As the great Slim Pickens said in Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles “What in the wide wide world of sports is a goin’ on here.” The Dodgers lost another series Sunday, to another club with a losing record, and in the process a disturbing trend continued, two more players were injured. This time is was the teams starting catcher and #2 home run threat Rod Barajas, and the outfielder formerly knownas Andre Ethier, who mired in a terrible slump. Both players are out of the lineup for tonight’s game in Houston and the Dodgers starting lineup resembles an average AAA squad.
The Dodgers are now 10 games into a key 19 game stretch against a favorable schedule that could have put them in a great position beginning in June when the schedule is going to become more demanding. Instead the Dodgers are 3-7 mostly against teams with losing records. They have 3 more games against Houston one of only three teams who has a worse record than the Dodgers, before they return home with five games against Florida and Colorado, needless to say these three games in Houston are critical.
Back to Ethier, he has just 1 hit in his last 30 at-bats. He has homered exactly once in the month of May and that home run accounts for all of his extra-base hits for the month as well. As much flack as James Loney has taken for his lack of power and lack of extra-base hits Ethier is certainly due the same, which perhaps may account for him sending the following message to reporters last week.
Obviously something is wrong with ‘Dre. He has complained about elbow soreness and no surprise, since that time his production has plummeted. To add injury to insult Ethier was removed from yesterday’s game after crashing into the outfield wall chasing a ball hit by former Dodger Juan Pierre, who the Dodgers are paying 3.5 million dollars to play for the White Sox this year. The diagnosis is injuries to his back and toe and a bruised right elbow. Add these to his injured left elbow, which if you watch him throw there is no doubt it is really bothering him and the production speaks for itself, Ethier is clearly not healthy.
Is it the baseball gods dropping a karma bomb on ‘Dre for his one finger salute or for his untimely comments about signs pointing towards him not being a Dodger after this season. I’m sure you all remember this doozy that Ethier dropped right before the season opener and right after he declared he was ready to step up as a team leader for the Dodgers this year:
"“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…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."
Add this to a report that surfaced last fall that Andre Ethier reportedly told friends he would like to play with the Red Sox and his good buddy Dustin Pedroia, according to CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam. So you combine all of this and it’s no wonder that at least one Dodger blogger, Howard Cole of the Orange County Register, thinks that it may be time for the Dodgers to consider trading Ethier. Personally I think it’s way to early to consider something so drastic, but Ethier’s value may never be higher than it is right now, and if a contending team is willing to open up the vault and give the Dodgers a third baseman, catcher, second baseman and
first baseman, then you have to at least think about it.
Just consider how much the Dodgers gave away to acquire Casey Blake, who has nowhere near the ability or track record that Ethier does. But then again it’s doubtful the Dodgers could find a trading partner who would be as generous as Ned Colletti has been in dealing Dodger prospects, and also consider Ethier was the first player Colletti acquired as GM of the Dodgers so it’s doubtful he would be willing to trade Ethier.
Regardless Ethier has seen his terrific start come to a crashing halt in the month of May due to injuries, sound familiar? His batting average has dropped over 70 points and sits just above .300. His slugging percentage has dropped 120 points and sits at .430 which resides in the same area as notable non-sluggers like Corey Patterson, Jacoby Ellsbury and Martin Prado.
Meanwhile Barajas sprained his right wrist trying to apply a tag to Pierre, who managed to take out two Dodgers in the span of a few minutes. Fortunately X-rays for both players were negative. But one look at the Dodgers starting lineup tonight and it’s not hard to imagine that runs will be hard to come by. Aside from Matt Kemp the batting averages for tonight are as follows:
1. Rafael Furcal .161
2. Aaron Miles .286 (He’s been a pleasant surprise)
3. James Loney .240 (yes your third hitter tonight is slugging .292)
4. Matt Kemp .316 (will he even see any pitches to hit tonight?)
5. Jay Gibbons .194 (the guy protecting Kemp is hitting below .200 and slugging .258, and this is who Mattingly wants to platoon with Jerry Sands meaning your future will sit on the bench several times a week while Gibbons plays, and you wonder why this team has the 4th worst winning percentage in all of baseball)
6. Jerry Sands .241 (after hitting his first career home run Saturday he had his first career 4 hit game Sunday, yet he’s no better than a platoon mate with Jay Gibbons. Seriously?
7. Dioner Navarro .115 (which warrants a million dollar salary again you wonder why this team is having troubles)
8. Russ Mitchell .091 (Friday nights hero still trying to get over the .100 average hump)
9. Clayton Kershaw .211 (Is it bad when your pitcher has the 6th highest OPS in your starting lineup? Yes it is, very very bad)
On a more positive note the folks from the website Stadium Journey recently visited AT&T Field home of the Dodgers AA Chattanooga Lookouts. The Lookouts may very well have one of the best AA rotations with Rubby De La Rosa, Josh Lindblom, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Withrow. The park got excellent reviews:
"Their new home at AT&T Field was constructed in 1999 to replace historic Engel Stadium which had served as the home field for the Lookouts since 1930. Located right on the bank of the Tennessee River, AT&T Stadium is a beautiful part of the revitalized downtown area known as the Waterfront Area. This area includes a plethora of restaurants, museums, night spots, and one of the nicest Aquariums in the nation."
It also offers fans an excellent value:
"Parking, tickets, and snacks were all about as inexpensive as it gets these days. We paid $5 to park, $4 for general admission tickets, and less than $15 for a hot dog, a hamburger, french fries and a large drink. Where else can you park, eat and have an evening’s entertainment for less than $30 for two? Minor league baseball at a place like Chattanooga’s AT&T Field is one of the best deals going for entertainment and value, especially for families"
If you have had the chance to take in a game in Chattanooga please check out Stadium Journey.com and share your opinions about your experience. They also have reviews of many other ballparks around the country so if you are planning on attending a ball game on your next trip, or would like to just find out what is available in your area or places you may be visiting Stadium Journey is a great site to visit to find out about the fan experience for almost every sport imaginable.
Finally with all of the negativity surrounding the Dodgers I thought I would treat you readers to a small taste of how I spent my Saturday night. Needless to say U2 has still got it and if they are going to be in an arena near you this summer I would recommend you go see them they put on an amazing show! Enjoy.