Of the three runs the Dodgers scored tonight, two came off the bats of regular whipping boys James Loney (a homer, no less!) and Dioner Navarro, who drove in Casey Blake with a pinch-hit single in the 9th. Shocking, breaking news, indeed.
Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Heyman lays some knowledge on us:
Executives say Dodgers first baseman James Loney is a likely non-tender candidate as his power has not yet developed as hoped.
Shockingly, the first baseman who is already making $4.875m this year, has another year of arbitration left, and has declined in each year of his career while hitting .238/.286/.287 this season might not be offered a contract next year. I know! It’s almost like every statisticial metric available doesn’t rate him as being at or near the worst first baseman in the game, right?
Seriously though, I’ve barely even mentioned the idea of Loney being non-tendered because it seemed like such a foregone conclusion at this point. Remember, there was serious consideration given in some corners of the internet to non-tendering him after last year (I proposed trading him for LHP Tom Gorzelanny, and using the money spent on Jon Garland elsewhere), and now that he’s more expensive and less productive, his non-tender seems absolute, particularly since any hope of suckering a team into trading for him seems impossible now that they don’t even have shiny RBI totals to dream on.
Heyman’s wrong about one thing, though: it’s not just that his power isn’t there. That may have been the issue in years past, but clearly it’s far more serious than just that in 2011. I had wanted to end this post with some” to Loney’s credit, even though the power isn’t there, he has been better in recent weeks” positivity, but looking at the numbers, that’s barely true: in May, he’s hitting .276/.345/.342 (.687). Better than April’s .489 OPS? Sure. Good? Ah, not really. Not unless he keeps up that trend and somehow has an OPS of .888 in June, which is probably about as likely as me having an .888 OPS in June.
Still, there continues to be no obvious alternative to playing him, at least not until Trayvon Robinson is ready – and he just ended an 0-25 streak in ABQ. So play him they will, in hopes that he can find even a tiny bit of his lost value. But as Heyman has just figured out, non-tender-ville awaits.
One year ago today, I made two posts on this site. One was very happy, where I was able to share the news that Ramon Ortiz had finally been dumped in favor of Justin Miller, whom I never thought got enough credit for striking out 3.75 times as many as he walked while a Dodger.
The second post? It was about John Ely picking up the loss despite making it into the 8th inning allowing just one run. That’s the one that haunts me a little bit, because if you remember, the 2010 season started off with ridiculous amounts of offense that the patchwork pitching staff couldn’t support. Ely’s game and one by Clayton Kershaw just before it was the start of the current “good pitching, no offense” era we’re currently in, and at the time, I said I liked that problem a whole lot better:
Yet as depressing as it is to see such great pitching performances going to waste, I feel a whole lot better about these losses than the ones we saw in April. Remember early in the season, when the Dodger offense was kicking ass and taking names – yet it didn’t really matter, since the pitching was so terrible?
And what did all of that fantastic offense get us? A 9-14 April record. At the time, you knew that the offense would eventually come back to earth a bit, but you couldn’t be equally sure that the pitching would turn it around.
Now, we’re seeing pitching that’s not only improved, but seems to be a good bet to keep it going. Chad Billingsley and Kershaw have found their grooves, Ely’s been a revelation, and both Ortizes are gone. Meanwhile, the offensive failure of the last few days can be seen as a bump in the road for a still-dangerous group – especially when Andre Ethier‘s return is imminent.
Of course, Ethier wasn’t the same, Manny Ramirez got hurt, Loney cratered, Matt Kemp couldn’t keep up his tremendous April, and the front office answers to those concerns consisted of Ryan Theriot and Scott Podsednik. And we’ve been living with the same conundrum ever since. If only I could go back in time and warn myself.
The Rockies finally DFA’d Jose Lopez earlier today, in addition to sending Felipe Paulino to Kansas City for cash. Hmm, a middle infielder from a division rival with horrendous on-base skills and some mild pop, while playing decentish defense at multiple positions? Sounds like he deserves a three-year, $21m contract, no?
Javier Vazquez starts for Florida against Garland tonight, and that’s interesting for one reason. Vazquez has been awful this year (5.30 xFIP and basically as many walks as strikeouts), and he was was even worse with the Yankees last year. But he’s never had a day as bad as April 19, 2003, when he became part of the sad select fraternity of “pitchers who have allowed a home run to Juan Castro“. In the last five years, Castro has six homers, and not a single one has come in over two years. Tonight could be the night!