|With new management, Ethier says it's an exciting time to be a Dodger. (US Presswire)|
In some ways, Andre Ethier is the best example of everything that has changed with the Dodgers.
A year ago, the team was a McCourt mess, and the talk was that Ethier wasn't happy and wanted out.
Now, the team is a Magic miracle, and a very happy Ethier just signed on for five more years and $85 million.
Last year, he was saying he only wanted to stay in Los Angeles if "the organization is moving in the right direction."
Last week, when I saw him in Philadelphia, Ethier said, "There is more of a commitment now and for the long term. It's an exciting time for players -- and even more for the fans."
The change in ownership is the most obvious reason for the change, but not the only one. General manager Ned Colletti and his staff did a good job of picking low-cost additions last winter, and manager Don Mattingly has set the perfect tone in the clubhouse.
"I've been saying since spring training that this is the best clubhouse we've had in my seven years here," Ethier said.
What's interesting about the Dodgers' fine team chemistry is that it didn't develop just when they started winning. Ethier and others said that it was there from the start in spring training, somewhat surprising for a team that had quite a few additions over the winter.
"It's a tight-knit ballclub," first-base coach Davey Lopes said.
Ethier obviously likes it, so much so that he said he hopes Colletti will be careful about what players he adds at the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Colletti wants to add both another hitter (the Dodgers looked at Kevin Youkilis, but weren't overly impressed) and a starting pitcher (Ryan Dempster is the big name mentioned).
Assuming it's the right guy, Ethier loves the idea of adding another big hitter to a lineup that has been a little weak (besides him) with Matt Kemp on the disabled list.
"Obviously, whether it's this July or in the offseason, we need to add another bat," he said last week.
First, though, they had to make sure they kept the bat they had.
The way things have changed with the Dodgers, that was much easier than it would have seemed a year ago.