Introducing Andre Ethier: The New Face of the Dodgers

Andre EthierAfter getting called up to the big leagues in 2005, Andre Ethier was immediately traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Los Angles Dodgers, in exchange for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez. Though the Dodgers gave up a formidable talent in Bradley, they saw something special in the minor-league right fielder. Simply stated, it was potential. When new general manager Ned Colletti was given the reins in 2005, he focused on creating a starting lineup that depended on its youngsters. Since then, he’s been brutally criticized for signing former stars to bulky contracts that have failed to pan out. However, he should be credited for completing what he set out to do way back in 2005. By dipping into his farm system instead of his check book, Colletti has made Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier into everyday players.

At times, it’s tough to be a Dodger fan. Besides the Yankees, the Dodgers make more transactions involving blue chip players than any other organization. Their starting lineup one day may be completely different the next, as a smorgasbord of future hall-of-famers and one-time greats jump in and out of the lineup. Colletti has taken huge risks in spending enormous sums on big-name players. Manny Ramirez is proving to be his first untainted success after the unfruitful acquisitions of Andruw Jones, Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, and Brad Penny. Colletti is paying each of these guys at least $5 million a year and is hearing about it every day.

Then there’s Andre Ethier. After signing a one-year $425,000 deal for the 2007-08 season, Ethier has quickly matured into the Dodgers’ most economic star. Actually, forget “economic.” He is the Dodgers’ best all-around player and will soon become the face of their organization if Colletti plays his cards right. Keep in mind, Ramirez came aboard more than two-thirds into the season. At 36 years-old, Manny is a future hall-of-famer with only a few years remaining. As much as the Dodgers and their fans would love to keep the free-spirited slugger, his contract is up at the end of the season, and all signs point to Manny in pinstripes.

Ethier is only 26 and just finishing his third professional season. He has an unbelievable arm, can hit for both power and average, and has avoided injury. On a roster that contains five capable outfielders—Ethier, Jones, Kemp, Ramirez, and Pierre—Ethier has undeniably earned a starting slot. He leads the Dodgers in homeruns (20) and batting average (.299), is tied with Matt Kemp in doubles (36), and is second in RBIs (71) and triples (6). Ethier is a free agent at the end of this season and, as these numbers show, he’s proven more valuable than those other cash cows.

The Dodgers are finally breaking away from the Diamondbacks and are running a blue streak towards the pennant. This current success can be found in the bats of the veteran Ramirez and the youngster Ethier. Next year, the Dodgers are likely to look much different. (Manny Ramirez, Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Russell Martin, James Loney, Matt Kemp, Greg Maddux, Chad Billingsley, and Derek Lowe are all up for contract renegotiation.) Hopefully, Ned Colletti will follow those same instincts he had in 2005 and focus on youth by re-signing Andre Ethier.

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Top 10 Active MLB Control Artists

Show me a pitcher who doesn’t walk many batters, and I’ll show you a pitcher that wins games. Plain and simple, if you don’t hurt yourself by putting guys on base, you’re going to be in games and win a good portion of them. Here, we take a look at those active pitchers with the best control, i.e. those hurlers who yield the least amount of walks per nine innings. Interestingly, the Top 10 consists of all starting pitchers……

1. Carlos Silva, Seattle Mariners (1.634)–Okay, so Carlos Silva has lost more games than he’s won (59-60), but he’s pitching for the pathetic Mariners this year. What I’m saying is, 4-14 for a team that is 46-75 isn’t bad. And check this out…in 2005 with Minnesota, Silva pitched 188 1/3 innings and walked only nine batters. That’s just sick.

2. Jon Lieber, Chicago Cubs (1.725)–Journeyman Jon Lieber has been in the bigs since 1994, and has never walked more than 51 batters in a season. There’s no doubt his career ERA of 4.26 would be much higher if it weren’t for his excellent control.

3. Greg Maddux, San Diego Padres (1.803)–What, you expected not to see Mr. Maddux on here? Control is to Greg Maddux’ game what hot sauce is to Buffalo wings.

4. Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers (1.960)–Sheets has never won more than twelve games in a season, but part of that is because he can’t stay off the disabled list. Sheets has nearly four times as many career strikeouts (1181) as walks (303) in seven-plus seasons.

5. Curt Schilling, Boston Red Sox (1.962)–It’s too bad that if we play word association, I’ll say “Curt Schilling” and you’ll say “bloody sock.” Then again, that also sums up the grit and determination of this guy. If I need to win a game, he’s one of maybe five pitchers I’ll give the ball to.

6. Mike Mussina, New York Yankees (1.987)–If you can see the concentration in a pitcher’s eyes, you know he’s focused on putting the ball over the plate and trying to get the hitter out. And how about this? In 18 seasons, Mussina has only hit 58 batters and thrown 71 wild pitches. Also, his 265-151 career record shows that my theory above has a bit of validity.

7. Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (2.060)–Though he’s only won 117 games in almost nine seasons, Mark Buehrle is a workhorse (has never pitched less than 200 innings in a full season) who keeps his White Sox in games.

8. Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros (2.084)–Do you get the feeling Roy Oswalt hasn’t yet reached his potential? The guy is 122-62 since breaking into the majors in 2001, with a 3.20 ERA and 1286 strikeouts. And his control (360 walks, 16 wild pitches) isn’t too shabby, either.

9. Paul Byrd, Boston Red Sox (2.119)–I’m not sure that Byrd throws harder than 80 miles per hour, but there’s no doubt he can still get hitters out, which is why the Red Sox just obtained him from the Indians. And he gets better with age….in 2005 with the Angels, Byrd walked 28 batters in 204 1/3 — that’s 1.2 batters per game.

10. Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays (2.127)–With a 124-64 record over 11 seasons with mostly mediocre Toronto, Roy Halladay has consistently been one of the game’s best pitchers during his career.

Source: Baseball Reference

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