Non-Tender Candidate: James Loney

Dodgers first baseman James Loney does not intuitively strike me as a non-tender candidate – the team was reportedly unwilling to part with him in July in a Cliff Lee trade.  However, Loney had a terrible final two months and finished with the worst numbers of his career.  Let's examine his case.

Loney, 27 in May, agreed on a $3.1MM deal with the Dodgers for 2010.  He was arbitration eligible for the first time after posting another 13 home run, 90 RBI season.  This year Loney still managed ten home runs and 88 RBIs, but his batting average and walk rate slipped from '09.  He finished at .267/.329/.395, disappointing rates for a first baseman.

Loney's basic career numbers: a .288 average, 55 home runs, 353 RBIs, 267 runs, and 25 steals in 2436 plate appearances across 624 games.  Potential comparables Corey Hart, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, and Josh Willingham averaged a raise of about $1.8MM, which would put Loney at $4.9MM for 2011.  These comparables aren't perfect; Loney bests them all in average and RBIs but falls short in home runs.  Hart, coming off a lousy platform year himself after the '09 season, had to beat the Brewers to get his $1.55MM raise.  The Brewers were rewarded for tendering Hart a contract, as he had a big 2010 season. 

Chances are some team would be willing to give Loney a shot at $4.5-5MM next year even if the Dodgers prefer a change at first base.  Loney's team will have the ability to retain him for 2012 if they're happy with his '11 results.  MLB.com's Bill Ladson speculated on Friday that the Nationals would go after Loney hard if the Dodgers make him available. 

We'll still pose the question in a poll: will the Dodgers non-tender Loney?  Click here to vote and here to see the results.


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106 Comments on "Non-Tender Candidate: James Loney"


downanddirty
4 years 10 months ago

Hope the Cubs are keeping an eye on this.

4 years 10 months ago

So they can have someone underperform at another position?

4 years 10 months ago

Casey Kotchman v2.0. He’s not worth the raise, nor is he deserving of a MLB starting 1B job.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

I disagree. The Dodgers constantley say that he’s a power hitter and the power will come well maybe he can find an organization like Baltimore or Washington where they just let him do what he’s best at, hitting for avg., driving in runs, and playing good d at 1B.

I say he is the Kelly Johnson of next season if he gets non-tendered because this was his only real bad season. He has potential to be a john olarud type 1B.

inkstainedscribe
4 years 10 months ago

I’m constantly trolling for guys who could help the Braves, and Loney would fill that bill. He hasn’t played much OF since ’07 when he was a RF in AAA, but hey, give him a chance as a backup/insurance policy for Freeman and/or give him a chance to be your everyday LF. (He’s another lefty. That’s the downside …)

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

seriously, if he gets non-tendered, there might be 20+ teams interested — he could be one of those players on the free agent market who every teams wants kind of like Matt Capps last season (a surprise non-tender). Yes he had a bad final two months, but next year he will rebound to being one of the top 5-10 1B in Baseball. The guy two of the past 3 seasons does nothing but play a good 1B and drive in runs. He hits for a high avg. as well and gets on base more than not. I honestly dont see how the Dodgers could non-tender him but if they do, I could honestly see 25 teams interested in Loney. It’s really going to be fun and awesome if he hits the market.

$1529282
4 years 10 months ago

One of the top 5-10 first basemen in baseball? So Loney will outperform some combination of:

Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Adam Dunn, Billy Butler, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche, Gaby Sanchez, and Justin Smoak?

I’m not sure where the faith in a first baseman who hasn’t posted an OPS+ better than 103 or a wOBA better than .333 since 2007 comes from… I’ll believe it when I see it.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Faith in a first baseman? So tell me why Justin Smoak is up there?

Loney is a better player than Pena, Billy Butler, Justin Smoak, and what tells you Gaby Sanchez is going to maintain what he did this season?

$1529282
4 years 10 months ago

Smoak: Because he was a Top 10 prospect in baseball entering this season, hit very well in his September recall, is 2.5 years younger, and has a vastly higher ceiling.

Pena was worth more Wins last season alone than Loney in the past two years combined.

Butler had a .369 wOBA last year and improved to .372 this year. Loney hasn’t even come close to that in the past three seasons. Butler was a 3.4 WAR player this season. Loney hasn’t totaled that from 2008-2010 combined.

