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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
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James Loney: Try to Remember the Kind of September
2008-11-20 09:48
by Jon Weisman

On September 2, 2007, James Loney had an OPS of .824 (.361 on-base percentage, .463 slugging percentage). He OPSed 1.141 the rest of the way and finished the season at .919.

On September 2, 2008, James Loney had an OPS of .820 (.361 on-base percentage, .459 slugging percentage). He OPSed .472 the rest of the way and finished the season at .772.

What Kryptonited our September Superman? For one thing, Loney wasn't as lucky in the final month of 2008. His batting average on balls in play was .227, compared to .393 in September 2007. But Loney's bad September wasn't just about balls not finding holes. Loney had four extra base hits in September 2008, compared to 17 (including nine home runs) in September 2007. He had three walks in September 2008 compared to nine in September 2007. His power and plate discipline just seemed to vanish.

Between these extremes lies the present-day James Loney, the one who has a career .833 OPS (114 OPS+) in more than 1,000 plate appearances before his 25th birthday. Like many hitters, he's streaky, and there's no doubt that 2008 overall ended up being a step back for him. His slugging percentage dropped more than 100 points, his homers dropped despite nearly 300 extra plate appearances, and his rate of grounding into double plays more than doubled (particularly early in the season: 18 of his 25 GIDP in 2008 came by the end of June).

I don't have a magic bullet – not for lack of searching - to kill the uncertainty over what went wrong. His line-drive, groundball and flyball percentages remained fairly consistent from year to year, as did his ratio of plate appearances vs. right-handed pitching. I don't know what pitches he was having trouble with. All I know is that for the first five months of 2008, despite playing every day in the major leagues for the first time in his career, Loney was pretty much as productive as he had been in the same period the year before. Each of the past two Septembers were aberrations.

Given his youth, his reputedly high marks for work ethic and an offseason to reflect on the previous year, I'm betting Loney resumes an upward trajectory in 2009.

Comments (150)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-11-20 09:57:18
1.   natepurcell
Is Junichi Tazawa any good?
2008-11-20 09:58:34
2.   ToyCannon
Maybe he was saving his Sept for Oct this season.
2008-11-20 10:01:31
3.   wronghanded
Nice write-up Jon, I think many DTers see Loney as a liability at 1B in comparison to expected production at the position. I think he's going to continue to improve and become one of our MVPs eventually. He reminds me a lot of a LH Derek Lee.
2008-11-20 10:02:15
4.   Bumsrap
Will posting on this thread create a new category of LAT'Dness? Should posting to a new thread that has been NPUTed as it opens be named after its first poster? Did Nate get NATED?
2008-11-20 10:09:12
5.   Alex41592
His grand slam in Wrigley made up for his September.
2008-11-20 10:18:41
6.   Kevin Lewis
Restaurants I miss in the SB area:

Cajun Kitchen
Summerland Beach Cafe
Via Vai
Chinese place on the Mesa (don't have the name)
Something Fishy (early bird special)
Trattoria Mollie
Mongolian BBQ (Ventura)

There are more, but now I am sad

2008-11-20 10:18:46
7.   regfairfield
In 2007 our centerfielder was the 14th most valuable player at his position offensively and had questionable, but ultimately average defensive value. He was used as the scapegoat for all of our problems.

In 2008 our first baseman was the 16th most valuable player at his position offensively and had questionable, but ultimately average defensive value.

It's entirely reasonable to say that James Loney will improve next year, but saying he had a bad year this year shouldn't be a controversial statement.

2008-11-20 10:23:41
8.   Eric Stephen
Magic Johnson will be on ESPN Radio with Tricio & Van Pelt probably in 15 or so minutes. There is an interview scheduled first with Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.
2008-11-20 10:23:58
9.   natepurcell
Here is a Tazawa video...

2008-11-20 10:26:07
10.   cargill06
adam (toronto): so the story about the Jays shopping Doc to the Dodgers in the NJ Star Ledger is fabricated ? Or is it a JP plant to get the wheels in motion ?

Keith Law: (1:24 PM ET ) I'm not saying "fabricated," just inaccurate. Doc has a full no-trade clause and last I heard he was very happy in Toronto.

2008-11-20 10:32:15
11.   Kevin Lewis

I think I saw a balk

2008-11-20 10:32:42
12.   Eric Stephen
Tazawa's no Mike Mussina.
2008-11-20 10:33:27
13.   bigcpa
Regarding my TMZ moment with Pedro Feliz yesterday... I just read he's having back surgery today in Marina Del Rey. He did seem a little nervous now that I think about it.
2008-11-20 10:39:23
14.   Lexinthedena
After his rookie year, I was sure Loney had more power than Mark Grace. Now I'm not so sure.

He may be a Will Clark type who has random years where he hit's a lot f home runs, mixed in with years like last year.

2008-11-20 10:42:45
15.   Eric Stephen
I'm pretty sure I liked Will Clark more than any other Giant ever. I'm not counting Hershiser, and I never saw Mays play, so they're out.

Clark was top 10 in HR from 1987-89 (his 2nd-4th seasons), then shifted into modified Keith Hernandez mode.

