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It’s time for Dodgers to release James Loney

Aug 10, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

James Loney Getty Images

Haven’t we all seen enough by now?

All James Loney really had going for him the past couple of years was decent RBI totals.  He truly was a clutch player, in that he hit like a perfectly solid first baseman with RISP and then napped through his at-bats with no one on.

This year, though, Loney has hit like a bad shortstop no matter the situation.  He’s batting .251/.294/.325 with five homers.  Despite batting fifth and sixth all season, he’s driven in a piddly 35 runs in 378 at-bats.

So, the Dodgers should just give up on him now.  There’s no way he can rebound enough over the final 47 games of the season to justify another raise in arbitration this winter.  Despite his modest production — this will be his fourth straight season with an OPS under .800 and fewer than 15 homers — he’s making $4.875 million.  Players in arbitration don’t take paycuts, so the Dodgers would have to spend at least that much to bring him back next year, making him a virtual shoo-in to get non-tendered.  Why not start the process early and spend these next 47 games instead looking at whether Jerry Sands can step in at first base next year?

Sands, who also plays left field, struggled to a .200/.294/.328 line in 25 at-bats for the Dodgers earlier this season, but that just gave him the same OPS that Loney has posted in three times as much action.  Back in Triple-A, Sands has hit 21 homers in 268 at-bats.  He’s taken full advantage of the high-offense environment at Albuquerque — he has a 1.096 OPS at home and a .640 OPS on the road — so there is reason to be skeptical.  But that’s why the smart play would be to give him a long look now before deciding whether to sign a first baseman over the winter.

It’s not as though there’s anything left to lose.

  1. dodger88 - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Agreed, the more at bats they give to Sands the better he could be in 2012 when the games start to count again (fingers crossed).

    My bigger fear is the Colletti over values what Gwynn and Rivera have done, brings both back as starters and still doesn’t give Sands a change to play everyday.

  2. jonweisman - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Loney has already been reduced to part-time status. Releasing him when Trent Oeltjen and Eugenio Velez are on the roster is unnecessary. There’s nothing preventing the Dodgers from calling up Sands now if they want to.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:27 PM

      That’s true. But if Loney were still on the roster, there’s no doubt he’d take away playing time that could go to Sands.

      Sometimes I feel it’s best to just take the decision out of the manager’s hands. They’re always going to be tempted to play the veteran while he’s still around.

  3. SmackSaw - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    Donny Baseball could hit better than Loney. Maybe he could come out of retirement?

    • HL - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      Totally agree. Why not have a player/manager? Hasn’t been done in years.

    • kingbuccaneer - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:41 PM

      It sure is nice to dream…

      If only Dodger fans had a real owner, they might actually go for a REAL 1st baseman this offseason.

  4. Big Ed Robles - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Completely disagree. While I agree he needs to get his act together, it would be ridiculous to release him outright. If I’m correct, he still can be optioned to AAA. Alternately, he can be placed on waivers and then traded or sent to AAA. I don’t think he’s bad enough to warrant a release. The Dodgers would be able to get something for him in a trade.

    On a less reasonable note, I’m not ready to give up on him yet because I think he’s an amazing defensive addition. Maybe one more year…

    • 5thbase - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:50 PM

      The won’t be able to trade him. He won’t be offered arbitration for the reasons listed in the article (he sucks and he’ll get too much money in arbitration) and he’ll be a free agent. No contender is going to give up anything to get a corner infielder who hits like a tween girl. No non-contender is going to give up anything to get a crappy player that they could simply sign after the season ends and he’s effectively cut.

  5. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    It was a shame to see Gordon get hurt again last night…that kid looks pretty good and was causing havoc all night. It looked pretty bad too…reminded me of when David Justice got hurt swinging the bat.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 10, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    They should call up Trayvon Robinson from AAA. That kid looks like an awesome hitter, and the Dodgers could use some hitting help in LF.

    #snark

  7. derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    calling for a guys release? not his benching, demotion, trading, but his release? keep it classy, Matt

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      This isn’t the NFL: he gets his salary regardless. And for what it’s worth, Loney would almost certainly be better off getting his release than in any of those other scenarios. A demotion to Triple-A certainly wouldn’t do him any good, and if he gets released, then he could pick the team he wants to sign with, rather than a trade to some place he might not want to go.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:19 PM

        fair enough, but wouldnt it make sense to hang on to him for the rest of the season and shop him to see if they could get even as much as a bag of baseballs for him?

      • 5thbase - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        How do you go about shopping a guy you don’t have under contract? At the end of the season he’s gone. They’re not going to offer him arbitration and it’s very unlikely he would accept a contract on the Dodgers’ terms, so he’s gone. Knowing that, he’s simply taking away opportunities for them to evaluate alternatives. Nobody will trade anything for him. If someone wants him they will sign him as a free agent.

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:15 PM

        my point is why release him now when hes just gonna be gone at the end of the season? keep him as a bench player and see if anyone will give up absolutely anything for him. I think youd agree just because a move is illogical doesnt mean there are GMs out there who would make that move. just sayin

      • derpdederpdederp - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:15 PM

        arent* GMs (like the Cubbies one)

  8. drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    If he is released the Phillies should pick him up and drop Ross Gload.

    • seanmk - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:18 PM

      he’s surprisingly not an upgrade

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:23 PM

        I will disagree with that. I understand that Loney has had a terrible season, but with the hip injury Gload can’t do anything. At least Loney has 5 HR this season, granted in significantly more at bats, but still. I am going to be giving Gload the business into he hits a HR.

    • Utley's Hair - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:19 PM

      You’d pick up a hitchhiker to get rid of Gload, wouldn’t you?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM

        As long as the hitchhiker was left handed.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:27 PM

        I just want to go on record as saying that I like Ross Gload. He was productive last season, however, this hip injury has rendered him useless. The Phillies need some left handed thunder off the bench. I realize that Loney isn’t necessarily “thunder” but at least he is a passing shower.

      • Utley's Hair - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:31 PM

        As long as that shower isn’t warm and oh, forget it….

      • seanmk - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        i’d aim higher then loney is all i’d say, like a jim thome type hitter would be great. loney never got on base at a great rate and has no power so the “upgrade” is lateral. plus he can only play 1st base which is covered. Only other option that i could find would be jason kubel(if only the twins would sell).

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:43 PM

        Kubel would never get through wavers. To be honest, I doubt Thome would either. Or Giambi.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:41 PM

        Ok, nevermind….I am completely wrong about this. Loney looks like he just doesn’t care.

    • 5thbase - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      I like Gload because he’s the past tense of glow.

  9. HL - Aug 10, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    Since the Dodgers are so good at picking up old talent, I say sign someone like Carlos Delgado or, to hell with it, ask Eric Karros if he wants his job back. Colletti could then make the “smart play” by trading Sands for a quality left fielder like Carlos Lee or Jonny Gomes.

    • poprox13 - Aug 10, 2011 at 2:25 PM

      Is Billy Ashley available?

  10. kingbuccaneer - Aug 10, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Matt, I’m guessing you’re a Dodger fan that is outraged by their ownership and ineptness of Ned Colletti.. As a Tampa Bay fan, I can truly say, I feel your pain.

    As for Loney, I can’t disagree with you on your assessment of the situation. He needs to go right now and it can’t come any quicker. 35 RBI’s for a 1st baseman, that has played all year, is down right criminal. Sands needs to be on this roster right now.

    I just feel sorry for Donny Baseball and Dodger fans…

  11. poprox13 - Aug 10, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    hey look, Loney just struck out!

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