Sanchez never posted a wOBA lower than .365 over a full minor league season. There’s more reason to expect he maintains than to expect Loney rebounds.

4 years 10 months ago

Loney is better than Billy Butler? Give me the stats that prove it.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Bully butler and gloves go together like chocolate ice cream and an onion

4 years 10 months ago

I agree–Butler is a disaster at first base (makes me dream of days with Gload and Mientkiewicz) but Billy brings an amazing bat–first base is an offense-first position. Butler is the Zeke Bonura of today while Loney is more of the Gus Suhr/Elbie Fletcher without the fine OBP. If you don’t know about Big Zeke Bonura, look that guy up–there are plenty of amusing tales regarding that all-hit-no-field star of the 1930s. Jimmy Dykes’s biography “You Can’t Steal First Base” has many amusing Bonura yarns.

4 years 10 months ago

So does James Loney and hitting. And since 1B is primarily an offensive position……

4 years 10 months ago

Even if you take out Pena, Butler, and Smoak, he still named 15 guys. Saying James Loney is a top 5-10 first baseman is laughable. You’re acting like this year is just one down year…his batting average, slugging%, OPS, HR’s, RBI’s have all gone down or stayed the same every season since 2007. He is at best an average to below average first baseman and he hasn’t shown anything that indicates he is getting better. Yeah he could turn it around and improve, but top 5-10 right now with guys like
1. Albert Pujols
2. Kevin Youkilis
3. Adrian Gonzalez
4. Mark Teixeria
5. Joey Votto
6. Justin Morneau
7. Prince Fielder
8. Ryan Howard.
9. Miguel Cabrera
10. Adam Dunn…and the list goes on. Which guy is he better than again? Be serious.

CaseyBlakeDeWitt
4 years 10 months ago

Miguel Cabrera only comes in at 9? I know his defense is bad but I think his bat more than makes up for it.

4 years 10 months ago

The list isn’t in any real order…although Pujols is clearly #1 and Dunn is clearly #10.

4 years 10 months ago

Come now, Loney better than Billy Butler? Butler is a hitting machine–James Loney is Gus Suhr on a good day.

start_wearing_purple
4 years 10 months ago

No love for Albert Pujols?

$1529282
4 years 10 months ago

No idea how I left him off the list haha. Cabrera either.

$1529282
4 years 10 months ago

I didn’t even include Pujols and Cabrera on there — yikes. Loney would be lucky to be considered a Top 15 first baseman.

hrbomber1113
4 years 10 months ago

top 5-10 1B?????? I have well over 10 guys easily ahead of him

Pujols/Votto/Miguel Cabrera/Teixeira/Agonz/Fielder/Morneau/Dunn/Ryan Howard/Konerko/Butler/Carlos Pena/Derrek Lee/Berkman plus Barton/Ike Davis/Gaby Sanchez/Laroche are probably to possibly better. He wouldn’t even crack my top 15.

I don’t know where his power went but if you aren’t getting power from your 1B or great OBP like Barton you have to get it somewhere else. And in this new age we’re going into where speed and defense have come back, there just aren’t that many middle infielders and catchers to go around who are going to support a well below average 1B.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

I’m not buying top 10 at 1b, but I do think he’s a solid 1b and nontendering him will be a mistake. He’s very similar to Mark Grace in his run production. If teams stop expecting him to be a 3-4-5 hitter, they won’t be disappointed. There will be several teams interested in him if he is nontendered. I could see him in Tampa, Texas, Toronto, maybe Baltimore.

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

I understand what you are saying, that he might technically have a chance at being a top 5-10 1B, but to do so, you are counting on a weak field for it to happen. I am sorry, but it’s clear that he isn’t the 1B to this point that the Dodgers have wanted. To say otherwise is just wishing and hoping, or, framing the argument in his favor. If he continues as is for the next 10 years, it will be a below-average starting 1B career. Can he get better? Can he improve? Sure. But until he does, you can’t just ignore his performance to this point. For the most part, all of his projection is based on projectable frame filling out (which is near tapped out), projectable doubles power, strikezone judgment, and contact rates. All are good things, but they start working against you at a certain point if a breakout doesn’t happen or the results aren’t there. Remember that he never quite produced the way you expect a 1B prospect to do in the minors. Much of his value was invested in being young for his level and showing enough projectable peripherals, while producing solid stats, not great.

