Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Ethier, Kemp Odd Men Out?

Buster Olney of breaks down why the Dodgers are dangling both Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier out there--and in his mind, it's not just fixing a crowded outfield; it's also about getting value in return (link insider only):

The first part of the plan was to significantly improve the Los Angeles Dodgers immediately, to turn them into a contender immediately, to the alter perception of them immediately. Cost be damned. These were the first broad strokes, because the Dodgers' new ownership was thinking big picture, and assumed that inefficiencies along the way would be overwhelmed by the forthcoming television contract and an overwhelming response of fans.

So in the first 19 months since Frank McCourt was bought out, the Dodgers saw their attendance increase by more than 25 percent in one year, their season-ticket sales rocket upward, and they had a shot at winning their first World Series since 1988. Some of L.A.'s deal-making for expensive veteran players has confused an industry of value-counters who loathe the idea of an overpay, but the perspective of the Dodgers' ownership has been: Why worry about millions when there are billions in potential at stake?

Now the Dodgers can work in earnest on the finer points, on rebuilding their farm system, on using the massive stack of chips to create a deep, well-designed roster -- a younger roster. This is part of the reason why the Dodgers have indicated a willingness to absorb some salary in order to move Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp.

This is not about a salary dump, or about the discomfort of having four front-line outfielders -- Ethier, Kemp, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig -- for three spots. This will be about dangling players who might fetch some decent prospect return, depending on how much money the Dodgers eat, and have pieces that fit together better.

The Dodgers will probably have a better chance of moving Ethier than Kemp, given the injuries that Kemp has sustained in recent seasons, to his left shoulder and ankle. Kemp hasn't started running yet in the wake of his latest injury, but they believe there is a better than 50-50 shot he'll be able to do so by the start of spring training.

But while Kemp was limited to 73 games last season, Ethier played in 142, posting a .783 OPS while accumulating 47 extra-base hits. Ethier has played his home games in the thick night layer that helps to turn Dodger Stadium into a really good pitcher's park, and interested teams will consider this number: Last year, Ethier hit .311 in road games, with an .885 OPS.

He has been a good player, and in a market in which Jacoby Ellsbury will command $100 million (or more), and Shin-Soo Choo seeks something close to that, Ethier could be more attractive, if the Dodgers eat some of the $69 million he is owed and turn him into a $10 million-$13 million a year player.

The Dodgers will seriously consider moving either Ethier or Kemp, if they can get younger and improve their roster, and a trade of Ethier or Kemp will allow them to push prospect Joc Pederson, who is a pure center fielder, something that neither Ethier nor Kemp probably is now at this stage in their respective careers.

This is a tough one because I like both players, but I agree that both have been plagued by injuries and streakiness / unfulfilled potential, during the course of their Dodger careers. We probably don't need both, however, especially with Pederson in the wings. Wonder which one will be on the roster come March 2014?


Dusty Baker said...

I would actually say that Ethier came close to fulfilling his potential, if not even exceeding it. It's just that his potential wasn't to be, say, Willie Mays. I'd argue that he played at a high level for several years, and that was the sweet spot of potential, success, and peak performance length. He did give us some great years, a shitload of doubles, key homers and all those walk off, clutch wins.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

So you are saying that he has reached the other side of the hill?
I'm good with that.

Neeebs (The Original) said...

So you are saying that he has reached the other side of the hill?
I'm good with that.