Blog Entry

Dodgers benching Loney against left-handers

Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:31 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 11:59 am

By Evan Brunell

The Dodgers appear resigned to benching James Loney against left-handers, according to Loney's promising play in 2006 and '07 have given way to dispiriting performances at first base. He has a .241/.292/.310 line so far in 2011, and the Dodgers are getting frustrated.

Loney's .173/.228/.192 line against left-handers bears out a pathetic .188 wOBA (Fangraphs' version of OPS, scaled to OBP) which is seventh-worst in all of baseball. Despite that futility, manager Don Mattingly isn't willing to bench Loney completely against left handers.

"I can't say it's a straight platoon, but we're trying to find more offense," Mattingly said. "James kind of hasn't thumped lefties and we've got to find extra runs here and there."

On Wednesday against Cole Hamels, usual third-baseman Casey Blake shifted to first base with Juan Uribe manning third, freeing up second base for the hot Jamey Carroll. When Loney starts against lefties, Blake will likely return to third with Uribe and Carroll sharing time at second.

Loney's benching against lefties hides a bigger issue: his constant tinkering with his batting stance that could be harming his numbers as he hurtles his way toward a likely non-tender in the offseason. Already making $4.875 million on the year, Loney isn't worth that salary currently and won't be worth the raise he would be sure to get in his final year of arbitration unless he can find a way to get going offensively. That won't happen as long as Loney won't allow himself to settle into a stance.

"He's rolling and the next day it's like, Uncle Harry got to him overnight and he's got a different stance," said Mattingly. "Sometimes it changes from at-bat to at-bat. To be consistent, you stay with your base. But if it's not working, you can't expect to change [results] without changes."

Mattingly added that sometimes Loney's explanations for changing his batting stance don't make sense, but Loney comes from a good place in his reasoning.

"I'm sure he's trying to be better than he's been," Mattingly said. "You always try to get better. Sometimes you're an inch away and you make a foot-long change. That's what scares you. I'm talking from experience."

So when will Loney go back to starting full-time against lefties?

"I hate to say what I'm going to do when I don't really know," Mattingly said. "There's nothing wrong with a little competition. We've got to find a way to put up more runs. I think James is a confident kid and it's not a matter of me not believing in him. But there's never anything wrong with competition. You've got to continue proving yourself. There's always somebody coming. Put up the numbers. You've got to perform. There really are no free rides. You know it's there with James, you've seen it. But it's not about yesterday, it's about today."

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Category: MLB
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:46 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 10, 2011 12:51 am

Dodgers benching Loney against left-handers

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 9:40 pm

Dodgers benching Loney against left-handers

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Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2011 8:41 pm

Dodgers benching Loney against left-handers

And as I say that, Jerry Sands gets demoted to Triple-A, with Tony Gwynn getting the start in LF tonight.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2011 4:04 pm

Dodgers benching Loney against left-handers

I love the fact that James Loney is finally getting told to ride the pine, but.. Casey Blake on firsty may not be the best option.

Jerry Sands came up to play ball, and now that Marcus Thames is back (K machine), Sands is sitting on the pine too. Odds are, when Loney gets non-tendered after this season, Sands is going to be the guy taking over at 1st bag, so why not give him time there now? He needs regular at-bats, or he's just wasting time up in the big leagues.

The writer touched on the infield shifting accross when Blake goes to 1st, opening up time for Carroll at second and Uribe at third. Maybe Uribe doesn't even deserve full-time at-bats himself, look at how awful he's playing.

We've got under-achievers in the lineup who aren't playing like they want their job, and a young kid who needs playing time sitting on the bench. If Sands won't get a shot, send him back to the minors and let him develop more. It's not what I want personally, i'd like to see these over-exposed veterans get put in their place, but..I don't make the calls.

Since: Nov 28, 2006
Posted on: June 9, 2011 2:22 pm

Dodgers benching Loney against left-handers

When Blake's notorious bad back flairs up, I would think a Sands/Loney platoon could be an excellent opportunity to test the big right handed batter out at 1B more regularly.  It looks like Loney won't be in Dodger blue next spring.  Good time to see if Sands can be the man, more than the 37 year old Blake.

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