At some point you have to start saying that he’s a good contact, solid AVG (not great), good eye, some pop (10-20 HRs) 1B with a good glove. The prospect/young player tag only lasts so long. He’s been in the big leagues for a long time now. To say that that overall combination is not useful is not giving him enough credit. He is certainly a proven majorleaguer. Circumstantially, as you mention, he might just end up being a top 10 1B (My guess is that he’ll end up a #10-12 1B type though), but that really puts him into the Lyle Overbay category of 1Bs.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

Absolutely right. And a major problem with Loney is that not only is he not improving, he’s DECLINING. This isn’t just one bad season, his OPS has dropped from .919 in 2007 (half season) to .772 in 2008 to .756 in 2009 to .723 in 2010. That’s 3 straight seasons of declining production.

There are so many other 1B options on the market, and while Dunn and Konerko may get big contracts, there are many options that shouldn’t cost much more than Loney would make through arbitration. Guys like Pena, Berkman, Lee, LaRoche, Branyan would all be inexpensive options that would likely produce more than Loney has for L.A.

That being said, if the Dodgers could work a deal for a decent 3B (Aramis Ramirez?), it might make sense to tender Loney a contract and platoon him with Casey Blake at 1B. Loney’s splits are good against righties, while Casey Blake still can hit lefties.

Jessamynn
4 years 10 months ago

Very nice analysis, couldn’t have said it better myself.

4 years 10 months ago

Well you can call an apple an orange, but that doesn’t make it an orange. He doesn’t hit for power. RBIs are totally dependent on the players in front of him getting on base so driving in runs is not a skill. And this was not his only bad season, he’s had three straight years of sub-.800 OPS production from 1B which is absolutely unacceptable from a primarily offensive position.

He’s not the next Kelly Johnson. He’s not going to be an above-average hitter for his position. If he’s lucky, he’ll become the next John Olerud or Mark Grace but he’s going to have to start hitting if he’s going to be that good.

neoncactus
4 years 10 months ago

Dodgers have too many holes to fill without having to worry about finding a first baseman. Even with a raise, he’s cheaper than any first baseman that could certainly outproduce him. Dodgers likely aren’t going to spend the money on someone with no power like Dunn or Berkman. Unless they trade Loney away in a deal for Fielder or a starting pitcher, he’ll be a Dodger.

4 years 10 months ago

Since when does Dunn have no power??

neoncactus
4 years 10 months ago

Sorry! Haven’t had my coffee yet. I meant to say more power.

I don’t think the Dodgers will spend on Dunn and Berkman, and I’m not really convinced that Dunn is what they need anyway. He hasn’t exactly helped the Reds, DBacks or Nationals do much. I see Loney as a high trade possibility, but he’ll get tendered a contract.

4 years 10 months ago

Ahh ok now I understand. Yeah I don’t see the Dodgers going after Dunn since he will be pretty costly. But I can’t see Berkman breaking the bank, that could be one I see them going for. Esp. If they can deal Loney for something solid.

4 years 10 months ago

Berkman may be reluctant to sign with the Dodgers if he can get a starting job somewhere other than out west. Before he was traded, he said he’d be more willing to go East than West.

4 years 10 months ago

Of course the Dodgers won’t spend on Dunn or Berkman, the real question is will they spend on Loney… and I don’t think so. A lot depends on if they have anyone in their minor league system that can play 1B. They will give that player the position saying something like “Loney hasn’t produced as well as they had hoped and “player x” shows all the signs of being an All-Star 1B”…. but we will all know if is because he is cheap.

neoncactus
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t see them doing that. Loney is still affordable enough that, barring other options, they would continue to start him and let him cement his status as the next Greg Brock. :-) If they can get a decent trade return, though, I’d trade him in an instant.

4 years 10 months ago

I’m just trying to figure how the Dodgers are going to cut “expenses” by 25%, and Loney seems like a “easy” way to “trim” $3-4M.

neoncactus
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t see them reducing payroll by 25%. That would drop them to around $75 million, and even Frank’s not going to cut it that far. I see payroll as staying somewhere in the same neighborhood it’s at now, possibly even a small increase.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

Pena, Berkman, Lee, LaRoche and Branyan are just a few options that will likely cost only a marginal amount more than Loney would make through arbitration… I’d bet most of those players would be more productive.

