in control of the team he will probably trade Ethier before the trading deadline next season rather than face the prospect of paying Ethier an even bigger contract in 2012.

Please get out of town Mr. McCourt.

"he must return to or as close as possible to the player/ hitter he was before he hurt his pinky."

- I know some folks (erroneously) believe ethier - cleverly disguised as an mildly journeyman OF'r for the Dodgers - is more powerful than a speeding locomotive, can leap tall buildings in a single bound, bend steel in his bare hands and walk on water etc. etc., but really, he's going to need to be traded to whatever other team Manny ends up signing with in order to make that happen...

I, for one, am confident that he will do his share (and probably more) next season...he's gonna be the star of the club. In fact, I think he'll probably be one of the top three or four outfielders in the league. He'll bat .300 or more, hit 25 or so homers and drive in at least 90 runs. This, of course, is assuming he stays healthy.

Andre Eithier is the last Dodger I'd worry about. Now the rest of these guys...

When you're hot, you're hot, when you're not, you're not.
The Dodger's only real hope is for Ethier and Kemp to get hot next year. Loney doesn't have the power to pick up the slack.

Come on. Hit .300, 25 homers and drive in 90 RBIs is good for Dodger stats but is MLB garden variety stats.

Hit .275 or better, 35 or more hrs and 115 or more RBIs and then we can start talking.

Leadership by example does not necessarily mean leadership by stats. Ethier had the opportunity to show leadership in the second half of the 2010 season. Torre needed someone on the field to step up and they failed miserably. Would Kemp, Loney and Martin look at Ethier as their leader? I don't think so.

Andre Ethier will be just fine. What the Dodgers need is a healthy Furcal. Can Furcal PLEASE be healthy next season. And can Matt Kemp strike out less?!!

Still too many HEAD CASES on the Blue Crew.

Let's recruit for talent + mental health, grit, toughness, character, and the other g.d. virtues.

>> What the Dodgers need is a healthy Furcal.

It's true that Furcal is real catalyst for this team. Unfortunately, I believe the days of a healthy Furcal are in the past. He's not getting younger.

>>And can Matt Kemp strike out less?!!

And in the category of "Never saw a pitch they didn't like", we have: Mark Reynolds and Matt Kemp. If Kemp hasn't learned plate discipline by now, chances are he never will. Tim Wallach can work with him next year, but Kemp has worked with Wallach before. He's essentially intractable.

Living without Manny has always been a problem for Ethier. Even he admitted that he loved hitting behind Manny. Now he will have a whole off season to prepare his mind and body for batting without Manny. Ethier proved he was talented before Manny. I believe he got too dependent on Manny and needs to go back to the mind set that got him here in the first place. We'll just have to wait and see. In any case, he and Kemp won't be here after next season because McCourt won't be able to re-sign them; especially if they improve their hitting.

Ethier isn't the most important player, isn't trade bait and is capable without Manny. He's not the end-all best player ever for us, but he's a pretty good player who should see several more good years. He's worth an investment before he plays this year for a contract. (See Beltre, Adrian - 2004).

And for those still crying about Loney's lack of long balls, get over it, please. The guy is solid as they come defensively, pretty darn smooth actually, and he's good for more than 150 hits and about 90 RBI even in a less than good year for him. Home runs are great and first base is typically a spot for a power hitter, but what Loney brings to our table is plenty fruitful to the offense. Definitely not where you should hang blame for an offense that does 2 runs or less for a 60-plus games stretch to close the season.

The team was structured for three HR hitters, all outfielders. One went away and singles hitters were put in his place, another didn't perform except when he felt like playing, and Ethier's injury struggle is charted accurately above by Steve. That is your offensive power loss - not Loney, or even Blake for that matter. Three long-ball hitters per lineup is about the norm. You can put them all in the OF, you can put a speed/singles hitter in the OF and use a corner position, or you can use both corner positions. Or you can tinker into combinations, including players with both abilities. If you've got 4 true long-ball hitters in your lineup, you're above the MLB norm. (See free-spending Yankees circa any year lately).

I think both Ethier and Kemp may be gearing themselves up for a good solid productive year so that unless the team is sold to someone who can supplement it to the degree it can compete in the West, their performances may earn them trades to a real contender, and the payroll can drop to the level McCourt planned it to all along.

With 15 Jamey Carrolls, and last in the West.

Since Ethier most likely hits 3rd next yr, would much rather he hit over .300 with 25hr than .270 with 35hr. A team can only afford to have one big bopper going for broke and missing alot and Kemp fits that mold. In fact Kemp hitting .270-.280 with 30plushr is what I expect from him next year hitting cleanup everyday before it's all over, as long as he's still a Dodger. The third spot needs to have a better average and OBP to extend innings and prolong rallies and give the 4-5-6 guys more opps to do damage. The ideal first two inns. for me is - 2 out of 1-2-3 get on base and taking big swings 2out 3-4-5 hit or go over the fence and the next inning a hit or walk allows the three hitter with 2 outs to choose whether to swing for fences or prolong the inning. Bam! 4-6 runs depending on how many baserunners you had and good pitching hangs on to win the game. Managers have the first three innings for the lineup to fullfill it's intended potential, after that it is fractured and relies on the the serendipity of bad pitching more heavily. The first inning seems to be the most important and the first 3 the most important batters. Ethier is a prototypical 3 hitter. He runs well hits for average, with a great doubles swing and the ability to swing for the fences when he has to. Defintely the most diciplined Dodger hitter. And definitely the most important Dodger hitter.

