Tag Archives: James Loney

DONATE NOW AND GET A BOBBLEHEAD (read post)

OK, here’s the deal.
I have bobbleheads.  I want you to donate to the kickstarter (see here) to help fund our scientific study in subtle racism.  We’re 400 dollars short of our goal.  Here’s what we’re gonna do.

If you donate 35 dollars, you get the manuscript, a thank you in the publication and your choice of a bobblehead from the list below. If you’ve already donated at least 20 dollars, please donate an additional 30 dollars.

After you donate, send a message to me via kickstarter saying “My name is John Doe, my address is 123 Fake Street, Amhurst, Mass., 12345, and I’d like the James Loney bobblehead.” THIS IS ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS and I’ll be updating the list as bobbleheads are claimed.

Your bobbleheads:

-Andre Ethier

-James Loney x3

-Russell Martin

-PIRATES GREAT Kip Wells

Oliver Perez, Pirates

-Kevin Stevens, Pittsburgh Penguins

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Filed under MLB, MLB history, Scorekeeping

Counterpoints: Uribe Will Stay, Loney Will Go?

There’s two counterpoints to the last post.

First is about Juan Uribe. Uribe is expensive, but plays the three positions that the Dodgers have serious needs in: 2B, SS and 3B. His positional flexibility makes him very important and thus less likely to be traded. So get used to that.

Second is about James Loney. Someone pointed out to me that Loney is more than likely to be traded this year because Sands can play 1B and Trayvon Robinson can fill the outfield (along with Xavier Paul or another replacement player), if both are capable of playing every day.

Again, money is in the driver’s seat here and Uribe will likely make almost twice as much as Loney, but depth-wise, it makes more sense to do trade Loney and keep Uribe.

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Filed under Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

In Praise of Loney

Like I said in the mid-season review, I’ve been hating on James Loney a bit, but it’s time to give him some recognition.

James Loney leads the majors this year in line drive percentage. Hitting line drives is a great skill and can sometimes be misleading–some players, like Chone Figgins, David Wright or Todd Helton, have made great careers out of a high LD% while others like Garrett Atkins or Freddy Sanchez can have one great season because their LD% skyrocketed for one year and dropped down to career rates again.

Loney’s year so far has been decent and he’s seen only a reasonable spike in his BABIP, as opposed to Austin Jackson‘s dizzying high .422 BABIP. Big Game James’ career average for LD% is 22.5, so likely he’s benefiting from a little bit of luck, but 22.5% is still a very high, praise-worthy LD%.

LD% also explains, to an extent, why Loney has struggled with home runs at Dodger Stadium. Line drive hitters’ home run numbers are usually heavily influenced by park factors (remember the David Wright article?) and when you see Dodger Stadium’s park factor is still in the bottom of the league, it’s not a real wonder why.

Well, here’s to Loney, anyway. Cheers, James.

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Filed under Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

Dodger Trade Rumors Popping Up Now

From MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Speaking of Lee, Seattle is telling clubs that they want young hitters in return for the ace. It’s a desire that could be a hurdle for several interested clubs. The Mets, for example, wouldn’t part with Ike Davis in order to land the hurler on a rental. Meanwhile, the Dodgers wouldn’t want to give up Matt Kemp or James Loney.
  • Rosenthal adds that the Dodgers may have a hard time landing the elite starter that they seek. The Astros are looking for financial relief and top prospects in return for Roy Oswalt. Pulling off a deal for Dan Haren of the Diamondbacks could prove to be difficult as Arizona likely doesn’t want to trade him within the division.

Just before that, Rosenthal said the Twins could be major players in the Lee sweepstakes. Trading for Dan Haren is intriguing. Mets sound like the smartest landing spot for Lee, they’ve been more free-wheeling in regards to giving up prospects and have the ones most prepared for the majors in Ike Davis. They could just as easily go for Haren, though, which would be awesome since CitiField is good for flyball pitchers and Haren’s been burned all season on the HR/FB ratio.

I guess Oswalt just won’t go anywhere.

As we’re nearing the deadline, it looks like the Dodgers are less and less likely to make a deal for a top-tier starter. The biggest move the Dodgers make sounds most likely to be for another relief pitcher, which wouldn’t be bad–the bullpen does need help.