The free agent market is saturated with decent 1B this off-season. The Dodgers may have bigger holes to fill (2B, 3B, C), but the free agents available make 1B the easiest path to upgrade (aside from LF). Unless you think the Dodgers can get Victor Martinez or Adrian Beltre…

Jessamynn
4 years 10 months ago

This is probably the only reasonable justification for the Dodgers to continue keeping Loney. As lacking as he may be (relative to other 1Bs), he’s not really a *hole* in their lineup. With so many other holes and an unknown financial situation, I wouldn’t blame the Dodgers if they felt like upgrading 1B wasn’t a major priority right now.

4 years 10 months ago

I don’t see Loney getting non-tendered but I could see him being dealt. He won’t bring in a hefty bounty by any means, but they could get a solid prospect for him.

I’m not totally buying the Nats being in on him. They have a severe power outage if Dunn leaves, that I don’t know if Loney is the man to fill that. They also aren’t really a small ball team, as their power guys Dunn, Willingham and Zimmerman are their best OBP guys.

Sniderlover
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah I don’t think he gets non-tendered either unless the organization is absolutely sure they can’t get anything back for Loney.

Could be a buy-low option for teams out there, maybe someone like Brewers or Padres once they deal their first baseman?

Guest
4 years 10 months ago

They gonna run Jay Gibbons out there?

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

I think Loney’s situation is on the very brink.I think this is the offseason that is put-up-or-shut-up for both sides. The Dodgers must decide either to go all-in on Loney and keep him, or, deal him now if they want anything useful in exchange. If he has another year like the last 5 or so, he will lose all trade value and will certainly be a non-tender candidate in the ’11 offseason. If they trade him now, they might be able to get a decent prospect or useful majorleague piece today, though not likely to be especially great.

Either way, it comes down to what you think he will become from this point forward. Considering he’s a 1st Rd pick for the Dodgers, the investment is already great so they’re just trying to recoup some value. For another team, it’s a chance at some risk/reward a la Carlos Peña or David Ortiz types of lefty 1Bs who found success later and on another team.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

It’s hard to imagine the Dodgers non-tender Loney, but if they do, it’s going to be an even more and more fun and interesting off-season!

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t think they will non-tender him this season too. But, I think Tim is getting to the issue that, this is the offseason that they really decide what to do with him. It is essentially the offseason right before the one where they have to either release him or extend him. By then, they won’t be able to trade him because he’s either had a breakout season, or, he’s continued as is., and, either scenario presents the possibility to the Dodgers of trading him.

AnewBlueDay
4 years 10 months ago

Loney is a modern day Mark Grace. I think a better hitting coach, improve some hitters around him — and keep him. Not mentioned here — his glove. He saves many hard and off line throws from being errors. He is a great fielder. The Dodgers do have greater needs than Loney.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah the Jays are a fit, as are the Orioles, Nationals, Red Sox, Cubs, Braves, and pretty much just about every team. if the Dodgers hadn’t pressured him to be a power hitter for the past 4 seasons, they might not be in this situation, instead, a team may have the chance to pick a golve glove, offensive minded, all-star 1B.

Sniderlover
4 years 10 months ago

Nah I think Jays are fine. Sure the team has a lot of power but I’ve seen Overbay hit here for like 4-5 years with little power and out of a 1st baseman, that’s not something I want.

I’d be interested in grabbing a prospect like Montero though.

4 years 10 months ago

Hope you don’t mean Jesus… I hope the Yankees meant it when they said they wouldn’t trade Montero for anybody available after Lee went to the Rangers

markjsunz
4 years 10 months ago

I always thought of him as a Mark Grace type. There was so much dysfunction on the team last year on the Dodgers most of the young guys had career lows, plus Manny was out of the lineup most of the season. Loneys situation might give us an insight to see what the dodgers want to do.If they have a guy from the minors, or put one of the bench guys at th position they save 4 million dollars. It would be heartbreaking if he goes but the owners are insane. 20 million for lawyers fees and rising.

striker
4 years 10 months ago

Quentin + Floyd for Kemp + Loney. Who hangs up first?

myname_989
4 years 10 months ago

I’d be surprised if the White Sox even answered that call…

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Ned Colletti throws the phone against the wall and it breaks.

