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Tag Archives: Andre Ethier

photo credit: Yahoo! Sports

photo credit: Yahoo! Sports

Andre Ethier has five walk-off hits this season, including three home runs. He has eight since the beginning of 2008, the most in the majors during that span.

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The Good: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier all had a great series against the Padres. Eric Stults getting another chance to start.

The Bad: Russell Martin, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, and Orlando Hudson didn’t. Hiroki Kuroda getting injured.

The Ugly: Good grief! I know young pitchers struggle with their control, but to see Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald do what they did three games in a row was excruciating. Granted, I figure Billingsley will get it going sooner or later. But as for Kershaw and McDonald? Not the greatest way to start the season.

At some point, both of these guys simply need to trust their ability to pitch and not worry so much. McDonald’s body language belied that of a confident pitcher. He was fidgety, and his mechanics appeared off after he loaded the bases the first time. At some point, you wish Brad Ausmus would’ve gone out there to tell him to slow down, go back to a windup, and just pitch. After all, isn’t his handling of pitchers the reason the Dodgers went with him and not Danny Ardoin as a backup catcher?

It was nice to be able to actually see all of this week’s games, less the the two we missed while on the road. I love it when DirecTV offers a free preview of MLB Extra Innings, and I love it even more when they don’t block you from recording any of the preview games, as they did last year.

Things to look forward to — or should I say, eventual eBay purchases?

How about a Russell Martin MacFarlane figure, and a Manny Ramirez bobblehead.

martin

mannyEven though Manny’s been here less than a year, and probably won’t be here longer than a year and a half, clearly he would get his own bobblehead — not just from the Dodgers but from the Albuquerque Isotopes as well. But Casey Blake? Really, the Dodgers marketing department thought better of giving Blake a bobblehead before, I don’t know, Billingsley, Kemp, Ethier, or Broxton?

Finally, thoughts and prayers to the Adenhart family and the Anaheim Angels. What made that particular tragedy strike particularly close to home was the fact that I had traveled that particular intersection (where Adenhart’s vehicle was struck) many, many times at that same hour, and I still have family in the area that do as well.

Hundreds, if not thousands (sadly) of people die yearly at the hands of such wildly irresponsible drivers such as Andrew Gallo, and we never hear about it. It’s sad and unfortunate that it takes a (semi) celebrity to die for us to even consider talking about the senselessness of not only drunk driving, but a legal system powerless to do anything more than slap a repeat offender on the wrist — which ultimately, what license suspension amounts to.

How ought we fix it? I don’t know, but I wish it didn’t require innocent people dying for the issue to come to the forefront.

Eight cards per pack/24 packs per box
Base set completion: 244 of 500 (48%)

Insert set completion
New Age Performers: 2 of 15 (13%)
Baseball Flashbacks: 2 of 10 (20%)
News Flashbacks: 1 of 10 (10%)
Then and Now: 2 of 10 (20%)
Chrome Parallels: 5 of 100 (5%)

Short Print set completion (426-500): 8 of 75 (11%)

Hits”

millwood

heritage_scans

Impressions

It’s the end of February, so we all know that means it’s time again for Topps Heritage. This year, the very colorful 1960 design is resurrected. I can’t complaing about the design — it stays true to the original.

What I will complain about is the return of lazy Topps photography. Just when you thought Topps had done away with all of their lovely spring training photos, they come back with a vengeance in this year’s iteration of Heritage.

Take a look at card number 5, Andre Ethier

ethier

Clearly a spring training shot, and probably taken at the former Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Does the photo look familiar? It should!

ethier2

Here’s Andre in 2008 Heritage, looking the other direction, but likely standing in the same spot (and with the older version of his signature as well).

ethier3

And here’s his card from the 2008 All-Rookie subset, but with a bat this time. Really Topps, would’ve it been that hard to find good headshots of these guys? I mean, you did it for THIS guy!

laroche

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect example of a good photo to use on a trading card. Happy Andy, enjoying his freedom, and making me think “2009 Heritage is awesome, really.”

This particular box delivered all the advertised insertion (SPs, inserts) ratios, and included the essentially worthless Kevin Millwood gamer. Given that the hits out of this set are essentially pointless, you’d think DACW/Blowout/Charm City would all be selling at MSRP, but no. As of today, their 09 Heritage prices are $15 above MSRP at $80. So unless you can find someone to sell these boxes at MSRP, it’s going to be a pricy go to finish this year’s set.