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Filed under Hot stove, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

Looking Back on the Sherrill-Bell 2009 Deadline Trade

Jordan at OrioleProspects.com and I have been sharing thoughts on the 2009 trade deadline trade between the Dodgers and Orioles that sent George Sherrill to Los Angeles for prospects Josh Bell and Steven Johnson.

Here are my thoughts.  You can read his thoughts here.

Outcome Bias.  It’s a real thing.  It happens all the time.  Your perspective of something changes because of the end result.  Player A, who is not good, is traded for Player B, who is bad.  Player B performs inexplicably well and Player A continues to perform not good.  The fans of Player B’s new team gloat about the trade and the fans of Player A’s new team scowl and curse the trade and all management involved.

Thoughts at the time of the trade

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Filed under Looking Back, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, prospects

CRUCIAL SERIES FOR DODGERS; THEY MUST WIN

Not really.

The Dodgers are visiting the Nats (April 23-25) and the Mets (April 26-28) before coming home to play a four-game series with the Pirates (April 29-May 2).  That May 2 game against the Pirates will conclude a 6,000-mile road trip and a streak of 13 games played in 13 days.  Yeesh.

Better to face Washington and Pittsburgh now before they both start bringing up their future stars (Strasburg and Alvarez should be up before the season is over), so that’s fine.  Just maybe if they didn’t have such a long trip … would’ve been nice.

Just a bit of perspective on the start of the season:

-Matt Kemp is on a TEAR.  A .735 slugging and a .405 on-base have him ripping through opponents.  He’s gotten two “just enough” home runs, but hit-tracker says he’s averaging 399 feet on homers, so they’re all legit. Last year, he led the league with four “lucky” home runs.  Maybe a sign of improved strength and contact?

-In fact, the whole offense is doing amazingly well right now. By OPS+:

Russell Martin: 141
James Loney: 90
Blake Dewitt: 88
Rafael Furcal: 134
Casey Blake: 118
Manny Ramirez: 209
Matt Kemp: 198
Andre Ethier: 208

Good lord that’s a powerful outfield.  Obviously they’re not gonna keep this up, but what a great start.

-Dylan Hernandez announced on twitter Manny is going on the 15-day DL and Xavier Paul is up in his place.  I imagine this means more time for Reed Johnson with Garrett Anderson filling in once every couple of days and Paul coming in as a defensive replacement. I kinda like Johnson and want to see him get a good shot in Manny’s absence.

-At the start of the year, pitching was supposed to be a problem, but not this bad.  Everyone’s favorite boating enthusiast Chad Billingsley and 1880s carpet bagger George Sherrill are off to bad starts while Ramon Ortiz, Russ Ortiz, Charlie Haeger and Vicente Padilla have all been worse than expected–and the expectations were pretty low to begin with.  The offense is good enough to get around that for the foreseeable future, but the doom-and-gloom predictors are smiling right now.

-James Loney is currently posting a slugging worse than he posted last year.  ……..

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Can Dodgers afford to be patient with Loney?

I’m not gonna put a pretty picture on this.  James Loney put up a sub-.400 slugging percentage last season.

To put that into perspective, there have been 216 seasons of first basemen with more than 502 plate appearances between 2000 and 2009.  The median slugging percentage is .500.  Ryan Garko, despite being such a sub-par hitter for the position, has put up a better SLG% every year of his career than Loney put up last year. Only 16 first basemen since 2000 have had a sub-.400 slugging that (min. 502 AB), Loney and Aubrey Huff were the two to do it in 2009.  Loney did it in the second-most plate appearances (651), with Darin Erstad’s horrendous .371 slugging in 663 plate appearances in 2005 beating him.

Yes, Loney was above average compared to the rest of the league last year  But he was very bad given his position.  In fact, he was the second-worst offensive 1B last year, only ahead of Huff.  Even though he had an above-average on-base percentage for the league, 14 every day starting first basemen (out of 23) had a better on-base percentage.  Even in the one thing that gives him offensive value, he’s below league average for the position.

