Several baseball pundits were debating the Baltimore Orioles recent decision to sign outfielder Adam Jones to a six year, $85 million deal. On one hand, some felt the Orioles paid too much for a player with a lifetime batting average of .278 and an average of only 21 home runs a year entering the 2012 season. On the other side of the coin is the upbeat message the signing sends to long suffering O’s fans-the team may finally be headed in the right direction. No matter how you slice it, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and outfielder Andre Ethier have got to be taking an interest in what happened 3,000 miles and another league away from Los Angeles.
Ethier, who turned 30 in April, entered spring training somewhat bitter over the fact the Dodgers signed his teammate, Matt Kemp, to an 8-year, $160 million dollar deal this past winter. Ethier had to “settle” for a measly $10.95 million one year deal and is therefore a free agent after this season. Meanwhile, Colletti has been saying he wants to sign the All-star right fielder to a long term deal but the ownership situation made it difficult. Well, hopefully the bank accounts are in order by now.
Ethier is arguably the main reason the Dodgers have been able to open a 7.5 game lead in the NL West. He is batting .314 with 9 home runs and his 41 RBI ties him for first in the National League. The biggest improvement at the plate this season has been his ability to hit left handed pitchers. He is currently batting .324 against lefties after averaging .226 the previous two seasons.
If the Dodgers find a way to hang on and make it to the postseason, the idea of Ethier splitting is a depressing thought. The Dodgers have had a gaping hole in left field since Manny Ramirez was dumped off to the White Sox in 2010. They can ill afford to add hole #2.
Left field has been a revolving door of disappointing prospects and questionable veterans (Marcus Thames, anyone?) the past season and a half. Prospect Xavier Paul didn’t work out and two other products of the Dodgers farm system, Jerry Sands and Scott Van Slyke, are still in the mix…barely. Spring training saw Sands being given a chance to win the job but he couldn’t even make the opening day roster. He is hitting .200 since being called up in mid-May to replace the injured Juan Rivera. Van Slyke (.136 AVG), has responded to his three starts in left by going 0-12. Bobby Abreu, 37, is the latest cast-off from another team to be handed the slot but everyone knows he is a one season, or less, answer.
The man now running the day-to-day operations of the Dodgers is Stan Kasten, whose history has shown he isn’t big on big contracts. He was gone from the Washington Nationals when they decided to give Jayson Werth a $126 million contract. Many have said that wouldn’t have happened under Kasten.
So will Kasten break his old habits and send the same signal to Dodgers fans with Ethier as the Orioles did with Jones? Dodgers fans can give him 85 million reasons why he should.
More Dodgers ramblings:
1. Ted Lilly will visit the DL for the second time this season. Here is the press release the Dodgers sent out.
The Los Angeles Dodgers today placed left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 24) with left shoulder inflammation and recalled left-handed pitcher Michael Antonini from Triple-A Albuquerque. Lilly was 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA and a .203 opponents’ batting average in eight starts this season, last pitching on Wednesday at Arizona. This will be Lilly’s second stint on the disabled list this season after opening the campaign on the DL and missing the club’s first eight games due to neck stiffness.
2. Rich Wemmer, the head of security for the Dodgers, has decided to retire. Wemmer, who served more than 40 years in law enforcement, took the job in April of 2011. He was placed in charge of improving Dodger Stadium security after the tragic beating of Bryan Stow in the parking lot after opening day of 2011. But another violent incident in the parking lot on May 19th opened old wounds and led many fans to question exactly what those improvements were.