Red Sox Should Not Pursue James Loney in Trade With Dodgers

According to super agent Scott Boras, there are apparently several teams interested in his client, Red Sox free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.

With the possibility of Beltre returning to Boston growing thinner as Boras' rhetoric grows stronger, the likelihood that the Sox decide to move Kevin Youkilis to the hot corner continues to increase. And if that happens, there will be a glaring hole at first base.

Enter James Loney. Major league sources say the Dodgers are willing to trade the 26-year-old first baseman, according to Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal.

Loney had amazing potential when he came to Los Angeles in 2006. He had a .901 OPS in 48 games that year, then followed it up with a great 2007 in which he posted a .919 OPS in 96 games. To top it all off, he was described as a defensive wizard.

In 2008, however, Loney's numbers took a dive and have been declining steadily ever since. His OPS from 2008 to 2010 has been .772, .756 and .724, respectively. Furthermore, it seems as if his plate discipline has diminished, as well. In 2009, Loney walked 70 times and struck out just 68 times in 158 games — very respectable totals. Last year, however, Loney had just 52 walks compared to his 95 punch-outs.

And that defensive prowess he was once noted for? Well, he's not bad, but he's not Don Mattingly, either. Loney's 2.786 zone rating ranked fifth among NL first basemen last year and his 9.17 range factor was ninth (out of 14 who qualified).

At 26, there's still plenty of time for Loney to adjust and find the stroke that once gave him so much promise. But a move to the American League, specifically the AL East, which features the toughest pitching in baseball (including some of the game's best left-handers), certainly won't help his progress.

And while the Red Sox likely wouldn't have to give up much to snag Loney from the Dodgers, he'd hardly be a good replacement for Beltre.

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