So other than the usual Topps photography issues, Heritage once again is what Heritage has always been — a set collector’s trammel (STUPID SHORT PRINTS) and treasure all rolled into one.

Hobby Pack (4.99) x5

Pack 1:
6 Vladimir Guererro
41 Lance Berkman
17 Carlos Beltran
AA40 Justin Morneau
Sign of the Times dual AU: Joe Nathan/Billy Wagner #11/75

Pack 2:
28 Jimmy Rollins
40 Carlos Lee
3 Albert Pujols
1 Ken Griffey Jr
AA3 Randy Johnson

Pack 3:
22 Justin Upton
97 Hideki Matsui
8 Eric Chavez
80 Rick Ankiel
AA22 Hanley Ramirez

Pack 4:
69 Justin Morneau
98 Jeff Francoeur
99 Alfonso Soriano
42 Hunter Pence
AA49 Miguel Cabrera

Pack 5:
58 Ben Sheets
66 Erik Bedard
94 Jason Bay
48 Justin Verlander
5 Daisuke Matsuzaka
14 Frank Thomas
AA39 Lance Berkman
138 Rookie Jersey Autograph Johnny Cueto 914/999

Impressions: What a boring-looking card! The players are chopped out of their natural backgrounds and plastered onto an all-white background. I was pretty happy with landing two “hits” in just five packs, although whoever else pulls from this box is going to be pretty disappointed paying approximately $1 per card and getting not much else.

At least it’s a mercifully smaller base set of just 100 cards. An additional 50 rookie jersey autographs make up the rest of the checklist.

And I must quibble with UD once AGAIN choosing Andruw Jones as a Dodger representative (Russell Martin was the other in the base set, with Clayton Kershaw part of the rookie set). Really Upper Deck, there was no one else worth depicting? I don’t know, maybe Derek Lowe or Hiroki Kuroda? Andre Ethier?

I can’t say that I’ve ever thought highly of Derek Lowe, his brilliant signing notwithstanding. As dependable as he’s been the four years he’s been here, there’s just something about the guy that I just don’t like. Nonetheless, he’s been arguably the Dodgers’ best free-agent signing of recent note. He signed a four-year, $32 million deal after being unceremoniously jettisoned by the 2004 WS Champion Red Sox — this after pitching well in the clinching games of the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series.

Former GM Paul DePodesta was 100% right about Lowe — this groundball specialist would thrive at Dodger Stadium, and even signed him to a very modest contract to boot.

Lots to love about Lowe, statistically speaking. Outside the lines, he’s been a grade-A scumbag. He divorced the mother of his children, whom he left behind on the east coast, so that he could continue his affair with former FSN West reporter Carolyn Hughes, and bemoaned (along with Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez) management’s choice to hold on to the “kids” in 2007 in lieu of trading them away for a trade-deadline rental.

Haven’t heard much of Lowe this year, which incidentally, is a contract year for him. Either he’s happy that so many of his 2004 Red Sox teammates are now Dodgers (Nomar, Manny, advisor to the GM Bill Mueller), or he knows he needs to keep his trap shut and avoid controversy considering he’s old (2009 will be his 36-year-old season) and probably still wants another multi-year deal.

That said, given the Dodgers’ offensive malaise — whole lot of change Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake did for the team — it’s surprising that he was so forgiving of the their inability to score recently. After yesterday’s loss to the 39 games under .500 Nationals, Lowe had this to say:

“I think, in this game, trying harder normally doesn’t get you anywhere, and I think that’s such a hard thing to fight,” he said. “You can’t give 110 percent. I think that’s where we are. There’s no lack of preparation, there’s no such thing as guys not trying. I think, as a collective group, sometimes you’ve got to try less to get more.

Knowing how quick everyone involved with the Dodgers has been willing to betray and blame Ethier/Kemp/Loney/Martin … I mean, their teammates for everything under the sun, it’s a little refreshing to hear Lowe not blame anyone.

