Updating previous items, the Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch reports the Los Angeles Dodgers have named outfielder Andre Ethier as the starter in left field. He had battled with veteran outfielder Juan Pierre throughout spring training but outperformed him offensively while also bringing a stronger throwing arm to the table. According to Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, the designation is for opening day only and is subject to change over the course of the season due to performance or injury issues.
Ethier finished with a .377 average, six home runs and 18 RBIs in spring play. Last year, he hit .284 with 13 home runs, 64 RBIs and 50 runs in 447 at-bats over 153 games, although he didn't have any steals and was caught stealing four times. He had somewhat similar numbers in his rookie season back in 2006 in 396 at-bats, although he hit .308 and stole five bases that year.
In contrast, Pierre finished the spring with a .188 average and a .247 on-base percentage. The speedy veteran, who hit .293 last year while stealing 64 bases, is in the second year of a five-year deal. He was originally brought aboard to play center field, but those plans changed when the Dodgers signed outfielder Andruw Jones as a free agent in the offseason.
Ethier's fantasy value obviously increases while Pierre's declines. Ethier is not going to swipe 50-plus bags like Pierre is capable of, but Ethier should provide better across-the-board production in multiple categories and is a viable outfield option in all fantasy formats. Pierre may not be happy about the situation, but acting as a malcontent will not help his cause. He should still draw a fair number of starts and makes a great late-inning pinch-runner with his speed, but he really only has use in NL-only formats at this time. His value would increase if he were traded, but there are no indications that the Dodgers plan to pursue that avenue at this time.
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