Dodgers Backup CF Situation: Andre Ethier Fits


Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Brace yourselves, the OF situation is about to get interesting. As Christmas passes, we all begin to look for the new year and start counting down the number of days till opening day. Here’s a scary thought, if the season were to start right now, Dee Gordon and Nick Chili Buss could very well be competing for the backup CF spot behind Matt Kemp. If the past couple of seasons have anything to say about Kemp’s health, it’s that you should have an adequate backup to play behind the former MVP candidate, Kemp may never be healthy for a full season again, and while I think he gets back to being a very productive player, you still need an adequate backup to cover for Puig’s inevitable run in with a fence, and Crawford’s annual “OW MY HAMSTRING” situation.

So yeah, Dee Gordon and Chili Buss. Mmmm, no. First off, I will not tolerate the “at least Dee’s better than Skip” argument, it’s very difficult to be worse than Skip Schumaker last season, and second, it’d be ideal if Dee could prove himself in Spring Training before he’s handed anything, I like Gordon more than most, but from what he’s shown so far he’s not even an MLB caliber player yet. And of course, Chili Buss. Well we’re actually going to consider giving Buss anywhere from 250-300 MAJOR LEAGUE AB’s, are we? He’s just a product of Albuquerque who was exposed against major league pitching. So no.

Well that’s cool. Its a-okay, lets just dive into the free agent market, see what we come up with, there has to be some non-replacement level player who can be capable of hitting not enough to kill you in 300 AB’s with adequate defense on the market.

Oh… Well, Grady Sizemore! Yep, former all star, gold glover, five tool player and… hasn’t played in 3 years…. hmm. Rick Ankiel!! If you pretend he’s not a left handed batter, and pretend he wasn’t DFA’d by the Astros this past season, and couldn’t find a spot with the Mets then you’ve got a fit…. Trevor Crowe! Crowe, my man, if you just pretend he can defend, and make believe that his OPS is above .700 and wasn’t a tiny .578 this past season, then you’ve got your guy! This isn’t going over too well… Dewayne Wise, of course, saver of perfect games! The Dodgers could sure make room for a guy who in his career has been 35% below league average in terms of hitting. Wait a second, they in fact can’t afford a hitter that bad who is about to turn 36 years old. Maybe if you can get past the Giant stench of Andres Torres (i’m sure Colletti can) has on him, then maybe you have a nice fit at backup CF, but one of the goals this offseason has been to get younger, not fill up on 36 year old backup CF’s.

It’s an awful CF market, so what should the Dodgers do? Well stand pat of course. Remember all that talk of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier getting traded? Well it’s probably smart that the team keep all 4 OF’s at this point. One because Kemp hasn’t proven healthy in over 2 years, mix this with Ethier’s newfound ability to play CF, and you have a decent rotation of 4 supremely talented OF’s. I feel the need to paint a picture of how terrible Skip Schumaker was last season. He hit for no power (only a .069 ISO), was mediocre with with the on base skills (.332 OBP), and a really mediocre OF with a -3.6 UZR and -4 DRS. In 957 innings in his career at CF, he has compiled a bad -9.0 UZR. So why do people expect Dre to get traded? No reason for him to be moved with how awful the options are.

I fully expect the team to not trade any of the 4 OF’s. It’s too risky for the team, and probably wont bring back much of the reward to justify the risk. Joc Pederson  needs to play everyday somewhere, and a season at AAA wont hurt him, it’d be a good test to see his skills against some replacement level type pitching. Who knows, maybe he’ll learn how to hit a LHP down there in Albuquerque. Any team with Andre Ethier on it instead of Andres Torres, Skip Schumaker, or Dee Gordon is a better one, so why mess with what they have right now?