Dodgers Should Just Lock Up Andre Ethier Long Term

Christopher Benvie@CSBenvie81Correspondent IIFebruary 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during batting practice on Opening Day prior to their game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on March 31, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

For the Los Angeles Dodgers, the waves have certainly been high over the past couple of years.  Steering this ship through the rough terrain has been a difficult process and one that hopefully is almost over.

Through it all, the Dodgers have managed to maintain a roster with some of the most exciting talent in Major League Baseball, of course anchored by Matt Kemp.  Obviously Kemp has been the backbone of the franchise in recent years, but another man deserves almost equal gratitude for his efforts.

That man is Andre Ethier.

Ethier has been a mainstay in the Dodgers' lineup since his 2006 rookie year, a year in which he finished fifth overall in NL Rookie of the Year voting (2006 NL ROY voting was riddled with talent:  Hanley Ramirez, Matt Cain, Josh Johnson, Dan Uggla, Ryan Zimmerman... you get the point).

In his six seasons with the Dodgers, Ethier been a vital cog in the Dodgers' offense.  He has finished in the top five in pretty much every offensive category for the team in his tenure, often times either first or second for that matter.

While the Dodgers have locked up Matt Kemp long term (nice little eight year $160 million extension) perhaps they should spread the love over to right field as well.

True, Ethier is two years older than Kemp.  He also managed to sign for $10.95 million heading into 2012.  The fact of the matter is, Ethier deserves J.D. Drew money.  I'm not talking the two year $20.8 million contract Drew had with the Dodgers.

Nope, I'm talking about the five year $70 million deal Drew signed with the Boston Red Sox.

While Drew only played 218 games for the Dodgers, he hit 35 long balls with 136 RBI and put together a batting line that looked like this: .284/.399/.505/.905.  That helped him to get that cool $70 million.

On the flip side, in his six seasons and 854 games with the boys in blue, Ethier has averaged 21 home runs and 85 RBI while putting together a batting line that looks like .291/.364/.479/.843.

Sure, J.D. Drew had Scott Boras as his agent, but smooth talking should be no excuse for stellar play.  Really, has Ethier been anything less than stellar?

If the Dodgers don't make a concerted effort to extend Ethier this season, there is a really strong possibility he'll walk.  In fact, he could follow a similar path as J.D. Drew by taking his talents to Boston to play with his good friend Dustin Pedroia.

Do right by the team and the player; lock up Ethier while you still can.