2008-11-20 10:44:51
16.   Xeifrank
6. That Mongolian BBQ in Ventura is nice and greasy! :)
vr, Xei
2008-11-20 10:44:59
17.   Lexinthedena
15 I was a huge Kevin Mitchell fan.
2008-11-20 10:48:54
18.   jasonungar07
I hated every giant. Matt Williams and Will Clark top the list. Bonds is on a level of his own in that department as well.
2008-11-20 10:50:01
19.   Kevin Lewis

MMMMMM Mongolian BBQ

2008-11-20 10:50:43
20.   Eric Stephen
My first year in fantasy baseball was 1992, and my team bombed that year. I had Clark on my team, and even though he had a really good season (150 OPS+), we used counting stats back then and here's what I got:

Runs: from 84 (1991) to 69
HR: from 29 to 16
RBI: from 116 to 73
Hits: from 170 to 154

His uptick in walks made his 1992 almost as valuable as 1991 (154 OPS+), but my fantasy team suffered because of it.

I also had Howard Johnson on that team. Paul Molitor and Bip Roberts (who had a 10 for 10 stretch that year) were my best players. Ugh.

2008-11-20 10:52:11
21.   kinbote
15 My favorite Giants:

1. Will Clark (in my lifetime, the only prettier swing was George Brett's)
2. Tim Lincecum
3. J.T. Snow (his defensive instincts were unworldly)
4. Jeff Kent (I liked his game even when he was on the Mets)
5. Armando Benitez (schadenfreude!)

2008-11-20 10:53:22
22.   wronghanded
18 Amen, I will never use such blasphemous terms as "like Giant" ever. Dave Roberts actually coached me in high school and I ran into him about a year ago and let him know that he was playing on the hated ones. Of course I wished him good luck for the upcoming season but I also said that I hope your team finishes last.
2008-11-20 11:03:09
23.   JoeyP
Sign Tex & trade Loney for Uggla.
2008-11-20 11:05:15
24.   Kevin Lewis
Anyone want to play Adventure Quest?
2008-11-20 11:05:25
25.   wronghanded
23 What about our rotation?
2008-11-20 11:05:31
26.   Patagent
Loney never had impressive power numbers in the minors so his Sept 2007 output is likely an aberration. It seems like power has always been the question with Loney.

His numbers are what you'd expect based on his up and down minor league numbers- around .300BA, 15 HR, 85-90 RBI's. With more HR's I'd expect him to reach 100 RBI's regularly.

I read an analysis earlier this year which reported that Loney's swing and miss rate is much lower than your typical power hitter. Jack Nicklaus once wrote in his book that young players should learn how to hit a golf ball as hard as they can first then learn to be accurate. I think Loney could benefit from being more aggressive in going the long ball.

2008-11-20 11:05:52
27.   Harold M Johnson
23 let's do it.
2008-11-20 11:06:00
28.   wronghanded
24 huh?
2008-11-20 11:08:25
29.   regfairfield
23 That doesn't seem like a good idea for the Marlins.
2008-11-20 11:09:09
30.   Eric Stephen
Damn, I had post 17 in the pool!
2008-11-20 11:09:39
31.   ToyCannon
Bobby Bonds was probably my favorite Giant that I got to see play. I only saw Mays after he was done.

Agreed but then he shouldn't be singled out either. All of the kids who had prior major league experience were disappointments offensively in 2008. I don't care how Martin's full season stats look, for 3 months all he could do was walk or hit a single. How he ended up batting cleanup in the biggest series in the last 20 years is still a mystery to me, as much as the Phillie pitching was a mystery to him.

I don't consider Ethier a kid, maybe I should but 26 seems like prime time to me.

2008-11-20 11:10:10
32.   cargill06
30 When the first Loney trade purposal comes up?
2008-11-20 11:11:21
33.   Eric Stephen
Getting warmer
2008-11-20 11:12:42
34.   Kevin Lewis

Scroll down

2008-11-20 11:12:55
35.   Jim Wilson

I miss Cupids Hotdogs. Are there any more in the LA area?

2008-11-20 11:16:02
36.   cargill06
33 The first JoeyP trade Loney post?
2008-11-20 11:16:47
37.   cargill06
35 There is one in my current residence of Canyon Country.
2008-11-20 11:17:03
38.   cargill06
37 The origanal CC
2008-11-20 11:22:24
39.   berkowit28
6 "Chinese place on the Mesa (don't have the name)"

"Szechuan Restaurant". I agree - almost totally unknown but probably the best Chinese restaurant in SB (not much competition, strangely, given the excellence of SB restaurants generally). And better than most of the other places on your list, except for Trattorie Mollie. If you meant the outpost downtown in Paseo Nuevo - I'm afraid that one's gone, really a pity. The main one is still going strong in Montecito, but it's in a different price range from all the places you listed (and in company with another 20 or so great, but also expensive, places you didn't mention), so I'm thinking you meant the late lamented one next to the Paseo Nuevo cinema. It was replaced by a so-so Mexican place for a very short time, and now it's something called Cahuna Grill - no patch on Mollie's.

2008-11-20 11:25:24
40.   mwhite06
35 If you are in the Valley, there was one on Nordhoff next to CSUN's campus.
2008-11-20 11:25:41
41.   ToyCannon
We complain about Ned giving up our guys for little return but Uggla and Quentin for a single A guy, who was packaged in the Haren deal is not much to show for that talent. Talk about blowing the Rule 5. It is even funnier now because they don't have a 2nd baseman. If you look at Uggla and his age 24 season struggling in AA you would think they made the right decision. How many guys who have struggled at age 24 in AA turn into all stars?

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick with the disdain for 25 year olds who pound the ball.

