James Loney hasn't exactly set Hollywood ablaze with his hitting prowess; can he still cash in on his mediocrity?
For reasons I don't entirely comprehend, James Loney has been on my mind of late. His skill set is unusual for a first baseman, and although some players have parlayed similar skills into a successful big-league career, such players are few and far between.
In last week's light-hearted preview of the NL West, I quipped that Loney should star in a show called “Being Doug Mientkiewicz.” Marginally amusing one-liners aside, the truth is that Loney is a better hitter than Mientkiewicz, though this is hardly cause for celebration among Dodgers fans. Set the bar low enough and everything looks good.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The Orioles forget to look at the sell-by date, the Blue Jays lock up their franchise player, the Devil Rays move stealthily along at the bottom, and those two other teams bring Japanese players to America for Christmas.
Despite bunting into a ninth inning double play the other night, the Braves' Adam LaRoche is having a nice season. Is it for real?
David Adam LaRoche was selected in the 29th round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves out of Seminole State Community College. He was a pitching prospect when drafted, but the Braves converted him to offense. This looked like an intelligent switch in LaRoche's first professional appearance for Rookie League Danville, as he hit .308/.381/.507 in 201 at-bats, walking in just over 10 percent of all plate appearances.
For his efforts, LaRoche was promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach. As a 21-year old, LaRoche hit a paltry .251/.295/.361, with his walk rate dropping to 6 percent of all plate appearances while his strikeout rate climbed to almost 22 percent. He also only managed 7 home runs, matching the previous season's total in 271 additional at-bats.
Who knew January had something left in the tank? The Marlins and Mets get first basemen, the White Sox get a second baseman, and Kevin McClatchy makes mewling sounds.
"What [Delgado's] going to do is take the pressure off those guys. There was a lot of pressure on the kid [Cabrera] and Mike [Lowell], especially at the beginning of the year when Jeff [Conine] got off to a slow start and before we got [Paul Lo Duca]. Now you're kind of balancing it out." --Marlins manager Jack McKeon on the addition of Delgado their lineup (Miami Herald)
The Red Sox and Angels might be the two best teams in baseball right now. Unfortunately, one of them is six days away from golf season.
The Sox come into the series with the advantage of having set up their rotation over the season's final week. There's no research that shows this to be an edge, although it's easy to remember cases of recent teams--the '00 A's, the '98 Cubs--who were certainly hurt by the need to play meaningful games all the way through the end of the regular season. Given a choice between being on-rotation or off, you would choose to be on, and preferably the way that the Sox were able to manage their final week of the regular season.
Derek Zumsteg takes a closer look at Boston's Mientkiewicz-to-second-base experiment, and likes the risk-taking by the Sox.
There are enough barriers to this kind of move to make it tough to pull off even when there isn't that kind of pressure. Some players aren't willing to try another position, for fear of embarrassing themselves, or because they don't want to try something more demanding, or because they're not comfortable enough. Managers don't want to play someone out of position for fear of looking stupid for trying something. But in Boston? Where even the hyper-critical media acknowledges that the atmosphere is too negative? Where fan reaction runs between bitter, expected disappointment and feverish loyalty?