4 years 10 months ago

I thought Floyd was locked up for a reason… If he’s traded I hope he goes to the Angels or Giants… Barry Zito should not be allowed to pitch in the last year of his contract.

myname_989
4 years 10 months ago

That’s a little extreme, Tim. I don’t think James Loney had all THAT bad of a season. Face it, the Dodgers team as a whole had an off season. Most of his numbers are only a shade away from what they were last season, with his BA and OBP taking the biggest hits. The Dodgers have other things to worry about. Creating an unnecessary hole in a year where they may not compete anyway, probably isn’t the greatest of ideas. I’d be willing to bet that Loney bounces back.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

exactly. I mean you could look at Derek Jeter for example, down year. Jayson Werth, down year. Bobby Abreu, down year. Matt Kemp, down year. Point is, James Loney had a down year himself but nothing tells be that next season he wont go back to being one of the NL’s 1B. James Loney was still worth a 1.2 WAR in ’10 and had a 3.2 UZR.

Someone on MLBTR recently said that because of the ridiclous expectations that the Dodgers gave him, he couldn’t succeed there, but even that, he still has had several good seasons as a Dodger and ONLY 1 BAD ONE! So the point is, even if he did get non-tendered he might succeed more if a team just says do what you do. He is a great fielding 1B and a very good hitter but again, had one bad season — this one.

azdsnd
4 years 10 months ago

Why is there this myth on this board that 2010 is Loney’s only bad season?

FanGraphs WAR by year:
’07: 2.1 (thank your .350 BABIP, James)
’08: 0.7 (IN 161 GAMES!!!)
’09: 1.6
’10: 1.2

One bad season? More like one GOOD (and it wasn’t even that good, frankly…) season, which came three years ago. If you think he’s going to “bounce back” to his ’09 numbers, you may be right, but he’ll be “bouncing back” from completely mediocre to mostly mediocre.

The Casey Kotchman comp from the top of this board is pretty solid, actually.

Loney’s Baseball-Reference most-comparable hitter: Ricky Jordan, of the career 103 OPS+ – http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/jordari02.shtml

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

1.2 WAR is below starting level for an everyday position player. You want your starters to be in and around 3-5 at least. When it’s below 3, you’re talking about reserve level of players. The fact that he’s only contributed 1.2 wins above replacement as an everyday player, means that he’s horrible. WAR is a stat that greatly benefits playing time. So if he’s in there everyday, that much more than a bench player, and contributes as much as a bench guy does who has sporadic playing time, it means that he is pretty bad overall, at best, mediocre.

With, say, young players who are breaking into the majors, a <3 WAR is acceptable for the time being, but he's not really in that category anymore with 5+ yrs of experience.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

OPS
.919 in 2007 (half season)
.772 in 2008
.756 in 2009
.723 in 2010

See a pattern here? That’s 3 straight seasons of declining production.

It is not simply a matter of one bad season. In 2009 he was 2nd to last in OPS among qualified 1B (only ahead of Daniel Murphy). In 2008 he was 4th to last only ahead of Garko, Millar and Barton.

4 years 10 months ago

Jayson Werth… down year? I concur. He had a quality season, better than his ’08 campaign, and Werth didn’t break out last year until Round 2 of interleague play.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Check out his AVG with risp

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

I like and appreciate that you are just behind this player. I kind of go there too. I want him to succeed, but the wish to succeed doesn’t justify cherry-picking which stats to pay attention to, and which to ignore. No matter what stats you tell me to look at, you can’t tell me he’s been a “good” player. Any objective person will come out and say that he needs to improve. Time is running out. If he wasn’t a bonus baby 1st Rd draft pick, he wouldn’t even have received the amount of opportunities as he’s already had to turn it around. After, say, year 3, he would have been been fighting for playing time with the latest highly regarded Dodgers prospect.For me, it comes down to a simple thing: a good system is brutally honest to themselves about their own players.