2008-11-20 11:28:32
42.   Kevin Lewis

Definitely a place that is not recognized too much out there (Chinese)

I meant the one in Montecito, and the two times I have eaten there, I was not paying. But overall it was an amazing experience.

I am still lamenting over the Chinese place that burned down in South Pasadena next to Round Table. Have they re-opened? They don't answer the phone

2008-11-20 11:29:25
43.   CanuckDodger
Dan Uggla, age 24: .259/.302/.354

James Loney, age 24: .289/.338/.434

The difference between Loney and Uggla at the same age? Loney was doing it in the majors, while Uggla was doing it in the Texas League -- the most hitter-friendly Double A league there is, and Uggla was in a home park (El Paso) that was an extreme hitters' park relative to league average to boot.

Honestly, the anti-Loney nonsense regularly spouted in this comments section by certain people is just pathetic.

2008-11-20 11:29:32
44.   underdog
39 That place is indeed really good. Since it's only a few blocks from my folks' place, they took me there a few years ago, and as one who has lived in San Francisco for a long while and become rather snobby about Asian food in general, I was pretty skeptical about a strip mall Chinese place in SB, but it is quite good. Mmmm. The Japanese place on the other strip across from there is also pretty good, if I recall. When I lived there when in HS there was nothing good on the Mesa other than that burger place on Cliff and the taqueria.
2008-11-20 11:29:46
45.   Humma Kavula
I'm reaching a Zen moment about Loney for the time being. There's not much point in handwringing about him. Barring injury or a complete Jonesian decline, he will start a lot of games for the Dodgers at first base next year.

If he improves, fantastic. I think everybody, including JoeyP, roots for this to happen. (JoeyP is skeptical that this will happen, but I don't think he's actually rooting for Loney to fail.)

If Loney stays the same (or gets worse), the Dodgers will address the situation after the 2009 season. Won't Loney be eligible for arbitration after next year? If so, the questions that the Dodgers will face include: how much will he be paid? What free agent 1Bs are on the market? Who will be free agents after the 2010 and 2011 seasons? Did the Dodgers make the postseason, and if not, was 1B production one of the reasons why? Are there any signs that Loney is progressing as a ballplayer, or do most signs point to this as his average level of production? Etc.

The point is that now is not the time to panic on Loney -- he's the 1B next year no matter what. It seems that the Dodgers believe that so long as Loney is very very inexpensive, they are better off in a wait and see mode, and I heartily endorse that for 2009.

Next year (as he starts to get a little more expensive), he'll either be better -- great! -- or he won't. If it's the latter, the team will start asking the hard questions about a player every one of us would like to see develop.

2008-11-20 11:29:50
46.   KG16
10 - JP for Roy Halladay? I'm going to ignore the whole "full no-trade clause" thing for a little while to dream about a rotation where the bullpen gets a day off once every five games.
2008-11-20 11:30:53
47.   underdog
I am quite happy with James Loney, btw, especially since I'm particularly confident that he's going to get better. I think some people feel like he's not going to get better and that his present isn't good enough. I'm not one of those.

Btw, speaking of Rule 5, any word on the Dodgers 40 man roster update?

2008-11-20 11:31:05
48.   ToyCannon
Obviously signing Teixeira.
2008-11-20 11:32:33
49.   ToyCannon
While ignoring the fact that ever since he was drafted he said he wanted to play back home. We shall see if that is true if he signs with the Orioles or Nat's. If he signs with the Angels I take back all the the thoughts of Joey being stubborn about this issue.
2008-11-20 11:34:04
50.   Andrew Shimmin
Loney for Uggla and Pierre for Halladay. It's like enabling commissioner mode in Baseball Mogul. All we need is a comic book mind control ray, and some deep fried bacon.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-11-20 11:34:35
51.   mintxcore
6 I haven't been most of those places but here is my shortlist:

Super Cucas
Natural Cafe (and cheap!)
SB Shellfish Company
Whaletail Deli (i dont htink its around anymore)
Greek Deli (which, heartbreakingly, is now a verizon store)
and of course, Blenders.

2008-11-20 11:34:55
52.   JoeyP
29- I was taking into account the Marlins cheapness with not wanting to pay Uggla. Would Loney + Elbert get the deal done?
2008-11-20 11:35:12
53.   ToyCannon
You also seem to be a bit stubborn in recognizing that Loney needs to improve a lot to be an average offensive 1st baseman. We hope it happens, you act like it is a given, and I fail to see where you get such confidence.
2008-11-20 11:37:08
54.   fanerman
Yeah, James Loney is slow, grounds into too many DP's, doesn't hit enough home runs, takes plays off on defense, but I still like him and expect him to get better next season.
2008-11-20 11:37:23
55.   ToyCannon
I think the Marlins are quite happy with Logan Morrison being their future 1st baseman while they try some cheap alternatives in 2009.
2008-11-20 11:38:15
56.   Ken Noe
Given the current "holes in the bucket," 1B is about the last thing we need to worry about this winter.

Favorite Giant: Alan Mitchell Edward George Patrick Henry "Dirty Al" Gallagher

2008-11-20 11:42:19
57.   Kevin Lewis

Oh man, Blenders singlehandedly ruined my future smoothie experiences. I cannot stand Jamba Juice or any other large smoothie company because of Blenders. I think they put one in Ventura, but when I lived in Carp, I always thought they would make a killing on Linden Ave towards the beach.

