I think no matter what your job is, Dodgers outfielder or elementary school janitor, if you're uncertain about your future, you may not perform your job at your maximum potential. Major League baseball players, while they may make millions of dollars and could quit and never have to work again, still have concerns about their future and I believe it can affect their game.
Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier was having some hitting issues, which have mysteriously reversed themselves coincidentally right after he signed a $85 million, five-year contract extension. I don't think Ethier is motivated by money, but the change in his stats does show me he was affected by the uncertainty of not knowing whether he was staying and whether the team even wanted him on a long-term basis.
The new deal shows the value he has for the team and the five-year term also shows they want him around for awhile. I like these new longer deals, like the deal the team signed with Matt Kemp. I think with these "new" Dodgers, we're going to see a new dynasty in baseball, like we've seen with the Lakers (except for this year).
Ethier's contract could be even longer, as the Los Angeles Times reported the sixth year will automatically be added not based on performance, but just based on plate appearances. If Ethier has 550 plate appearances in his fifth season, or a total of 1,100 in those last two years of the contract. I don't think this will be hard for him at all, as he's had at least those 550 appearances in his past four seasons. There is a chance he could be traded, as the contract apparently does not have a no-trade clause. If, for some reason, he doesn't hit that 550 plate appearance number, the Dodgers have the option of signing him for that sixth year for a whopping $17.5 million for that year, or can pay him a $2.5 million buyout and be done with it.
I do believe a certain portion of baseball success is mental and players need to be in a positive state of mind to excel. Since the deal, Ethier has gone 6-for-17 with two runs, two RBIs and three walks. Before signing his deal, he went 5-for-38 during the Dodgers' ten-game road trip and had gone almost a month without hitting a homer.
Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia, which didn't make being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan easy. He has lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, now able to follow the Dodgers openly and attends games frequently. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman.
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