Friday, August 05, 2011

Like Sands Through The Hourglass, So Are The Days Of Our Loney

Couple of articles from the LA Times, which when juxtaposed spell a different look for the Dodgers at first, possibly soon. First, James Loney, the current inhabitant at first base. Steady and unfazed, but also lacking in power and slumping for the second time this season, Loney knows his days may be numbered:

James Loney saw what happened to Russell Martin last winter.

Martin was in line for a raise, but his production was declining. The Dodgers let go of the two-time All-Star catcher, who went on to sign with the New York Yankees.

Loney could be subjected to a similar fate at the end of the season. Because he is eligible for salary arbitration, he is expected to receive a significant raise from his 2011 salary of $4.875 million if the Dodgers tender him a contract.

"They have a decision to make, and I want it easy on them to bring me back," Loney said. "But I have to play well; I have to play up to my talent level."

First, he has to play, period.

Loney was out of the lineup for the Dodgers' game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Wednesday night, as Manager Don Mattingly opted to start Juan Rivera at first base and bat him fifth.

With Loney batting a career-low .251 with a modest 34 runs batted in, Mattingly said he had to turn to someone else to adequately protect cleanup hitter Matt Kemp.

Mattingly said he plans to play Rivera in most games, either at first base or in left field. On days such as Wednesday, when Mattingly wanted to start defensive wizard Tony Gwynn Jr. in left field because of the number of right-handed hitters in the Padres' lineup, Loney will sit.

Loney said he understands.

"I think whoever's playing well is going to play," he said. "That's how it should be."

Loney had a particularly rough July, batting .176 and driving in five runs.

But the affable and quirky first baseman has maintained his sense of humor.

"Matt Kemp's been taking a lot of my RBIs," he said. "You can put 'LOL' behind that."

I'm glad that Loney can keep his sense of humor. Because right around the corner is the one Dodgres prospect Ned Colletti hasn't traded away: Jerry Sands, who is getting looks at first base, not just outfield:

Like James Loney doesn’t need more bad news.

Down at triple-A, guess who’s suddenly playing a lot of first base?

Hoped for wunderkind Jerry Sands.

Sands is the one prodigy the Dodgers are hoping can provide future power. He is their reigning Minor League Player of the Year. He is the star they need to rise.

They also need to figure out what’s his best position, or maybe where their biggest need is.

If the Dodgers determine it simply doesn’t make financial sense to tender Loney this offseason, that leaves them without a regular first baseman. Certainly, without a long-term one. They might think about bringing Juan Rivera back as a stop-gap, but it would have to be at a substantial cut from the $5.25 million he’s earning this season.

Sands’ normal position is outfield. He has mostly played right field for the Albuquerque Isotopes, but lately spent more time at first.

Even with Isotope outfielder Trayvon Robinson traded Sunday, Sands has started the last three games at first. He’s started at first 27 times this season to 44 in the outfield, but he’s trending more toward first base.

This doesn’t mean the Dodgers have decided Loney is definitely out and Sands is being groomed as his replacement. It does mean the Dodgers are at least wisely giving themselves options.

Sands rising, Loney fading? This may be the only race left for the Dodgers this 2011 season.


Loney Fan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loney Fan said...

If Loney leaves, do I then change my screen name? Or do I have to go follow a different team?

Steve Sax said...

whatever you do, don't change your avatar

Pride of Dong said...

Sands better stay an isotope till next tuesday. I already bought tix for when they come to play the grizzlies here in fresno!

Neeebs (The Original) said...

@LF: I'll send you my Loney Bobblehead and you can put it in your shrine. Thereafter, you change your name to KempFan or KershawFan. And as Sax says, don't change your Avatar.

Fernie V said...

@neebs and LF, change it to UribeFan so we can get rid of him. Don't jinx matt or kershaw.

Fernie V said...

During Spring Training they had a cool Loney hat for kids, glad I didn't buy it.

Pride of Dong said...

Yeah my avatar was Ely and see what happened??!!?!