2008-11-20 11:48:19
58.   Humma Kavula
What is the VORP of an average 1B?
2008-11-20 11:49:18
59.   CanuckDodger
53 -- Wrong, I am quite aware of what an average first baseman produces and how far short of it Loney is right now, but I have insisted that that that is NOT the standard to measure Loney against. First base is not a position like catcher where a young player (like Martin) can come up and immediately be better than average in production simply because the average catcher's production is very low. The average first baseman is not 24-years old and making under $500,000 a year, like Loney was in 2008. Measure Loney against hitters his own age and in his salary bracket -- Jeremy Hermida, Jeff Francouer, Alex Gordon. All three of those guys were considered better prospects than Loney in the minors, and Loney out-shone them all this year.
2008-11-20 11:52:13
60.   ToyCannon
Sure, and I'd be being low on Hermida and Gordon right now. I understand your point.
2008-11-20 11:52:44
61.   cargill06
We've heard the arguments that Sabathia's contract is too important to his fellow players for him to turn down the most dollars. And it's hard to imagine that the Dodgers will attempt to beat the Yankees' total dollars. But one longtime friend of CC told Rumblings this week that if the dollars he's offered in California are "anywhere close [to the money in New York], he'll go there."

2008-11-20 11:55:53
62.   Humma Kavula
59 I really don't remember -- my memory is shot these days -- but didn't Francoeur and Gordon lose their jobs? And is Hermida's future certain?

Maybe I'm wrong about all that, and if so, you'll forgive and correct me, I hope. But the poitn is that when you compare him to those guys (hey, he's better than Jeff Francoeur!), I wonder if that's the best case for him.

But like I said, I'm Zen about it. There's no way that the Dodgers are doing anything about 1B this offseason. Let's see what Loney does next year.

2008-11-20 11:58:06
63.   oshea2002
54 - that is the key. Is Loney one of the NL's better 1B's? No. Is he likely to get better, and give us good production vs. $, ie - good value? I think so.

Could we upgrade at 1B? Sure. Are there other more important holes on this team, basically a 3 IF, an OF, and an SP spot? Yes.

I'm recalling an article Jon posted a while back about the frustration with the Dodgers having no discernable plan. That's how I feel at this point too. If they wanted to make a run at it next year, you bring back Raffy and probably Manny or Dunn, and find an SP, maybe even via trade. Probably not in the best interest of the franchise long term depending on the length of the deals, but at least we'd know theres a plan, and what it is. Conversely, if they said that due to the bad contracts, they'll sit out this year, have a transition year in 2009, try to build the farm system from picks they'll recoup from Lowe and Manny, see what guys like Hu, DeWitt, McDonald, etc can do, and gear up for a run in 2010 at some FA's, trades, etc, I'd be fine with that too. But I suspect they'll go with some middle ground strategy done on the fly. I'm not trying to be negative, but Ned hasn't really done anything that tells me there's a clear plan that will be executed.

2008-11-20 11:58:43
64.   cargill06
58 Of the 23 1B that "qualified" the average VORP was 33.3. Loney was at 20.9.
2008-11-20 11:59:47
65.   Kevin Lewis

I think this is an excellent point and a great way to go forward for this season.

2008-11-20 12:00:12
66.   Kevin Lewis
By the way, we won our championship game last night: 19-18
2008-11-20 12:01:30
67.   Humma Kavula
64 Is that average top-heavy, with the Pujolses and Youkili of the world bringing the average way up?
2008-11-20 12:03:24
68.   Lexinthedena
66 yes we did. I am wearing my shirt at work.
2008-11-20 12:03:44
69.   cargill06
58 , 64 My mistake I forgot about Casey Kotchman. The average 1B VORP last year was 32.2 in 624 PA's, Loney posted a 20.9 in 651 PA's. So, if you change Loney's production to 624 PA's his VORP is at 20.0.
2008-11-20 12:04:28
70.   cargill06
67 Yes, but the Bartons and Millars are bringing it way down.
2008-11-20 12:05:35
71.   Dave60
56 Wow, I didn't expect to see Dirty Al's name pop up. In '97, he was the manager for minor league of which I was part-owner. He was every bit as unwashed as the nickname implies, but a fun guy to be around. I fired him after the season and still feel badly about it. (He's now managing at Joliet in the Northern League.)

Like others, I don't think much about likable Giants. But living in the Bay Area, it's hard not to be charmed by the boyishness of Tim Lincecum.

2008-11-20 12:07:25
72.   Kevin Lewis

Definitely the most unexciting championship game I have ever won :)

2008-11-20 12:07:46
73.   Humma Kavula
70 Thanks very much.
2008-11-20 12:07:50
74.   Ken Noe
63 Ned had a clear plan this year: don't get fired. It worked. Next year: same plan. I fully expect to see more prospects moved eventually for downward-sliding short-term solutions like Blake and Maddux (if you want call the Professor a "solution.")
2008-11-20 12:08:19
75.   regfairfield
59 1st basemen age 25 or less who received at least 300 PA: Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, James Loney, Casey Kotchman, John Bowker, Chris Davis, Daric Barton. Isn't this a more fair peer group for Loney than picking failed prospects?
2008-11-20 12:10:02
76.   Kevin Lewis

You know, this is an excellent description of how I have been feeling about the future of the Dodgers. I know Jon wrote about it earlier. I was ready for 08 to be the regrouping/rebuilding year, but we went and signed Jones and Sweeney.

I would love for their to be a clear plan.

