Dodgers star signs a massive new contract


Dodgers star signs a massive new contract

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers signed outfielder Andre Ethier to an 85 million, five-year deal through 2017 on Tuesday, keeping him and Matt Kemp together in the middle of the lineup. It's the team's first major move under a new ownership group that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson. The new deal includes salaries of 13.5 million for next year, 15.5 million for 2014, 18 million each for 2015 and 2016 and 17.5 million for 2017. The Dodgers have a 17.5 million option for 2018 with a 2.5 million buyout, and Ethier's 2018 salary could become guaranteed based on plate appearances in 2017 or 2016-17 combined. The option vests with 1,100 plate appearances in 2016-17 combined or 550 plate appearances in 2017. If the option does not vest and is declined, a buyout is payable on Jan. 15, 2018. Ethier avoided arbitration last winter, agreeing to a 10.95 million contract for this season. He could have tested free agency at season's end. "I knew there were options at the end of the day, but why look at them when the best option is here?" he said. "A friend of mine said a couple weeks ago, You were meant to play here and you wouldn't play good anywhere else,'" he said. "That kind of rang true and let me think what's the purpose of holding out a few more months?" General manager Ned Colletti and new President and CEO Stan Kasten joined Ethier at a news conference overlooking the field at Dodger Stadium. Manager Don Mattingly, along with All-Star slugger Matt Kemp and pitcher Javy Guerra were there. Ethier's wife, Maggie, the couple's two young sons, who wore their dad's No. 16 jersey, and his parents also attended. "We signed Matt last winter and now we've signed Andre long-term, which to me says basically that you want to get better as an organization looking forward," Mattingly said. "These two guys are our cornerstones, so it makes a commitment to the fans. Right now, Dre's in a good spot and his teammates care about him." Ethier leads the National League with 53 RBIs. The 30-year-old right fielder is a two-time All-Star who is batting .287 with 10 home runs going into Tuesday night's game against the Angels. He's been with the team for six seasons, winning a Silver Slugger award in 2009 and a Gold Glove award last year. "He's part of the core, part of what we're trying to build on," Colletti said. "You got to keep guys like that around. If you believe in your core guys and you develop them, it's tough to replace guys like that." Colletti, who rarely does deals during the season, said he told all of the team's prospective owners that signing Ethier to a long-term deal was a priority if they were to take control of the team. "These owners aren't messing around with making this team and stadium the best it can be," Ethier said. He said Kasten talked to him two weeks ago about the ownership group's plans for the team. "Obviously, that set my mind at ease," Ethier said. "I knew things were going to get better around here no matter what." Last season, Ethier had a 30-game hitting streak and batted .292 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs before having left knee surgery in September. Colletti said he doesn't expect the deal to affect Ethier's future performance. "He's proven himself over the long haul," he said. "It gives him a sense of knowing how we feel." Colletti flew to Ethier's offseason home in Arizona to meet with him in December, when both sides let each other know he wanted to remain in Los Angeles. The deal couldn't get going until last month because of the ownership transition, but it took just a couple weeks to get one. "In season you can't let it drag or it's a perilous time of year to be doing it," Colletti said. In November, the Dodgers signed Kemp to a 160 million, eight-year deal that equaled the seventh-highest contract in baseball history. That was the team's last major deal under former owner Frank McCourt. It is the richest agreement in club history, topping pitcher Kevin Brown's 105 million, seven-year deal before the 1999 season. Kemp is currently on the disabled list for the second time this season, although the Dodgers have maintained the best record in baseball. Ethier and Kemp anchor the Dodgers' defense, with Ethier in center and Kemp in right. "They've got a quiet competitiveness and great respect for one another," Colletti said. Ethier added, "I can look up and know where Matty's at most of the time. You don't see that often in baseball where two guys can do it defensively as well as being at the same level offensively." Ethier and Kemp's relationship dates back to when they played on the same Arizona Fall League team, although Ethier belonged to the Oakland Athletics and Kemp was with the Dodgers. "It's unbelievable to know I'm going to get the chance to play by his side for the next five years," Ethier said. "Me and Matty know we have to go out there and do our thing. When you start adding other key guys it definitely does allow everyone around you to play better baseball." Ethier said he knew from the start of spring training that good things were in store for the team after the last few years of turbulence under McCourt. "You could definitely tell by the way this group came together this spring," he said. "By far this is the best clubhouse and best group of guys in the seven years I've been here. I want to give them a lot of credit for the start we've had and the start I've had." Ethier also gets use of a luxury suite at the stadium eight times per season for community and charity work in the Los Angeles area.

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Redskins running back Robert Kelley likely to get more carries Sunday

Redskins running back Robert Kelley likely to get more carries Sunday

The Redskins are about to find out what Robert Kelley can do and if their gamble to stay in-house at the running back position is going to pay off.

