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Tag Archives: James Loney

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I can’t say that I’ve ever thought highly of Derek Lowe, his brilliant signing notwithstanding. As dependable as he’s been the four years he’s been here, there’s just something about the guy that I just don’t like. Nonetheless, he’s been arguably the Dodgers’ best free-agent signing of recent note. He signed a four-year, $32 million deal after being unceremoniously jettisoned by the 2004 WS Champion Red Sox — this after pitching well in the clinching games of the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series.

Former GM Paul DePodesta was 100% right about Lowe — this groundball specialist would thrive at Dodger Stadium, and even signed him to a very modest contract to boot.

Lots to love about Lowe, statistically speaking. Outside the lines, he’s been a grade-A scumbag. He divorced the mother of his children, whom he left behind on the east coast, so that he could continue his affair with former FSN West reporter Carolyn Hughes, and bemoaned (along with Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez) management’s choice to hold on to the “kids” in 2007 in lieu of trading them away for a trade-deadline rental.

Haven’t heard much of Lowe this year, which incidentally, is a contract year for him. Either he’s happy that so many of his 2004 Red Sox teammates are now Dodgers (Nomar, Manny, advisor to the GM Bill Mueller), or he knows he needs to keep his trap shut and avoid controversy considering he’s old (2009 will be his 36-year-old season) and probably still wants another multi-year deal.

That said, given the Dodgers’ offensive malaise — whole lot of change Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake did for the team — it’s surprising that he was so forgiving of the their inability to score recently. After yesterday’s loss to the 39 games under .500 Nationals, Lowe had this to say:

“I think, in this game, trying harder normally doesn’t get you anywhere, and I think that’s such a hard thing to fight,” he said. “You can’t give 110 percent. I think that’s where we are. There’s no lack of preparation, there’s no such thing as guys not trying. I think, as a collective group, sometimes you’ve got to try less to get more.

Knowing how quick everyone involved with the Dodgers has been willing to betray and blame Ethier/Kemp/Loney/Martin … I mean, their teammates for everything under the sun, it’s a little refreshing to hear Lowe not blame anyone.

In the end though, blame falls squarely on the shoulders of Ned Colletti. There’s a reason why the Dodgers are a singles-hitting team that relies heavily on a high BABIP, and will be in for epic failure when their BABIP falls as it has recently. That reason is Ned Colletti. Ned spent $57 million on Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Nomar, Jason Schmidt, and Rafael Furcal. The only one of that bunch that’s doing anything remotely productive is Andruw, and that’s solely because he’s been banished to Triple-A and not wasting a roster spot. (Okay, neither are Furcal and Schmidt).

Pierre and Nomar (not to mention Mark Sweeney, Pablo Ozuna, and Angel Berroa) continue to soak up valuable playing time, thus further delaying the advancement of players such as Delwyn Young, Chin-Lung Hu, and Ivan DeJesus — players who may actual be useful for the Dodgers.

Rather than use the money (or their minor leaguers) to acquire useful players such as Manny, or Adam Dunn, whom the Reds essentially gave away, the Dodgers waste their “stock” on retreads such as Casey Blake and Greg Maddux.

And then they cobble together a roster that has no punch aside from Kemp, Ethier, and Manny. So is it any surprise that a singles-hitting team can’t do anything other than hit singles?

I believe that the most effective way to score runs is to get on base and hit for power. Take for example yesterday’s game against the Cubs. The Dodgers wasted a good outing from Chad Billingsley (6IP, 4H, 2R, 7K). Billingsley’s only mistake — a two-run blast to Derrek Lee, preceded by a walk to Ryan Theriot. But there you see the fundamentals of scoring runs — Theriot gets on base, Lee makes Billingsley pay with a home run.

Later in the game, Aramis Ramirez added a solo shot off of Scott Proctor, who continues to struggle this year. Two months into the season, and he’s still not looking very sharp. According to the broadcast, more than half the hits he’s given up this year have gone for extra bases. Perhaps he needs more innings, but it’s hard to argue in favor of it given his rather unsightly opponents’ OPS to date.

The Cubs won this game, despite good pitching from the Dodgers’ starter, by getting on base and hitting for power. I don’t think that could be any clearer to the Dodgers. Nonetheless, I should note that the Dodgers did just fine getting on base yesterday, racking up 10 hits and four walks. Fourteen baserunners, and only one run. Did they hit for power? Matt Kemp doubled twice, and Andre Ethier added one of his own. Other than that, just a bunch of little singles here and there. No power.

The Dodgers clearly lack power. Andruw Jones, their power-hitting messiah, has instead been a power-hitting void. Jeff Kent looks every bit of his 40 years. Meanwhile, developing hitters Ethier and Kemp are within reach of their career slugging percentages. Russell Martin and James Loney are a little further back of their career SLG, but still within striking distance.

According to the Dodgers (Joe Torre, anyway), inexperience is the problem. Inexperience, and not batting Mark Sweeeney (.100/.196/.125) fifth behind Jeff Kent (.242/.287/.373) is the problem. Meanwhile, I hear Andy LaRoche is getting PT at 1B. Why? You can never tell with Ned Colletti (improving LaRoche’s trade value/trading Loney/FINALLY DFA-ing Sweeney), but if it means he gets to LA faster (a la Jonathans Meloan and Broxton in the bullpen), then so be it. You’d think given Kent’s apparent to everyone but Bob Brenly and Joe Torre rustiness, that LaRoche would start taking grounders at 2B.

And speaking of Bob Brenly, I won’t even touch the very thinly-veiled disdain for Kemp. The guy must be a dear friend to Luis Gonzalez.