I am not fond of the plan in 74 , but I fear this is the plan

2008-11-20 12:10:50
77.   Bumsrap
I think the Dodger is to try to win now and keep repeating into the future. It is the execution that is messing with the plan.

The future part of the plan is to give young players opportunity now and they will take care of the future. The win now part of the plan was to mix veterans into the lineup. But Pierre and Jones failed to help, Schmidt, Furcal, and Nomar were injured, Kent and Sweeny were too far past their primes, and Penny disintegrated.

2008-11-20 12:15:57
78.   Ken Noe
76 I'm calling dibs on Nedster swapping prospects to Oakland for Holliday next summer.
2008-11-20 12:16:20
79.   Tripon
74 Except Ned doesn't have any more years on his contract.

Ned can't take a survival instinct and hope that McCourt doesn't hire him and eat years on his contract. Coletti's on his last year, and unless the Dodgers win the World Series, McCourt isn't going to feel the need to retain him, except by maybe Bill Plaschke, who doesn't even pay attention to the Dodgers half the time.

Ned Coletti can't just survive, he has to succeed and he has to produce to earn another contract extension. I don't see that happening, even with another post season birth.

Its more likely we're going to the reign of another GM before Ned is retained.

2008-11-20 12:17:12
80.   Bumsrap
For all those saying Loney is not awesome I have one question: Would you like your crow fried or baked come October, 2009?
2008-11-20 12:20:11
81.   cargill06
80 I hope you're right, but it's no given. The guy is a year removed from slugging .382 playing in the sandbox of Las Vegas. In 03-05 his slugging %'s were the following, .400, .327, and .419.
2008-11-20 12:20:35
82.   Lexinthedena
72 The confusion at the end robbed us of our opportunity to go crazy.
2008-11-20 12:22:33
83.   D4P
Do you have any vegetarian options, like, say, crowfu...?
2008-11-20 12:22:55
84.   Humma Kavula
80 I find that annoying. Frankly, Loney was not awesome -- last year.

He must improve. He may improve. All of us hope he will improve. Some are skeptical he will improve, and a tiny sliver of us think we should've cut bait on him already.

I'm not sure I've seen anybody in this thread say that Loney will not be good next year. Nobody knows what Loney will do next year. So with one exception, even if Loney hits like Pujols next year, I'm not sure anybody has any crow to eat next year.

2008-11-20 12:24:05
85.   CanuckDodger
75 -- Age 25 or less? Loney is not 25, so forget the 25-year-olds. Look at the gigantic difference between 24-year-old Carlos Quentin and 25-year-old Carlos Quentin. And Hermida, Francouer, and Gordon are not "failed prospects." You are being unrealistic in expecting every prospect to do really well right away in the majors, and from you that is surprising. Not so surprising from some other people, however.
2008-11-20 12:24:57
86.   Dodgers49
No decision for Kent

>> Second baseman Jeff Kent has yet to decide whether he will retire or return for his 18th season of Major League Baseball. <<

2008-11-20 12:25:54
87.   Kevin Lewis

I was so confused when he said 2 outs

2008-11-20 12:27:17
88.   regfairfield
85 Failed prospects wasn't the right word. Struggling. If I limit it to 24 year olds that leaves Votto, Fielder and Bowker. Is that fair?
2008-11-20 12:31:40
89.   Lexinthedena
87 Yes, very anti-climactic.

It was fitting when you take everything into consideration.

2008-11-20 12:35:48
90.   JoeyP
43- Canuck, as you state - recent information changes everything. Just like you use recent info to evaluate Penny, I'm doing the same with Loney/Uggla.
2008-11-20 12:37:51
91.   Ken Noe
79 We're on the same page--Ned will do what he needs to do to win in 2009 in hopes of an extension. If money is tight, he will ship off more young talent for grizzled stopgaps, and leave the mess for someone else to clean up. McCourt should have either extended him or fired him.
2008-11-20 12:40:30
92.   CanuckDodger
88 -- Fair enough. Bowker hit .255/.300/.408, so Loney easily beats him. Loney is not as good an offensive player as Fielder, obviously, but the gap separating them as whole players is probably smaller than it may first appear -- because Fielder is so bad defensively he is more DH than first baseman, and Fielder's future is a big question mark with his body being the way it is. Votto vs. Loney is actually something I have been thinking about a lot, because while Votto clearly out-hit Loney this year at the same age, Baseball America's Jim Callis said unequivocally after this season that he would rather have Loney than Votto, making me wonder if the scouts Callis talks to think Loney has the brighter future, and if so I'd like to know their reasons.
2008-11-20 12:46:51
93.   CanuckDodger
90 -- Unless your "recent information" is Loney suffering a terrible injury, your drawing an analogy to my position on Penny doesn't hold water. And I think you are missing my point: I am not saying that Uggla won't out-hit Loney in 2009. I am saying that Loney is four years younger than Loney and has far greater potential ahead of him, even past 2009, while Uggla may have already peaked at age 28 in 2008. I am not just concerned about "next year." I never am, frankly. I take longer views than that.
2008-11-20 12:48:38
94.   CanuckDodger
93 -- Loney is "four years younger than Uggla," I meant.
2008-11-20 12:51:05
95.   underdog
As we wait with great anticipation for the Dodgers updated 40 man roster, here's a useful review of Rule 5, for those who aren't clear on that:

2008-11-20 12:54:29
96.   JoeyP
I think at some point you have to trade potential for production.