Whether Matt Jones is able to play on Sunday against the Bengals or not, it seems inevitable that Kelley, the undrafted rookie out of Tulane, will get a lot of carries. His career high in rushing attempts in a game is five. If Jones doesn’t play, Kelley could surpass that total in the first quarter. Jay Gruden said that Kelley, not Chris Thompson, will get the lead back role.

“You know, Chris has such an important role as far as third downs and his specialty role that we need him in that role and he’s not a very big guy,” Gruden said. “We don’t want to give him the ball 35 times between the tackles, you know? We’d like to have a more physical guy do that. Chris is going to get plenty of touches without a doubt but if Matt can’t go it’ll be mainly Chris and obviously Robert.”

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Even if Jones can go, his knee injury and his fumbling problems are likely to reduce his normal workload. Some of his carries are likely to go to Kelley.

While many would like to see what Kelley can do in extended action there is no way of knowing how effective he may be. It is something of a crapshoot. Kelley is averaging an impressive 6.1 yards per carry, but that number is inflated by 45-yard run against the Eagles. Still, 21 of his 31 carries have gone for five yards or longer. If he can get five or more on two out of three carries and protect the football on Sunday the coaches will be very happy.

One person with a vested interest in seeing Kelley succeed is Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan. All offseason, fans and many in the media were asking where the veteran running back was. Few thought it would be wise to go into the season with just Jones, who is in his second season and his first as a starter, and Thompson, who has just one full season in the third-down role.

But no veteran running back was signed, and the job as the third running back went to Kelley. If he can handle the role then McCloughan’s strategy will be vindicated. If not, the GM will have some egg on his face as he searches for an acceptable alternative to Jones.

MUST SEE: Redskins gets quizzed on British culture before London game

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Prospect report: Two Caps prospects earn invites to international tournaments

Prospect report: Two Caps prospects earn invites to international tournaments

Hershey update: 1-2-2-0, 6th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-0-2-0

The Hershey Bears earned their first win of the season and took points from all three of their games this week. Defenseman Colby Williams also registered his first career professional point with an assist in Hershey’s win over Bridgeport on Saturday.

Defenseman Madison Bowey continues to standout on both ends of the ice with a goal and an assist, but there remain aspects of his game in which he needs to improve.

Check out Bowey’s highlights from the team’s loss to Hartford on Wednesday:

Though he may not have registered any points, Bowey’s stickhandling talent is on full display. He also made a great play defensively as he swept a puck off the goal line behind Joe Cannata in the first period.

What you can also see, however, is that Bowey is prone to making some horrible turnovers. This can happen when players in the minors get overconfident. There’s no question whether Bowey will make it to the NHL, the only question is when. He’s clearly one of the most talented players on the roster in Hershey. Sometimes, players can reach a point in their development in which they become overconfident in their talent and it leads to sloppy mistakes.

Speaking of which, forward Jakub Vrana was a surprise healthy scratch for Hershey’s game Sunday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Vrana had a disappointing preseason with the Caps and showed that he needed to work on his puck distribution. He has two goals already this season, but his development bears watching.

Goalie Vitek Vanecek appears to be adjusting well to the AHL game. On Sunday in only his third career AHL start, Vanecek turned aside 33 of the 35 shots he faced. The only goals came on a deflection and on a penalty shot in overtime. You can see his highlights from the game here:

This game also featured Nathan Walker’s first goal of the season. The young Aussie plays a very physical style which, given his size, would make you believe he has very little chance of ever making the NHL. Yet, he showed he could go toe-to-toe with NHL players in the preseason and goals like the one he scored Sunday provide further proof that he will not get pushed around should the Caps ever have need of his services.

For an inside look at what it’s like to play for Hershey, check out this piece on Chocolate Hockey written by Caps prospect and Bears captain Garrett Mitchell.


Other prospect notes:

Goalie Ilya Samsonov has had an impressive start to the season in the KHL registering a 2.26 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. His performance has earned him a spot on Team Russia’s roster as announced Wednesday for the U20 Four-Nation Tournament held in Gothenburg, Sweden. The tournament will take place Nov. 4-6.

Another Caps prospect will participate in an international tournament as defenseman Connor Hobbs will play for Team WHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series.

The Canada Russia Series is an annual tournament in which Russian junior players play teams composed of players from each of the three junior leagues of the Canadian Hockey League (WHL, OHL and QMJHL). The series will consist of six games with each Canadian league playing two games. Team WHL will play on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

Adam Carlson played in his first professional game on Tuesday as he started for the South Carolina Stingrays in a game against the Wichita Thunder. The Stingrays lost, but Carlson played well with 26 saves on 28 shots (the third goal was an empty-netter).

North Dakota is ranked No. 1 among college teams in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine college hockey poll and Caps prospect Shane Gersich is a major reason why. In their two wins this week, Gersich scored one goal and three assists.

Check out the highlights from North Dakota’s win over Bemidji State on Saturday in which Gersich registered three points.

Chase Priskie of Quinnipiac was the recipient of a dangerous hit last week that left him bleeding from a gash in his forehead. He did not play in either of his team’s games last week and his status still remains unclear.