With the Dodgers, first baseman James Loney seemed to be constantly tinkering… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
JAMES LONEY, 28, first base
Final 2012 stats: .249 batting average, six home runs, 41 RBIs, .293 on-base and .336 slugging percentages in 434 at-bats.
Contract status: A free agent.
The good: He’s gone. Sorry, that’s too harsh. Played some excellent defense. Actually hit better as a Dodger (.254) than a Red Sox (.230). In his Loney-esque way, stayed jovial throughout his hitting trials.
The bad: Easily had worst season of his six-year career. Continued to decline in every offensive area. Somehow managed to peak at age 26. Also, if you seem him in a Maserati on the freeway, steer clear.
What’s next: Well, that will be interesting, at least for him. He was pretty much overlooked in the blockbuster Aug. 25 trade that brought the Dodgers his replacement, Adrian Gonzalez, plus pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto.
He became the Red Sox's de facto first baseman, but hardly turned things around in Boston. Now the Red Sox are reportedly looking at signing Mike Napoli or Adam LaRoche to play first. Since Loney made $6.375 million last season, safe to say he will be looking at a significant salary cut, assuming somebody actually wants him.
The take: Hey, I’m gonna miss Loney. Not his career .419 slugging percentage -- and still headed down! -- but his being a flash point with new-stat lovers and traditional baseball followers.
His declining numbers the last two seasons no longer made the argument viable, but it was fun when he was driving in 90 runs a year but hitting only 13 homers. OK for a first baseman? Not close. I’ll miss those days.
Loney proved the most vexing of the once-young Dodgers, a smooth-swinging first baseman who never fully lived up to his perceived potential. He continually seemed to tinker with his swing, which pretty much everyone but him found maddening.
In the clubhouse, he was well liked and sometimes had a goofiness about him that could be endearing. Of course, there were also those who viewed it as something less than a fully competitive and focused athlete, doomed to underachieve.
He did give us a truly memorable quote, even if it was five years ago. After Jeff Kent questioned the professionalism of the younger players, Loney was asked if it bothered him to be criticized by one of the team leaders, Loney said:
“Who said he was a leader?”
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