If the Dodgers were to sign Tex & deal for Uggla, they'd have 1st/2nd locked up with All Star players for the next 4-5 years.

The opportunity cost is money & I respect that some would rather spend the Tex money on Manny/CC. Thats fine. But I see no reason to not pursue Tex bc James Loney is at 1st.

2008-11-20 12:55:14
97.   D4P
Don't discuss politics. What else is there to know?
2008-11-20 12:56:41
98.   underdog
97 Not that rule 5, silly rabbit.
2008-11-20 12:58:15
99.   Bumsrap

Sure and crow stew, crow dumplings, crow wings, anyway crow is preferred.

I am annoyed with people worried about a 24 year old not hitting like a 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, or 30 year old even though what he did as a 24 year old was good. If Loney were to have a much improved year in 2009 I am aware that the crow dinner a few might deserve will be a happy and celebrated dinner.

I plan to eat spicy crow wings should Loney not have a very good year in 2009.

2008-11-20 12:58:36
100.   Humma Kavula
96 But that's not right. We pursue CC because the difference in production between CC and his probably replacement (Stults?) is vastly greater than the difference between Teixeira/Uggla and Loney/DeWitt or whoever.

In that sense: you don't pursue Tex because you have Loney at 1B.

Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2008-11-20 13:06:06
101.   cargill06
96 I could be wrong, but isn't it expected that Tex's contract will exceed CC's? If we can't afford CC, how could we afford Tex?
2008-11-20 13:08:48
102.   Humma Kavula
99 The concern isn't that he's not hitting like somebody older than he is.

The concern -- as Jon writes -- is that he took a step backwards this year.

Or is your argument that he didn't take a step backwards? Does the increase in plate appearances trump everything else? Maybe it does. Make that case.

2008-11-20 13:16:49
103.   D4P
It's not as if Loney has good minor league numbers that make us think he's likely to be a good major leaguer.
2008-11-20 13:21:27
104.   Eric Stephen
The Rockies and D-Backs are talking about combining their evil forces and sharing a Hall of Doom, er, I mean spring training facility, either in Phoenix or Tucson or somewhere in the general vicinity.

I also want to go on record calling out the entire state of Arizona because I don't like how those two cities are spelled.

2008-11-20 13:21:37
105.   rockmrete
I'm with Joey P on this one. As much as I like Loney, I would rather have Tex. Tex instead of Manny because of their respective ages, and that Loney can be moved for something valuable easier than Pierre/Jones.

And because we are a big market team we should be able to add on both Tex, and CC, specially when you consider the money comming off the books the following year.

2008-11-20 13:24:22
106.   JoeyP
We pursue CC because the difference in production between CC and his probably replacement (Stults?) is vastly greater than the difference between Teixeira/Uggla and Loney/DeWitt or whoever.

I disagree.

CC+Loney+Dewitt < Kuo+Uggla+Teixeira

I also think the risk is less with the random 5th starter/Uggla/Tex, since Tex is less likely to get injured than CC.

2008-11-20 13:26:11
107.   JoeyP
Loney can be moved for something valuable easier than Pierre/Jones

This is key, since Loney's value will decrease as he become arbitration eligible and makes more money. Right now, the only attactive aspect of Loney is his salary.

2008-11-20 13:27:04
108.   ToyCannon
But isn't that misconception wrong? He had an awesome 22 year old season in AAA albeit in an offensive league. His age 20 in double AA left much to be desired, but he was 20 years old. At 19 he was already playing in a tough offensive league for High A. This guy was moved quickly for a high school player.

I really don't see how you couldn't have been a little disappointed in Loney's performance in 2008 after the promise he showed in 2007. I seriously doubt you expected an OPS from him of 772 in 2008.

2008-11-20 13:31:59
109.   ToyCannon
I wanted Miggy instead of Loney so I won't ridicule those who would rather have Tex then Loney. Teixeira is a heck of a player and probably a good bet as any to be productive the whole life of his contract.

It just ain't going to happen so that is why I've never bothered with the conjecture.

2008-11-20 13:36:47
110.   Eric Stephen
Still no word on the 40-man additions for the Dodgers, Rockies, or Giants, but here are today's other NL West additions to the 40-man:

Arizona (6)
RHP Cesar Valdez
RHP Jose Marte
SS Pedro Criaco
RHP Kyler Newby
LHP Leyson Septimo
LHP Clay Zavada (the guy Reg mentioned the other day: 11 baserunners & 54 K)

San Diego (6)
RHP Matt Bush
RHP Cesar Carrillo
RHP Jackson Quezada
LHP Cesar Ramos
C Jose Lobaton
OF Luis Durango

DePo has a blog post about these moves, although he doesn't go into great detail.

2008-11-20 13:37:03
111.   D4P
He sucked in A and 2 years of AA.

Then, in 366 ABs at Las Vegas (a huge hitters' park and/or league), he OPSed 972, with 8 HRs and a .380 BA.

If his AAA performance were indicative of a "good player", why was he terrible at A and 2 years of AA?

And, what's so great about OPSing 972 when you BA .380? Knock 80 points off the BA and you're at an 812 OPS.

2008-11-20 13:41:59
112.   Eric Stephen
BTW, John Sickels rated Valdez as the 4th best AZ prospect, with a grade of B-. None of the other new D-Backs were in his top 20.