"He runs well"

- I think you mistake ethier for Juan Pierre, ambulation for sprint. Have you seen the former guy labor both the outfield & on the basepaths? He may turn an occasional bad pitch into double or more rarely home run, but as one who giveth the one hand offense and giveth away the other defense, watching him in pursuit flyballs recall many that he had to dive for order to make a routine catch into sensational... and have seen a lack his speed beget single from out, double from single, triple from double... (yes, I'm being irreverent as always - but also honest)


"Defintely the most diciplined Dodger hitter."

- have you seen his funks? Definitely the most streaky... as discipline implies consistency, said is not an apropos word his case.

Sorry 16 blows i enjoy your off kilter prose but your perception appears to be the same. I have seen him many times hustling to make plays on op field balls and got outs in foul territory. How many times has he tracked line drives over his head or at the wall. Not saying he is gold glove(plenty of mistakes) and his reads weren't the best when he was coming up but to say he doesn't run well in the outfield is to say you just haven't been watching the games. You seem more the reading while listening on the radio type of guy. Add to that he is very good at getting the extra base, going first to third, but not when it's not there which is why he never costs us games like some of his team mates. Before this year with it's bizarre pinky problem he has never had streaks. Neither the one to start the season nor the one after he came back too early. Also the first month and a half before injury he was so consitantly good i don't know if you can call it streaky. A good week followed by a bad week is streaky. hitting between .360-.420 night in night out for 30 games is just damn good. And hitting .220 without many peaks and valleys for 50gms after coming back is just bad. not streaky.

"Sorry"

- apology accepted.


"16 blows i enjoy your off kilter prose"

- I can understand that; the adulation line forms to the right (first come, first 'served'.)


"but"

- [ drumroll ] ... yes?


"your perception appears to be the same."

- [ ENCORE ENCORE, AUTHOR AUTHOR ]... such a flatterer; if you keep reading you'll receive equal value back in return your reverent affirmation...


"I have seen him many times hustling to make plays on op field balls and got outs in foul territory. How many times has he tracked line drives over his head or at the wall."

- we 'were' talking about 16 remember, not Juan Pierre; let's stick to critiquing the sundial in RF...


"Not saying he is gold glove(plenty of mistakes) and his reads weren't the best"

- is 'that' all? Probably pacing himself, leaving something the tank for when he becomes a Nippon Ham Fighter...


"when"

- no later than 2016 my guess (aft he plays out his MLB contract with the Red Sox where he ends up 2012 if not sooner, likely.)


"he was coming up"

- but now is going down...


"but to say he doesn't run well in the outfield is to say you just haven't been watching the games."

- to say he does is to mistake ambulation for sprint - but as I already used that one, instead I proclaim he is to range what Rover be to fuel efficiency...


"You seem more the reading while listening on the radio type of guy."

- raconteur, bon vivant - a true Renaissance man for all seasons am I...


"Add to that"

- alright; I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once...


"he is very good at getting the extra base, going first to third, but not when it's not there which is why"

- 'Holiday Inn', not Howard Johnson (HoJo)...


"he never costs us games like some of his team mates."

- your amnesia is bothering you again - recall the game vs SF he tried scoring from 3rd base on an (hoped for) sacrifice fly- got thrown out by about ... oh, the distance between journeyman & star. Cost us the game: SF 2 LA 1


"Before this year"

- yes, it was 2009 or thereabouts... remember now?


"with it's bizarre pinky problem he has never had streaks."

- if 'it' is not a streaky hitter then I'm not the guy TJ Simers comes to for a refresher writing one liners...


"Neither the one to start the season nor the one after he came back too early."

- pure semantics; like the stories the good ol' baseball days before agents, of GM negotiating with player, each touting their version of events season last. Here's my take, again: this year as career, his 'tack' be 'streaky' - a differing perspective be one thing, massaging history is quite another. Like a broken clock, you can depend on him now & then... like clockwork however, it's the precipitous drop fluid to static between cannot be considered grist the mill.


"Also the first month and a half before injury he was so consitantly good i don't know if you can call it streaky. A good week followed by a bad week is streaky. hitting between .360-.420 night in night out for 30 games is just damn good."

- lesser shades of John Madden's BOOM!, arm-waving & raising alot of dust on his way early season .759 winning %... that said is overshadowed by 9-7 post season makes the 'overhype' his accomplishments as mysterious today as it was thence; ditto ethier's 'legend'... he is the epitome of mediocrity, my opine.

Put another, 'iIf only' 1/4 equated full season, basketball winner was the one ahead half, football team that led 3rd quarter, a baseball team on top through seven, etc., 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' & 'yeah but' vying honors with 'if only.'


"And hitting .220 without many peaks and valleys for 50gms after coming back is just bad. not streaky."

- finally we've consensus!


Go now, and sin no more or I shall have to give you a fresh one...

And if he hadn't broken his finger??? I just projected his 33 game numbers and it's so scary God had to put a damper on him. Who knows what might happen next year. If he and Kemp had kept up their 1st 5 weeks production, it wouldn't have mattered that Rameriz lost his super-powers after MLB put an end to his child bearing experiments.


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