In the end though, blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Ned Colletti. There’s a reason why the Dodgers are a singles-hitting team that relies heavily on a high BABIP, and will be in for epic failure when their BABIP falls as it has recently. That reason is Ned Colletti. Ned spent $57 million on Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Nomar, Jason Schmidt, and Rafael Furcal. The only one of that bunch that’s doing anything remotely productive is Andruw, and that’s solely because he’s been banished to Triple-A and not wasting a roster spot. (Okay, neither are Furcal and Schmidt).

Pierre and Nomar (not to mention Mark Sweeney, Pablo Ozuna, and Angel Berroa) continue to soak up valuable playing time, thus further delaying the advancement of players such as Delwyn Young, Chin-Lung Hu, and Ivan DeJesus — players who may actual be useful for the Dodgers.

Rather than use the money (or their minor leaguers) to acquire useful players such as Manny, or Adam Dunn, whom the Reds essentially gave away, the Dodgers waste their “stock” on retreads such as Casey Blake and Greg Maddux.

And then they cobble together a roster that has no punch aside from Kemp, Ethier, and Manny. So is it any surprise that a singles-hitting team can’t do anything other than hit singles?

Mr. Grumpy, as related to T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times:

“Scully is making the same point everyone else is making,” I said. “He says the stats indicate you are having success hitting behind Ramirez — tell me that isn’t the case.”

“I’m 40. You don’t get better when you are 40.”

What Kent is getting at is that just about everyone, the erstwhile Vin Scully included, is suggesting that Kent’s resurgence over the last three weeks has been solely the result of hitting in the 3-hole ahead of Manny. The idea is that pitchers have been serving Kent a steady diet of fastballs, because Manny is waiting in the on-deck circle.

The problem with that logic? What reasonable pitcher is going to extend the effort to put Kent on base? Wouldn’t giving Kent pitches to hit mean that he’s far more likely to get on base, and you know, present an RBI opportunity for Manny?

Furthermore, the idea of “batter protection” is largely false. Take a look at the links provided here. There isn’t conclusive data to suggest that a good hitter batting behind you increases the likelihood you’ll see better pitches. In fact, the opposite is much truer. The pitcher is far more likely to extend his effort to get the preceding batter out in order not to provide the “protecting” hitter with an RBI opportunity. It’s completely illogical to suggest that Kent is all of a sudden seeing a steady diet of fastballs now that he has Manny to “protect” him.

What is logical is to suggest that Kent was due, and he’s finally producing at the most opportune time — with an even bigger hitter behind him and two big hitters (Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier) in front of him. Just prior to the Manny deal, Kent had been smoking the ball, but was finding fielders’ gloves instead of the holes. I don’t have splits showing this exact time period, but if you’ll look here, you’ll see that Kent’s BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and LD% (line drive percentage), indicators of how “lucky” or “unlucky” a hitter is — Kent was extremely unlucky prior to the trade — have come come closer to Kent’s career norms.

So for once, I agree with Jeff Kent. His resurgence has nothing to do with Manny. And anyone watching the Dodgers had to know that Kent was starting to warm up long before Manny was in the picture. But don’t count on ESPN, the LA Times, or anyone else to bother looking into that.

But Kent was dead wrong when he said this of Vin Scully:

“Vin Scully talks too much,” Kent said.

“We all love you, Vin,” Kent added with a mischievous grin, “but you still talk too much.”

Vin might have been wrong about Kent and Manny’s “protection,” but I’ll take Vin’s play-by-play a million times before I willfully listen to any of the other hacks out there.

Case in point — yesterday’s TBS broadcast of the Dodgers/Brewers game was presumably a national broadcast, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the excitement in Chip Caray’s voice when the Brewers mounted their 9th inning rally.

I mean really, look at them! Who doesn’t want to see this sort of thing? Who says the Dodger rookies are a bunch of me-first jerkfaces? What did YOU do today, Mr. Grumpy Second Baseman?

On a serious note, today’s game was historic — it was the first game in which a Dodger hit a HR on both the first and last pitch of the game.

It was frustrating losing the two games in San Francisco last weekend, as well as last night’s against the Brewers. Had the Dodgers not blown late leads in those three games, today’s win would’ve capped an 11-game win streak. They would’ve been 67-57, three games ahead of Arizona. Oh, to what could’ve been.

Since July 31

Andre Ethier: 2 plate appearances, 1 hit, 1 walk.

Juan Pierre: 13 plate appearances, 4 hits, 0 walks.

