"My salary is increasing each year. I would say the likeliness of me being here beyond this year, it's not just my decision. ... I have been kind of lucky to be in one spot in baseball for as long as I have been, for six years now. That is a long time to be in one city playing for one team. There is no inclination now other than to go out and play this year and see what we've got."
Andre Ethier of course said that at the beginning of the season, Ned Colletti said he had no intention of moving him, and everything was cool. We just attributed that to Ethier being weird or jealous of Chad Billingsley's contract extension, or at least I did. But then Bud Selig stepped in, making it painfully obvious how disasterous things were for the Dodgers. Of course, the team has performed even worse than expected too - good starting pitching, no offense, and as of this writing they lead all of MLB in losses by starting pitchers who pitch a quality start, currently at 16 (4 each for Billingsley and Kuroda) was expected, but one might have assumed how much went wrong.
Before the season, I would have thought Blake and Furcal would have been healthy more often, that the platoon of Jay Gibbons and Marcus Thames would not have both been DFA'd (I had Thames hitting .275/.325/.520 25 HR in 390 PA; oops), that James Loney would not continue to become even more anemic at the plate, that Juan Uribe would not struggle to stay over the Mendoza line (though we knew he wouldn't be an OBP machine), that Aaron Miles would never be the 3 hitter, and that the Dodgers would have at least been semi-competitive in the NL West in July when Buster Posey is out for the year with a broken leg.
But, as the hitting coach for a potent offense once said, I'm not here to talk about the past. Rather, I'm just thinking out loud about whether Andre Ethier will still be around on August 1.
We already know that Hiroki Kuroda will be a top player to consider moving at the trade deadline, though he'll have to waive his no-trade clause. Jamey Carroll might get traded, but probably not for a real prospect. Maybe Mike MacDougal or Blake Hawksworth draw interest with their sparkly ERAs, but you're probably not getting too much more than a utility player for either of them. Kershaw and Billingsley are staying put, and Matt Kemp certainly will too. About the only other player on the Dodgers right now who looks like they're having a decent enough season that you'd want them on your team is Andre Ethier.
The reasons not to trade Andre Ethier are pretty strong: outside of Matt Kemp, nobody on this team is good at hitting a baseball. Jamey Carroll can walk. Rod Barajas can put up a sub-.300 OBP with some home runs. That's it. Given that the Dodgers are likely to go into 2012 without Rafael Furcal or Casey Blake, that's going to hurt them. And even on the free agent market, there's just about nobody there. Outside Carlos Beltran and Josh Willingham, it drops off to the likes of Laynce Nix and Cody Ross.
But that's also why Ethier is such a good trade target. Acquiring Ethier means that you have a corner OF for next year too, but you won't have to commit beyond 2012, and given Beltran's recent injury history and Willingham's sharp decline playing for Oakland (though Matt Holliday dropped off a lot playing for the A's too), and since you can have him for over a year before he hits free agency as a Type A free agent, Ethier's a great player to acquire. Given that, he should fetch a great bounty on the trade market.
So if you're Ned Colletti for a day, after you shave your mustache and throw your Giants ring in the trash you probably don't want to get rid of Ethier. His absence will be that much harder for your team to be competitive. Sure, Ethier's defense might be bringing down his value, but your team isn't 7th in the NL in OBP without him (yes, the Dodger's team OBP of .316 is good enough for 7th in the NL), and you hope to be able to compete in 2012, and definitely by 2013 to convince Matt Kemp to stick around. So, as the cliche goes, you have to be blown away by an offer for Andre Ethier, and possibly eat some of his remaining salary.