James Loney wants to play for the Dodgers right now. And who could blame him? He’s good enough, he’s mature enough, and gosh darn it, people like him.
Loney won the Triple A Pacific Coast League batting title last year with a .380 average, and followed it up by hitting .414 during Spring Training. And still the Dodgers didn’t put him on their squad. What’s a guy got to do to get some love?
Now frustrated with his inability to make the team, Loney has asked to be traded. This whole thing is just like what happened with Ryan Howard, who tore up the minor leagues for a couple of years before the Phillies finally gave him a chance to play everyday. He was pissed with the Phils for continually failing to put him on the major league squad and asked to be traded.
Now, looking back, it’s hard to argue with the Phillies’ decision to leave Howard in the minors as long as they did. After all, he’s been great since he’s been in the league (one Rookie of the Year and one MVP trophy in two seasons) and maybe all that minor league seasoning is to thank.
On the other hand, it probably still grates on Howard that he was left in the minors for so long. He’s now in his third year in the league and most people think of him as a young kid, but he’s only one year younger than teammate Jimmy Rollins, who has been in the majors for eight seasons and he’s older than rival Albert Pujols, who is in his seventh season. And he won’t be eligible for a big money free agent contract until most of his best years are behind him.
Of course, the difference between Loney and Howard is that Howard’s path to the bigs was blocked by Jim Thome, while Loney had a clear path to make the Dodgers until the team inexplicably decided to resign Mr. Mia Hamm to be their starting 1B.
If I were Loney, I would be pissed. But I wouldn’t expect a trade. The Dodgers might not know exactly what they’ve got in Loney, but they are probably smart enough not to part with him anytime soon.