Jessamynn
4 years 10 months ago

Which means he didn’t hit well in RISP this season….doesn’t mean he had a down year. Even if it was, his “down year” was still worth 5 WAR — 4 times higher than what Loney posted.

azdsnd
4 years 10 months ago

Never thought I’d see the day when people were crying foul over non-tendering a first baseman with a SLG below .400 and a .315 wOBA.

James Loney is an absolutely terrible baseball player. He’s played in 624 regular-season major-league games and generated a whopping total of 6.5 WAR. That’s shockingly mediocre production from an everyday player. His only season in which he produced over 2 WAR, he also sported a BABIP of .350. So unless you think he’s going to be remarkably lucky again in 2011, he’s really not worth the money. There are cheaper options of equal or comparable ability.

Non-tender.

BlueJays4
4 years 10 months ago

The Jays are looking for a new 1B to take over the reigns and James Loney seems alright until we can find a long term solution as we have no prospects. I’m going to be waiting for the Blue Jays to jump on this if he gets non-tendered.

Sniderlover
4 years 10 months ago

I would prefer someone with more power. Overbay was good when he was here but that’s pretty much what Loney is and I would prefer my first baseman to be big homerun hitters.

Personally, I would look for a longer term solution and try to pick up a prospect or a young developing first baseman.

$1529282
4 years 10 months ago

Loney has a career .339 wOBA that’s inflated by a small-sample 2006 and a half-season in 2007 that sported the aforementioned .350 BABIP. Strike those and his career wOBA is in the .320 range.

Also, where is this “Gold Glove” myth coming from? Loney has a career UZR/150 of -0.9. He’s posted UZRs of around +2 each of the past seasons. He’s slightly above average with the glove at best, and has never done anything to show he’s a “great defender.”

dire straits
4 years 10 months ago

Wow, anyone can go to fangraphs…

4 years 10 months ago

I agree with your overall premise that he isn’t a great 1B, but disagree some with the UZR argument. While I think it is an exceptional defensive tool 1B like catcher is a bit of a different position and as such UZR isn’t always the best indicator as to defensive talent (at these positions). Guys like Pujols, Tex, Pena etc. have put up plenty of bad UZR’s and while some of their career numbers might be better i think it is apparent that the stat has a weakness in it, when it comes to 1B. Now these other 1B aren’t just lauded by the media in the Rafael Palmerio winning the Gold Glove mentality, but rather they are thought to be good defensively by scouts and pundits. Loney may not be as good as some of these guys, but I think he is pretty solid defensively based on what i’ve seen/read/and looking at the numbers.

Now I think that improves Loney’s game/value some, but not being a top notch hitter is still what keeps him well in the bottom half of 1B.

Guest
4 years 10 months ago

He’s slightly above average with the glove at best, and has never done anything to show he’s a “great defender.”

Have you watched him ever play at first? I am gonna assume you’ve haven’t.
The infield defense would crumble without him.

YanksFanSince78
4 years 10 months ago

I think people are obscenely obsessed with #’s. Because most good bats w/ mediocre to below average defense are positioned at 1B. Of course you have a few gold glove guys like Tex, etc at the position but sometimes a 1B is just a bat. Therefor you’re bound to have better than avg offensive 1B. That however, shouldn’t relegate Looney to being a scrub. As long as his salary is commensurate with his play then he’s a solid hitter and in a decent lineup, a good run producer. He guaranteed to play 150 games, give you 160-170 hits, 40 dbls, 10-15 hrs and if he has decent OBP guys in front, he’ll drive in 90 RBI. For a small market team looking for a decent contact hitter on the cheap he is perfect.

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

That’s how I feel too. A random team doesn’t necessarily need him to be a potential All-Star for it to be a good deal. The problem with the Dodgers is that they aren’t a random team. They drafted him with a 1st round pick. You don’t pick that high, get a “Lyle Overbay,” and feel satisfied by that transaction. Whereas, on the Free Agent market, picking him up for a suppressed market rate, but getting a starting 1B who can contribute something is a pretty good deal.

Jessamynn
4 years 10 months ago

While it’s true that a “random team” doesn’t need him to be an All-Star, the more relevant question is whether or not THE DODGERS need him to give them an All-Star level of production in order legitimately compete for titles. How it applies to the Dodgers is all that really matters.

