The Meaning of James Loney (if there is any)

Jeff Gross

NASHVILLE -- Does this mean we have to take back everything we ever wrote about James Loney?*

* Especially here and here.

I mean, if the Tampa Bay Rays wanted him, doesn't that mean Loney is, by metaphysical definition, better than we thought? And perhaps even good?

Well, it might mean those things. It might also mean that the Rays have a big hole at first base, and were moderately desperate to fill that hole on the cheap, and these days $2 million is cheap. It probably means they're willing to to give Loney a pass for his dreadful 2012, and focus instead on 2008 through '11, when Loney hit decently and occasionally flashed some leather.

Even that James Loney isn't exactly a championship-quality first baseman. But if you don't let him play against left-handed pitchers, he's better than replacement-level, which is really all that matters when you're spending $2 million. Remember, we now live in a world where Assistants to the Regional Hitting Coach are driving Lamborghinis.

James Loney's contract doesn't mean the Rays think he's good; James Loney's contract means the Rays think he's slightly better than whichever minor-league free agents are available this winter. And they're probably right, although let's not forget about Hideki Matsui.

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