2008-11-20 13:44:58
113.   CanuckDodger
111 -- Loney was injured then. I mean, really, you haven't read that stated here dozens of times? He had a broken wrist in Vero Beach, and he broke the middle finger on his left hand and tried to play through it.
2008-11-20 13:45:28
114.   cargill06
And, what's so great about OPSing 972 when you BA .380? Knock 80 points off the BA and you're at an 812 OPS.

Lower than that, if you're taking away 29 hits from him you're taking away XBH's also. If you look at the rate's in which he hits 2b's, 3b's, and HR's that year with a .300 BA his line is .300/.355/.432 for a .787 OPS

2008-11-20 14:03:03
115.   underdog
{sings} What's so great about OPS, love and understaaanding?
2008-11-20 14:05:07
116.   Tripon
If a baseball player bats .400, I don't care if his slugging is also .400.
2008-11-20 14:08:25
117.   D4P
If a baseball player bats .400, I don't care if his slugging is also .400

The issue is not how valuable hitting .400 is, but rather how well it predicts future performance. A player who bats .380 in a place like Las Vegas simply isn't likely to bat .380 in the majors. And, as it turns out, Loney's MLB BA is right around .300, which isn't very good when you combine it with mediocre ISOs.

2008-11-20 14:13:46
118.   regfairfield
That .380 did come with an amazing line drive percentage so it wasn't horribly out of line.
2008-11-20 14:14:42
119.   ToyCannon
111 &114
Really strange argument. If you want to normalize his BA then take into account his BABIP during that season but you can't just take away his hits to make a point.

Loney only needs to add 30 points to his OB and Slug to become average. That seems very doable. No one has suggested he is a 380 hitter in the major leagues but 310/365/465 seems very doable for him with an upside of 325/380/490.

2008-11-20 14:15:47
120.   Eric Stephen
Iiiii-van's son, the AFL was killing you
Oh, Iiiii-van's son
See you in June
2008-11-20 14:20:53
121.   Humma Kavula
Loney only needs to add 30 points to his OB and Slug to become average.

Is that correct? According to cargill's calculations in 69 , the average 1B had a VORP of 32.2. That means that the "averagest" 1B in the game last year was Carlos Pena, with a VORP of 33.0.

Pena hit .247/.377/.494 in 607 plate appearances.
Loney hit .289/.338/.434 in 651 plate appearances.

I don't know enough to know how much Loney's 44 exta PAs figure in to the difference between their VORPs... but I will say that the difference between their hitting -- 100 points of OPS -- is very substantial.

2008-11-20 14:24:29
122.   fanerman
Speaking of Dodgers first baseman... do some of you guys here also instinctively use the word "Ch-i" when typing on Dodger Thoughts? Or do you have to remember to type it in? If you use it instinctively, do you also think it and occasionally say it?
2008-11-20 14:27:39
123.   Harold M Johnson
So it sounds like O-dog is 5/50 and Furcal is 4/40. Assuming that both those players end up singing somewhere for something around those numbers, which (if any) of those deals do you do if you're the Dodgers?
2008-11-20 14:28:03
124.   underdog
120 Hah hah, nice.

Almost blue
Almost doing things we need to do
There's a pitcher here and CC's almost you
Almost all the things that your stats once promised
I see in his too
Now your eyes are red from crying

Almost blue...

2008-11-20 14:28:59
125.   Eric Stephen
[Bowing to the master]
2008-11-20 14:29:22
126.   D4P
It would be pretty (something, not sure what) if Furcal's performance in his 3-year deal with the Dodgers was enough to convince GMs that he is now worth 4 years.
2008-11-20 14:30:49
127.   Humma Kavula
121 Adding to that, I'll note that Derrek Lee hit very close to your "doable" projection for Loney in 119 with 698 plate appearances for a VORP of 30.8.

In other words, I believe that Loney has to hit a bit closer to your "upside" projection to be classified as an average MLB 1B. But I could be wrong.

2008-11-20 14:37:07
128.   Zak
126 The Furcal story is really something. Everyone assumed that the Dodgers and Furcal were taking a risk with a short-term expensive 3 year deal. The Dodgers could end up with a good player that they would lose after three years or Furcal could end up with a serious injury and forego a long term contract. Now it seems that the move was almost risk-free for Furcal.

He missed almost all year with a serious back injury that took forever to get better. Now he is worth 4/40? Well, I thought the Dodgers could have gotten him for 7/70 to 7/77 three years ago and that would have been a bargain I guess. So Furcal did not really end up "compromising" on anything last year.

Which brings up Schmidt and Jones... I have a feeling Schmidt is done. He may or may not pitch for the Dodgers again, but what happens if he comes back and has a 120IP, 107 ERA+ year. Does he get a 2/20 deal then? And Jones.. I still can't believe he is done for good. If he coms back and has a 2007 like year, what is his market value next year? 3/39?

2008-11-20 14:37:09
129.   ToyCannon
Just using OPS. Not knowing how VORP is calculated because BP has never released that info. Number of 1st baseman with an OPS over 850 who played 100 games. We have 30 teams in the league.
Year Players
2001 16
2002 13
2003 7
2004 14
2005 13
2006 15
2007 10
2008 13

In 2005 the 13th player had an OPS of .870, the next closest was .813. That is a strange gap.

Forget average, just saying I'd be happy if Loney can OPS between .830 - .870 over the next several seasons.

2008-11-20 14:37:25
130.   underdog
125 Hey, I'm waiting for your Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes interpretation. ;-)
2008-11-20 14:38:31
131.   Zak
So Furcal did not really end up "compromising" on anything last year.