In my opinion, the Dodgers need more from 1B if they want to be a contender. Seeing as upgrades at 2B, 3B, C are hard to come by — whereas upgrading at 1B is relatively easy — then the Dodgers should absolutely consider cutting ties with Loney.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

You say we’re obsessed with numbers, and then you throw out a bunch of numbers (games played, hits, doubles, homeruns, RBIs) to validate that Loney is a “good” run producer. The difference is the numbers you use are largely meaningless counting stats, rather than averages.

Is James Loney a better run producer than Prince Fielder? Brian McCann? Andre Ethier? Ryan Zimmerman? Jayson Werth? Hanley Ramirez? Buster Posey? Colby Rasmus? Jay Bruce? Victor Martinez? Billy Butler? Nelson Cruz? Joe Mauer? Because he had more RBIs than any of those guys this season.

It is all about opportunities. RBIs alone don’t tell the whole story. James Loney was 14th in the number of runners on base when he came to the plate this season.

James Loney ranks 69th in OBI%, that is “others batted in” percentage at 16.8%. He’s batted in 4.7% of runners at 1st, 24.3% of runners at 2nd and 34.6% of runners at 3rd. This is for batters with over 100 PA.

69th isn’t bad by any means, it shows he hits well with RISP, but it isn’t great either.

MannyBeingMVP
4 years 10 months ago

Maybe a trade of Loney from the Dodgers for Willingham from the Nationals would work out. This presumes that the Nationals do not sign Dunn and instead sign an extra outfielder. This also presumes that the Dodger ownership situation is resolved and that the Dodgers are spending the big bucks to grab someone like Fielder. Otherwise, the Dodgers would do well to sign Loney to another one year contract while they look for options.

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

Not a bad idea, but Willingham is pushing it for me in terms of Loney’s current value. Right now I think the Nats would pass on that deal. I think the best the Dodgers can expect is a package of C+ prospect(s) who haven’t appeared in the majors yet, like, say, Justin Maxwell, Ian Desmond, Bradley Desmond.

melonis_rex
4 years 10 months ago

Ian Desmond played the entire 2010 season in the majors and is probably DC’s starting SS for 2011.

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

My bad. You’re right. I had a brain freeze. 😉

4 years 10 months ago

I think you are right on terms of value, despite the extra time Loney isn’t as worth as much as Willingham. Maybe one C+ and one C prospect should get it done for Loney. Willingham would probably be worth one B- and one C+ guy.

(and like rex said Desmond has a full year under his belt, and even if he didn’t his positional value would make him above Loney)

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

Yeah. In some ways these kinds of trades are the trickiest. I think the trick is this:

If the Nats (or any other team) want to get him, they need to offer a package of prospects that is worth slightly more than the value of one more year of service from Loney. Otherwise, the Dodgers would probably just live with him for another year then release him, rather than, accepting a bunch of random minorleague pieces.

4 years 10 months ago

Ian Desmond has been in the Major Leagues since 2009. Furthermore the Nationals have no plans to trade either of their Middle Infield duo of Desmond and Espinosa.

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

My bad. I had a brain freeze. I was thinking Ian was still a “prospect.” 😉

4 years 10 months ago

Willingham is a much better hitter than Loney is. Why would the Nationals hand over one of their better players for a slap-hitting 1B, even if he has years of team control left?

Jonathunder
4 years 10 months ago

The Dodgers would be absolutely foolish to let him go.

4 years 10 months ago

Why? Because he hits like a back-up middle infielder?

Jonathunder
4 years 10 months ago

While the home run power isn’t there now, he gets you doubles. Loney had 41, 25, and 35 doubles the past years. His rookie year he had a .331 BA. While his career average is around .290, he has shown he has the potential to hit for a high average. You have to remember that he is only 26, he hasn’t even hit his prime yet and he is putting up decent numbers. Just because he has been in the league for 5 years doesn’t make him a maxed out potential prospect, he is a solid starter and has been for years when a lot of guys his age haven’t even made the majors yet. Giving up on a solid player this early would be a huge mistake.

4 years 10 months ago

He’s not putting up decent numbers and he’s been on the decline for three straight years.

