Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where could the Dodgers ship unhappy Andre Ethier?

Andre Ethier seems to be telling two stories.

According to what he said to the L.A. Times' T.J. Simers, Ethier thinks the Los Angeles Dodgers keep putting him in their lineup despite a balky knee that's going to need surgery this offseason.

And yet, continuing to play is his decision. That's what he told reporters before Sunday's game against the Colorado Rockies ? in which he was held out of the lineup.

Ethier supposedly wants out of L.A. because he's unhappy over not getting a contract extension, along with the traveshamockery of Frank McCourt's ownership. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is mad about being accused of forcing Ethier to play hurt. And GM Ned Colletti is implying that Ethier is using injury as an excuse for his poor play (.224/.316/.284, one home run, and seven RBIs) since the All-Star break.

L.A. probably isn't going to work out for Ethier, who has one arbitration year left before free agency. So for the two sides to part, a trade needs to happen. Ethier would surely prefer to go to a playoff contender. But wouldn't the Dodgers kind of like to deal him to the baseball equivalent of Siberia for some of his recent behavior? If Colletti were feeling vindictive, where could he exile Ethier?

? Houston Astros: Oh, you'd like to play somewhere else, 'Dre? How about the worst team in baseball, one that's probably not leaving the basement anytime soon. They could use a corner outfielder. Just watch out for Tal's Hill during pregame warmups, too. You might hurt that knee. But hey, they're not the only choice .

? Toronto Blue Jays: Here's where the Dodgers could get a little nasty. Not because the Jays will have a hard upward climb toward contention in the AL East. But because they play their games on artificial turf. Oh, your knee hurts, 'Dre? Try playing on fake grass. This could also apply to the Tampa Bay Rays.

? Chicago Cubs: They have a need for a right fielder on the North Side of Chicago. And with a new GM to come, the Cubs' roster will probably get an overhaul. But the payroll is stuck with a couple of albatross contracts that might handcuff the GM's ability to make the necessary changes. And strange things seem to happen to players' careers once they come to the Cubs. Bad things. Unexplainable things.

? Baltimore Orioles: If Ethier is having problems playing for Mattingly in L.A., how would he get along with Buck Showalter? But he could put up some big numbers trying to compensate for a young pitching staff that took a major step back this year.

? Oakland Athletics: Ethier doesn't like playing in front of small crowds at Dodger Stadium? Get a load of the Coliseum! (Small crowds could also apply to the Florida Marlins.) Even if a decent crowd shows up, how could you tell? Ethier was in the A's system until he was traded for Milton Bradley. Can you go home again, 'Dre?

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