I meant 3 years ago, and I don't mean to imply Furcal or his agent somehow knew all this. Just funny how the market played out, I guess.

2008-11-20 14:39:02
132.   Humma Kavula
130 I've been saying for years that "I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused" is a fantastic sentence to describe my feelings about the Dodgers.
2008-11-20 14:41:06
133.   ToyCannon
I've forgotten, does VORP take into account park effects. For whatever reason DS played like a pitchers park in 2008 after I spent all winter telling people it was no longer a pitchers park but a neutral park.
2008-11-20 14:41:10
134.   Brent Knapp
101 To me, even though Tex will cost more, he is more 'affordable' because he is less of a risk. It is more likely that CC (in a six year contract) will at some point be seriously injured/ineffective than Tex (even if he's signed for 8 or 9 years.) Tex may cost more but there is less of a chance of his contract really hurting us like Schmidt's.

I'm only trying to answer your question, not be an advocate for Tex. I'm pro-Loney, and I don't think we should sign Tex.

I promise to stop saying Tex as soon as I learn to spell Mark's name.

2008-11-20 14:41:58
135.   ToyCannon
ei twice just like rolling dice
2008-11-20 14:44:25
136.   Tripon
Pete (Philly): does VORP take defense into account?

SportsNation Keith Law: No, but it does factor in the player's position, comparing his value to the "replacement level" (I think 80% of the average) for that position.

2008-11-20 14:45:24
137.   Tripon
KO (Pittsfield, MA): If Carlos Santana is so great, how did the Indians land him for Blake?

SportsNation Keith Law: The Dodgers have Martin, Colletti doesn't value prospects that highly, and Santana (like a few other prospects dealt midyear, like Tabata) really took off after the deal.

2008-11-20 14:45:35
138.   cargill06
121 . 129 My average VORP for a 1B maybe skewed. I just used qualifing 1B as the way to find the average. If you use every major league 1B PA that number would surely drop. ToyCannon is correct, if Loney's OBP and SLG increased 30 points each, it would've given him a OPS+ of 118, the ML avg. OPS+ for a 1B is 118.

119 I wasn't making the argument, just pointing out if you take away 29 hits, you're also taking away XBH's.

2008-11-20 14:45:51
139.   Zak
What do you think K-Rod will get this off-season and where will he end up? The Mets or any team at this point would be crazy to offer anything close to 5/75? Does he get 5/60? To be honest, I'd be reluctant to even do 4/48 and I would not be shocked if he ended up in ANA for something like 3/39.
2008-11-20 14:46:48
140.   Humma Kavula
134 But as Eric Enders has argued, CC really isn't that much of a risk. Sure, he could blow out his arm. That could happen with any pitcher. But he's not likely to go down the tubes, a la Zito. As Enders says, deals to premiere pitchers like Sabathia just about always work out.
2008-11-20 14:47:32
141.   Tripon
Chris (Chicago): You really loved the Santana-Blake deal for the Indians when it happened though. What did you see in Santana that the Dodgers apparently missed?

SportsNation Keith Law: A catcher with good plate discipline, good defense, and a short contact-oriented swing. I doubt that the Dodgers missed it, so much as didn't value it properly.

2008-11-20 14:47:45
142.   ToyCannon
That is just flat out wrong. Carlos Santana won the Cal League MVP based on his stats with the Dodger affiliate. No one payed attention until he was traded but that is a different story.
2008-11-20 14:48:21
143.   D4P
if you take away 29 hits, you're also taking away XBH's

It's a good point. My mind always subtracts 1 point off OBP and 1 point of SLG for a 1-point subtraction in BA, but that assumes that all the hits are singles, which doesn't make sense. It's more reasonably to subtract more than 1.0 SLG points for each 1 BA point.

2008-11-20 14:48:56
144.   Humma Kavula
129 138 OK, these two posts convince me. We're looking for a 60-point OPS increase, not 100 points.

Thank you, both.

2008-11-20 14:49:05
145.   Zak
Sub-question to 139 , will Gagne be on a ML roster on 4/5/09? If so, where and for how much?
2008-11-20 14:49:55
146.   ToyCannon
Plus I think we need a pitcher like CC more then we need a hitter like Teixeira. Plus I love to watch CC play baseball. Teixeira is good at baseball but no one is buying a ticket to watch him play baseball.
2008-11-20 14:50:14
147.   Jon Weisman
2008-11-20 14:50:20
148.   Eric Stephen
Rockies have announced their 40-man additions:

RHP Samuel Deduno
RHP Shane Lindsay
RHP Ryan Mattheus
SS/3B Hector Gomez
SS Chris Nelson (2004 1st round pick #9)
2B Eric Young, Jr.

2008-11-20 14:50:47
149.   cargill06
138 Correction a it would put him at 117. 1 shy of average, but the *lgOBP and *lgSLG at DS was way down last year (that's why it rated as a pitchers park). It may spike up again next year, making more of an increase needed to "average 1B"
2008-11-20 14:52:03
150.   Tripon
Mr. Food: Keith, sorry to correct you, but as a CIA trained chef, your stuffing assessment is actually incorrect. 325 at 15-20 minutes per pound will cook the bird and stuffing perfectly.

SportsNation Keith Law: That's the advice you'll get in most cookbooks. It's wrong, not least because the cooking time-weight relationship is nonlinear.

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