Jonathunder
4 years 10 months ago

90 RBI a year isn’t good numbers? Are you saying you wouldn’t want a young athletic first baseman? He is very underrated in the field might i add, only 4 errors this year and a .997 Fielding Percentage. I would take 40 doubles and 90 RBI from any player. He’s still young, hes going to improve. A change in manager should help the struggling Dodgers as well.

4 years 10 months ago

Because we all know RBI’s and errors are the best way to measure performance…

Jonathunder
4 years 10 months ago

No, it isn’t the only or even the best way to measure, but you cannot just discount them completely.

$2509879
4 years 10 months ago

I think a Loney-to-TB for James Shields deal makes sense. Both players would benefit from the new parks, and TB has 5 better starters than Shields under contract for next year. The Dodgers can sign Konerko, or one of the other higher-slugging FA 1B’s to replace Loney.

TradeYouk
4 years 10 months ago

James Loney’s OPS would put him 9th among qualified Shortstops and 10th among qualified second basemen. That is not a great spot for a first baseman to be in.

mrsjohnmiltonrocks
4 years 10 months ago

No. They will not non tender him. They don’t have to. Surely some team out there would trade you something for him.

myname_989
4 years 10 months ago

Just wondering what people think. If James Loney is non-tendered, who plays first base for the Dodgers next year? They’re not going to make a splash in free agency, especially at first base, and the quality of first baseman that can be had for cheap simply is not appealing. People seem to think that not being one of the best first baseman in the league is a reason to be non-tendered. Even if he stays with the Dodgers as a backup infielder / pinch-hitter type, he still has positive value to the club. 3.5 – 4MM for him seems like a reasonable investment.

Guest
4 years 10 months ago

LOL!! Thank you, who will play first base next year?

bleedDODGERblue
4 years 10 months ago

How far away is Sands from the majors?

basemonkey
4 years 10 months ago

Again. I think this non-tender talk is actually premature. It’s not this season that he’s likely to be non-tendered. I think it’s next offseason. The main issue with him is that the decision over what to do with him has to be made now. Either recoup value by trading him today, or, just eat it and let him play, expecting to non-tender him for nothing at the end of next season. If he has a breakout season, of course, all bets are off.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

Lee, Berkman, Huff, LaRoche, Pena, Branyan, Overbay… all these guys would likely be more productive than Loney, and I doubt any of them get significantly more than $5m (a marginal amount more than Loney will make through arbitration).

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

right, because a .281/.352 with a good glove is the same as a .267/.329.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

he plays 1B well and is a very good hitter. He had one bad season. Would you say that Keith Hernandez and John Olerud don’t have power for the position? I’m not comparing him to them, but he has had seasons similiar to what they are known for. He had one bad season but is a very good 1B. He needs a place to play with no pressure and then he will go back to being a very good offensive and defensive 1B.

$1529282
4 years 10 months ago

.333 wOBA, .332 wOBA, .315 wOBA… you’re right, the other seasons were better… unfortunately, they still were considerably below average in the first place.

Also, his glove is average to above-average. For his career, he’s still got a negative UZR.

You can be a James Loney fan, but he’s not a good player, and hasn’t been since his fluke 2007.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

His OPS has dropped from .919 in 2007 (half season) to .772 in 2008 to .756 in 2009 to .723 in 2010. That’s 3 straight seasons of declining production.

It is not simply a matter of one bad season. In 2009 he was 2nd to last in OPS among qualified 1B (only ahead of Daniel Murphy). In 2008 he was 4th to last only ahead of Garko, Millar and Barton.

4 years 10 months ago

Why don’t you think Freeman is going to be ready next year?

4 years 10 months ago

UZR/150 is horrible for 1B. I refuse to believe Mark Teixeira and AGon have negative UZR.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Fine morneauVP you win, like always.

4 years 10 months ago

Small sample size. He destroyed AAA this year, there’s nothing left for him to prove.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

Because there are nearly a dozen free agent 1B that are better than James Loney, and quite a few of them will only cost a marginal amount more than Loney will make through arbitration.

While Dunn and Konerko are going to be out of the Dodgers budget, any of Lee, Berkman, Huff, LaRoche, Pena, Branyan, and Overbay are not unreasonable.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

They already have one in Casey Blake, who has been terrible against righties but solid against lefties.

Now they just need to sign Adrian Beltre or work a trade for Aramis Ramirez…