Ignoring that poll on the right for a minute, I know that Andre Ethier is the luckiest man in baseball right now, I just feel like a jerk for slagging a guy who's hitting .343 after 334 plate appearances. Still, there is something to be said about getting rid of a guy when his value is at its highest, so let's examine whether or not the Dodgers should dump their first good, young player since Raul Mondesi.
Why we should trade Andre Ethier
-His BABIP is .401, , which leads all players with at least 250 plate apperances by .027.
-Unlike the guy in second place, Cory Sullivan, Ethier's line drive percentage is only 22.9%. Since a hitter's BABIP should be around .120 plus line drive percentage, it suggests that Ethier's batting average is artificially high.
-Since Ethier's isolated patience is terrible, .043, and his isolated power is .205, which is about .017 points above average for a left fielder. If his batting average regresses, you're looking at a guy who would be average at best.
-His value probably won't be this high at any time in the next few years.
-The Dodgers desperately need a strong pitcher, and the options on the open market are all scary. Jason Schmidt will be 34, Barry Zito isn't really an ace, and Daisuke Matsuzaka will cost 25 million dollars just for the right to pay him a ton of money. If Ethier could bring a strong pitcher to the Dodgers, it would probably be a worthwhile move.
Why shouldn't we trade Andre Ethier?
-Ethier showed decent patience in the minors, so lack of walks could be the byproduct of him hitting so well. If everything you put into play finds a hole, why not do your best Randall Simon impersonation?
-Even if you regress Ethier's numbers back to his "natural" BABIP, .349, he's still pretty good. He would lose 11 hits, giving him a line of .307/.353/.498. Assuming you take away his singles, doubles and triples in their current proportions, Ethier loses eight singles, two doubles, and a triple in the regression. He's no longer a stud, but he's certainly acceptable.
-Ethier is only 24, so he still has room for improvement. While he's making this improvement, he'll still be making close to the league minimum.
-If you trade Ethier, and he doesn't regress to the mean, Dodger fans spend the next decade and a half regretting the Ethier trade, and you get run out of town.
-You have to replace Ethier. If you can't do this in a trade, there really aren't any palatable options on the free agent market. Carlos Lee has priced himself out of the market, and Jose Guillen is hurt. Frank Catalanotto is probably the next best outfielder out there, assuming you don't want to touch Soriano with a ten foot pole.
With all this in mind, the conclusion that I have to draw is that unless you can get something the Dodgers desperately need, either a stud power hitter or an ace pitcher, you should hold on to Ethier, regression be damned. But, if Dave Littlefield in his infinite wisdom is willing to let go of Jason Bay, I wish Ethier good look on the Pirates.