Dodgers acquire Andre Ethier from Athletics for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez
Depending on your point of view, Billy Beane is either a chump or a genius.
"Billy-is-a-chump"ists will say that the Dodgers acquired the 6th best prospect in the Texas League for an arbitration bound malcontent who can't stay healthy and a failed infield prospect. "Billy-ball-washers" for lack of a more vulgar term, will say that the A's took advantage of Ned Colletti's mandate to trade Bradley to pick up two major-league ready players for a questionable outfield prospect. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Ethier should be a fine outfielder, although scout hounds wonder if he'll develop the power to be a force at the outfield corners. He hit .319/.385/.497 in the Texas League (AA); the plate discipline is okay, but the sub-200 ISO is troublesome for a developing corner outfielder. He will likely need a full year at AAA before being called up to the show for good. He should be part of an impressive wave of prospects that will make the 2007-2009 Los Angeles team a force in the NL West.
Milton Bradley's off-field problems are well known. Suffice to say that Oakland is betting that these issues won't diminish his tremendous ability to play baseball. A fully healthy Bradley could be expected to hit .300/.380//.500; in reality, he won't probably won't come close to these numbers. Whether he fully recovers from the knee surgery that ended his 2005 remains to be seen - and how will he react when David Forst, the Athletics' assistant GM, beats his brains in during arbitration hearings?. Bradley will likely play right field for the Athletics, giving them three centerfielders in the outfield and adding to what projects to be a strong overall defense. Conspiracy theorists will suggest that Oakland is looking to deal one of Payton, Kotsay, or Bradley to the loser of the Johnny Damon sweepstakes.
That the A's got Antonio Perez is certainly a plus. He will probably be a backup infielder with on-base abilities (.360 OBP in the minors, .353 in the majors). Why the Dodgers included Antonio Perez is beyond me: according to Mychael Urban of MLB.com, the deal on the table at the Winter Meetings was Kirk Saarloos and Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley (I had also heard a similar iteration of the deal with Mario Ramos substituted for Ethier). The Dodgers would have done themselves a favor had they jumped on that offer. Instead, they elected to wait as the Cubs and Pirates showed interest.
For some reason that we'll never know, the Cubs and Pirates were not able to put together satisfactory packages and the Dodgers eventually consummated their trade with Oakland. By the time the trade was completed, however, the Dodgers had included Antonio Perez and the A's removed Kirk Saarloos.
05 Dec 2005
Dodgers get: Kirk Saarloos, Mario Ramos or Andre Ethier
Athletics get: Milton Bradley
13 Dec 2005
Dodgers get: Andre Ethier
Athletics get: Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez
What happened, Mr. Colletti? I can't recall the last time a minor leaguer - a AA, non-blue chip minor leaguer, nonetheless - was traded for two major-league ready players. I'm calling this trade a win for the A's from a strictly talent perspective. To ignore the off-field issues would be silly, but this is obviously a calculated risk on Beane's part.
For the Dodgers, they receive a prospect who is almost sure to contribute to what should be a very solid 2007 squad. For next year, the big question is who will join JD Drew and Jose Cruz, Jr. in the 2006 outfield? The right acquisition (?) could make them NL West favorites.
The most important lesson for AL West fans is that Oakland's "rebuilding" project is over. When the A's get rid of a high-level prospect for a player with one- or two- years of arbitration eligibility, you can be sure that they are gunning for the playoffs.