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Carlos Lee or not, Don Mattingly sounds ready to upgrade over James Loney

Jul 3, 2012, 1:50 PM EDT

James Loney, Don Mattingly AP

By pursuing an ultimately unsuccessful trade for Carlos Lee the Dodgers made is obvious that they’re not happy with James Loney‘s production at first base, so when Loney told Don Mattingly that he feels ready to break out offensively the manager was understandably skeptical:

He came into my office and he felt like he’s got it, so we’ll see. He feels good, so we’ll see. He’s confident. He got a couple hits tonight and we’ll leave it there. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. I’ve been through this the last four years with James, so we’ll see where it rolls.

In other words, talk is cheap when you’re a 28-year-old veteran at an offense-driven position with a .425 career slugging percentage.

Arash Markasi of ESPN Los Angeles paints a picture of Mattingly being more or less fed up with talk of Loney’s “confidence level” at the plate, noting that the manager is sick of “answering the same questions about Loney every year” and deadpanned “better ones” when asked what adjustments the first baseman needed to make.

At this point in his career Lee is hardly a sure-fire upgrade over even Loney, but the bigger point is that the Dodgers have been starting one of the least-productive first basemen in the league for five seasons now and finding someone who can top Loney’s measly .404 slugging percentage and .741 OPS during that time shouldn’t be very tough.

In the meantime Loney is making $6.4 million after being paid $4.9 million in 2011 and $3.1 million in 2010. For that $14.4 million the Dodgers have gotten 395 games of a .271 batting average, .329 on-base percentage, and .392 slugging percentage with a total of 24 homers in 1,479 plate appearances.

  1. davebrownspiral - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Donnie Baseball should just come out of retirement, play first base and be a player/manager. At this point he’d probably be more productive than Loney.

  2. ja4ed - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    We have an All-Star 1b we’re willing to trade.

    Sincerely,

    Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer

  3. SmackSaw - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    The Dodgers are awful.

  4. makeham98 - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I understand that Ryan Howard is well rested.

  5. beanster71 - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    What I got from Donnie’s quote: “we’ll see … we’ll see … We’ll see … so we’ll see…”

  6. mybrunoblog - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Mattingly sounds frustrated as hell. The team isn’t scoring many runs and 1B is a spot that has to produce especially in a NL lineup. Time for a change in LA.

  7. mathieug79 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    If I were AA i would be on the phone right now, trying to get pitching for Adam Lind. I think Lind would be an upgrade, cheap, and could get to 30/100 on an NL team. I think EE should be the 1B from here on out. Get a cheap, older DH for the rest of the season.

  8. yahmule - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

    This is the type of situation that really begs more specific language. The phrase “ready to upgrade over James Loney”, for example. What does that mean exactly? The Dodgers could attain a significant upgrade over James Loney and still have a first baseman that is well below league average. Even more specious is the suggestion that James Loney “feels ready to break out offensively”. I hope nobody is considering accepting James Loney’s thin standards as to what might constitute an “offensive breakout”. I guess Dodgers fans should be encouraged that they’re not going to wait four and half more years to address this glaring weakness.

  9. db105 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    Loney is Greg Brock without power.

    • wihalofan - Jul 3, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      Greg Brock was Steve Garvey without forearms.

  10. yahmule - Jul 3, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Greg Brock did have a hell of an April in his rookie season.

  11. willsolo - Jul 3, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Does anybody have Eric Karros’ cellphone number handy???

  12. genericcommenter - Jul 3, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Are you telling me a guy who hit .279 with 1 HR at AAA, reached double digits once in 4 full minor league seasons, and has produced less during his peak than Don Mattingly did at 34 with a bad back, did not magically turn into a a big-time slugging first basemen?

    • yahmule - Jul 3, 2012 at 11:08 PM

      I’m telling you he turned into Enzo friggin’ Hernandez.

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