It’s Always a Great Dre in L.A.
Andre Everett Ethier was born in Phoenix, Arizona and is 29 years old. Ethier had an accomplished college career at Arizona State University before he was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 37th round of the 2001 amateur draft. He played well in the A’s minor league system until he was traded on December 13, 2005 to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez. Anyone who knows about Bradley’s antics knows that this trade was wonderful for the Dodgers.
Whether he was flipping off the media or flapping his mouth to reporters, Andre Ethier was involved in much controversy this past season. Some fans have questioned his allegiance to the Dodgers and his supposed desire to play elsewhere. Although Dre has often had a case of foot-in-the mouth, he has been an asset to the team and a fan favorite. Ethier is entering the last year of his contract, and will most certainly garner more than his current salary of $9.25 million. He should be offered a long-term deal alongside Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.
There was a slurry of ant-Ethier articles written this past season including one from Steve Dilbeck who complained about Ethier’s power production. Of course there was also the T.J. Simers article in the L.A. Times, which insinuated that the Dodgers were making Ethier play with a knee injury. Andre’s choice of words were not the best, and the article spurred an outcry from Dodger fans. Some called for him to be traded. For me, a big Andre Ethier fan, I could care less about what he does or says off the field.
Admittedly Dre’s power numbers have decreased due to his nagging knee injury. He played in 135 games this past season and only managed 11 homeruns and 62 RBIs. He did have an exciting 30 game hitting streak, had 142 hits, and finished with a good .292 batting average. He also had 8 outfield assists which was 15th best in the league, and made some great catches out in right field helping him to receive the 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his defensive excellence in right field for the National League. In 6 seasons with the Dodgers Dre has a .291 average. In 2009 he had a career high 31 homeruns and 106 RBIs in the same year he won the Silver Slugger Award. He’s been an All-Star twice. During a year when we had the likes of Juan Uribe, first-half James Loney, and Dioner Navarro, it seemed like complaining about Andre Ethier was unwarranted.
Some may disagree with me, but Andre Ethier has been one of the valuable core players for the Dodgers since debuting with the Dodgers on May 2, 2006. Ned Colletti has said that he would like to sign Dre to a new contract, and hopefully we will see that happen. Of course locking down Clayton Kershaw and Matt KeMVP is paramount, but Ethier is a favorite I wouldn’t want to see leave. Ethier’s struggles this past season may actually help the Dodgers sign him to a somewhat less expensive contract which could be expected to be around $10-11 million for 2012.
Back in March after Ethier spoke out regarding his future in Los Angeles which seemed to be a reaction to Chad Billingsley’s contract extension, Colletti responded by saying “I don’t have any interest in moving him, trading him, anything. I like him, and the first deal I made when I came to this club was acquiring him for Milton Bradley, and so it’s always been a special deal for me and a special person we acquired, so everything’s cool on my end.”
The Dodgers shut down Ethier in the early part of September after any playoff hopes were already vanquished. He had successful arthroscopic knee surgery shortly thereafter, and is currently rehabbing in his hometown of Arizona. He should be healthy and raring to go for Spring Training.
Whether you are a Dre fan or not, Andre has been integral to this current Dodgers team. Ethier and Kemp are a dynamic duo in the lineup, and when he’s healthy, Ethier can be one of the most exciting players to watch in the field or at the plate. Advanced statistics cannot accurately reflect his importance to the team. Watching him play everyday dispels any nonsensical notion that he is merely mediocre. I look forward to many more walk-off hits and Gold Glove defense from him in 2012.