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Is James Loney finally on the rebound?

James-loney_350 James Loney may have usurped Matt Kemp this season as the most divisive Dodger, if for completely different reasons.

But mention Loney’s name to team followers, and they almost sprint into different camps: 1) No way can the Dodgers continue with a first baseman who lacks power and hasn’t hit since last July; or 2) He’s a reliable RBI guy who can hit .290 and play an excellent first base.

The anti-Loney group has gained steam since he went into the tank last August, then hit .208 in April.

But the shrinking pro-Loney contingent has gained hope by his recent play, and if it still won’t be confused with Ryan Howard, it’s certainly vast improvement.

After hitting .208 in April with a .241 on-base percentage and .238 slugging percentage, Loney has come back in May with .278/.345/.380.

Friday night he hit only his second home run of the season -- and first in 45 games -- and has now hit safely in 11 of 13 games.

Loney admits his slow start had troubled him.

"It’s not fun and it bothers you, but, you know, they schedule 162 games for you to play," he said. "You struggle for the first month, hopefully I got that out of the way."

Six of those last 11 hits have gone for extra bases. He may never be a home-run hitter, but the Dodgers need him to drive the ball. Even when he initially started his resurgence, he was mostly hitting singles.

"I’ve never heard of a bad hit," Loney said. "But obviously you want to hit he ball harder more often."

Loney is hopeful he’s turned the corner on his 2011 season. The Time's T.J. Simers is one of those who have suggested if Loney was unable to turn things around, he could go non-tendered in the offseason.

"I feel confident in what I’m doing," he said. "I still have to go out and battle, hit tough pitching and see where it goes.

"But it feels really good. It’s been a process. Sometimes you want it to happen sooner, to get back to how you hit the ball, and sometimes it just happens a little later than you want."

Sometimes it happens, and camps remain divided.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers first baseman James Loney and Marlins pitcher Javier Vazquez watch Loney's solo home run in the second inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (15)

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Loney is the least of the Dodgers problems today.
McCrappy owner, now there's a dead horse to flog.
This team stinks like road kill.

Loney has Chattanooga written all over him.

It wasn't that long ago people were having similar conversations about Ethier. Funny... I don't see so many of those people around any more. Performance cures all. Give Loney a chance and I have no doubt he'll come around and work out just fine. The only reason he gets non-tendered is the same reason Martin did. The owner at the time is terrified of the raise he'll get through arbitration.

A lot of this so-called tough pitching has been against guys with ERAs of 5+...
90+ RBIs a year - bad stat. Look at his others batted in (OBI) percentage. That's a truer gauge of his ability to drive in runs. When you come up with as many runners on base as he does year in and year out, he should be at 105+ RBI per year. Saying Loney drives in 90 RBI is like saying Juan Pierre gets 190 hits a year - when you have that may opportunities, how can you now put up those minimal numbers?


I've watched Loney try at times this year to uppercut and clobber the ball, and it doesn't get to the warning track. The camera then shows him running to the dugout, and the look on his face reveals disappointment. I think he has Russell Martin disease, whatever that was. If the Dodgers can trade him to the Yankees, where no doubt he'll hit .300/25/120, maybe they can get a reliever back.

As far as these losers not being able to afford Ethier and Kemp, they had better not be occupying any position of authority when those decisions come around, MLB.

I think Kyle Russel down in Chattanooga should be brought up and given some AB's and see what he can do. I like his power potential

I would like to see Kyle Russell get some AB's during the course of the year and let's see what he can do.

Hopefully new 2012 Dodger ownership will let Prince (Fielder) Albert (Pujols) out of the can to play first base.

Re: Kyle Russell - Love the power, but the guy strikes out a third of the time. Pretty sure MLB pitchers would chew him up and spit him out.

I love his glove work, but his bat is limp.

That's what she said.

It's a tough one, all we can do is watch. If Loney can continue to hit the way he has over the last 13 games, I think everything will get back to normal. As you mentioned he'll never be a consistent HR hitter. The HRs will have to come from another position.

When Loney first came up I thought he was going to be better than Kemp or Either. Obviously that hasn't happened. But until the All Star game last year he was a solid ball player good for 90 RBI a season and an excellent fielder. For reasons I don't understand, his critics have always pounced on him for lacking home run power because of some unwritten edict among baseball followers that first baseman are supposed to hit a lot of home runs. His fall the last half of last season and into the first third of of this year has his critics asking for his scalp and talking about him being non-tendered next year. Now that his hitting has picked up and, hopefully, he can get back to the way he was earlier in his career, I think there is an important place for him on the team. Give the guy a break. He might surprise you.

Loney is fine at first base, if we go and get a power guy for left field. Jason Kubel from Minnesota (a So Cal guy from Palmdale) is a good power guy who could play RF for the Dodgers and then Ethier could go back to his natural left field position. If you placed Kubel in the Dodger lineup it all of a sudden changes in terms of power ability when healthy: Furcal, Blake, Ethier, Kemp, Kubel, Uribe, Loney, Barajas/Navarro. Then, Miles, Carroll, Thames, Gibbons, Gwynn, etc seems like a better bench. Kubel is NOT Manny in terms of the numbers he would put up, but he is better than anyone that will arrive here from Albuquerque or Chattanooga or Rancho Cucamonga for the next two years.

Kyle Russell and Blake Smith are the power OF guys in the minors, who need two more years to get to L.A. They are both former college guys (Russell from Texas and Smith from Cal). The other good minor league outfielders are Trayvon Robinson (who will probably be a late-season call up), Angelo Songco, Alfredo Silverio, Scott Van Slyke and other prospects like Leon Landry, Bobby Coyle, and Jonathan Garcia. These guys are all good hitters, but they are doubles guys, or speed guys, etc. Robinson has shown more power this year, but he is playing at altitude in Albuquerque.

Make the deal for Kubel - The Twins have bigger bullpen issues than us - give them Troncoso, Schlicting (now that he has to be moved), and Van Slyke (great pedigree - son of former MLB OF Andy).


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