His one saving grace, and the one reason why fans haven’t turned on him, is that he has potential. Also that the team is winning, but that’s a blanketing statement.

Meanwhile, the core of the Dodgers is getting older and more expensive and this may be their best opportunity for a serious run before the major 2012-2015 crash from the lack of prospects in the minors.

Fangraphs had a very good post about Loney.  I don’t see what other people see in Loney’s swing.  It’s very smooth, but it doesn’t look like he’s loading power.  It looks like he’s deliberately not swinging for power most times.  As the Fangraphs article points out, he’s actually very good at spraying the ball to the opposite field, but he’s not swinging for pull as much as he should be–that’s where his power is.

I always try to keep things in perspective.  Big Klu didn’t come around immediately either.  That’s how it works with prospects.  It’s up to them to reach their potential.

Ted Kluszewski, however, had one above-average power year before his age 28 season. At first base, no less.

Now I’m not saying Loney will turn into Klu. Klu is a comparable, but he didn’t have Loney’s patience and patience is associated with a lot of good things in hitting.  The problem is, if Loney’s best years are still ahead of him, or even three years ahead of him, can the Dodgers afford to wait for that?

First base is a premiere hitter’s position.  Basically you want your best power hitters with no redeeming defensive qualities in these positions, by order: LF, 1B, RF, 3B, 2B, CF, C/SS.  That’s kind of old school theory, but it’s correct. Maybe you’d rather have your worst fielder in RF because fewer balls go there (now there’s a cool study), but 1B is a great position because it doesn’t require much fielding and throwing.

The Dodgers right now are fortunate enough to have the best center fielder hitter in the game.  Take his production and put it at 1B and it’s still valuable. They also have solid to above-average hitting (compared to other players in position) from third base, second base right field, left field and catcher.

Originally I thought maybe moving Ethier to first base and signing a free agent outfielder would be the best, since Ethier is such an awful outfielder. But Manny leaving next year means there’s already going to be one hole in the outfield and there is, right now, no outfielder in the minors that’s prepared to jump to the majors.

There’s a number of decent free agents available in the 2011 free agency pool at 1B and OF: Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena, Lyle Overbay and the potentially awesome return to Los Angeles of Jayson Werth.  (There’s also the potential of the Cardinals not paying Pujols’ option, and same with the Astros and Berkman, but both ideas are laughable).

The team will also have a number of their players going through huge arbitration hearings over the next three years and will need to value their money properly.  This goes for Kemp, Kershaw, Martin, Billingsley, Broxton and Sherrill, in addition to Loney.

Assuming the core of young talent becomes expensive, a cheap alternative wherever it can be found is necessary.  So Loney, even though he’s not that great offensively, becomes remarkably valuable in dollar terms.

The OF market won’t be so strong that the Dodgers can pick up two valuable outfielders for reasonable prices. The only reasonable solution would be to sign both Crawford and Werth or maybe sign Dunn to play 1B and Crawford or Werth, with Ethier remaining in the outfield.  In that latter one, you’re giving up A LOT on defense.  And that’s assuming the bidding war for those players’ services doesn’t exceed the Dodgers’ budget.

Long story short, the drop in the level of production from

Ethier OF-Loney 1B-replacement OF
to
Ethier 1B-replacement OF-replacement OF

would be too great, and that’s made even worse if the Dodgers’ money woes continue into next year.  The Dodgers would then have to trade Loney, and they’d have to give up more than they get in that.  The only suitable replacement would have to be someone so great, he supercedes Loney and the replacement outfielder’s production–and that’s basically just Pujols.

Alternatively, every free agent 1B on the market has had serious injury issues or just isn’t that good.  The only one I would consider a bigger gain than loss over Loney would be either Carlos Pena or Adam Dunn, though those two aren’t so great to warrant replacing Loney.  (Dunn, fyi, is such a bad outfielder that he almost literally negates his offensive value).

So yeah.  Maybe Loney’s not the best offensive 1B, but he’s the Dodgers’ 1B.  Hopefully he develops into his full potential, but if he doesn’t, he’s still a valuable asset to the Dodgers.

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Filed under Free agent signings, MLB, Uncategorized