On the year:

Andre Ethier: .781 OPS, 11 HR, 46 RBI

Juan Pierre: .644 OPS, .298 OBP as a leadoff hitter.

“To me, Juan certainly deserves the right to play.”

“When [Rafael] Furcal went down, he’s meant so much to the club. He brings another dimension, his basestealing ability. He gives a professional at-bat on a regular basis. He’s done it [leading off] longer than Matt. He’s willing to take pitches.”

– Joe Torre

Matt Kemp, as a leadoff hitter: .402 OBP, .931 OPS

Pitches per plate appearance: Kemp 3.75, Pierre 3.75, Ethier 4.17

That’s a whole lot of funny math going on Joe Torre’s head. Either that, or he’s completely full of crap, and is head over heels in love with Juan Pierre, much to the team’s detriment. What’s the point of keeping one of your best outfielders if you’re not going to play him?

Mr. LaRoche finally has his freedom. I don’t know if he’ll be anything more than he is now. Regardless, this is yet another example of the mindlessness of the Dodger front office.

Dodger problems:

– J.D. Drew leaves for greener pastures (and honestly, do you blame him?)

– In response, Ned signs an aging, over-the-hill Luis Gonzalez, and outbids his old boss for Juan Pierre, at the bargain basement price of 5/45.

– Gonzo whines about the kids being better than him and taking his PT, and Juan Pierre is, well, Juan Pierre.

– Looking to address the fact that Juan Pierre is Juan Pierre, Ned signs Andruw Jones to 2/36 and moves Slappy McPopup to LF.

– Andre Ethier blisters the crap out of the ball in spring training, forcing them to play him.

– Joe Torre plays Slappy anyway.

– Fat Andruw sucks on a historic level, and Slappy is still Slappy. Meanwhile, Ethier and Matt Kemp are quietly the team’s best two OF.

– Hoping to address Fat Andruw’s historic suckiness, the Dodgers trade away Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris for Manny Ramirez, forgetting that Manny’s gone after this year, and so are Casey Blake, Nomar, and Jeff Kent — meaning there’ll be vacancies at 2B, SS, 3B, and LF. And there’s no one left to fill the vacancy at 3B, since you know, Andy LaRoche is gone. I suppose Blake DeWitt and Ivan DeJesus/Chin-Lung Hu can take over at 2B and SS, respectively, but do you really think Joe “I had Tony Womack DH and Miguel Cairo at 1B, not to mention am convinced that Slappy’s .299 OBP is evidence he ‘knows how to lead off'” Torre is really going to hand over the reins to the kids?

For all the hand-wringing about the “Dodger Way,” it doesn’t appear that Ned is interested in following it. That is, unless, the “Dodger Way” is loading up on marginally useful veterans with ridiculous contracts and tossing aside useful resources (i.e. pre-arbitration youngsters) like yesterday’s garbage.

Time will tell whether or not Manny for LaRoche is another Delino for Pedro or another Shaw for Konerko. But do you really expect this one to turn out well for the Dodgers? Two months, max, of Manny’s HOF bat — yes, that’s a great thing. But will it make that big of a difference for them down the stretch? How many more wins is he worth? Two, three, maybe five? Will that even be enough to catch the Diamondbacks? And if they do, what happens in the playoffs?

The Dodgers traded six cost-controlled years of LaRoche & Morris for two months of Manny. Adding Manny makes themĀ  better for sure, but I’d say anything short of an NL pennant would make this trade a disaster for the Dodgers, considering how many more holes they’ve now created.

More than that, it displays a commitment not to the continued long-term success of the team, but a dependency on win-now thinking. It demonstrates that the Dodgers are more than willing to impede the progress of their own players, so long as they dominate the headlines. And it can’t be more than headlines, especially considering the really, marginal difference Manny will make. Is there anyone who thinks the Dodgers make this deal if the Angels hadn’t acquire Mark Teixeira the day before?

It shows a commitment not to the vague notion of the “Dodger Way,” which I presume to be developing your own stars, but rather, a commitment to whatever the flavor of the moment is. The Dodgers suffered through this same thinking under Fred Claire and Kevin Malone, and it’s apparent things still haven’t changed under Ned’s control.

Well, now that Andy’s free, it’s time to set the sights on getting Andre Ethier off the bench.