When the Boston Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers, James Loney was the only major leaguer sent in return. The 28-year-old first baseman has struggled mightily this season, but will have a chance to showcase his talent on a big stage before testing the free agent market in the offseason.
Though the expectations and pressures of winning in Boston are gone for 2012, Loney will be under his own pressure for the final month of the season. Moving to the east coast and one of the biggest media cities in baseball is hard enough, but playing for what could be a big contract this offseason will mean Loney must produce.
After seven years in Los Angeles, Loney is likely sick of Dodger Stadium. He is a career .273 hitter with a .713 OPS there and fares much better on the road, where his lifetime numbers are .295 and .813, respectively.
A move to Fenway and the change of scenery should give Loney an opportunity to increase his dreadful power numbers. The once potential star hit 15 home runs in 96 games back in 2007, but hasn't hit more than 13 in a season since. He's only tallied four home runs this year—all away from Dodger Stadium.
Loney's lack of hitting ability at a power position had been troublesome for the Dodgers, but it was his defense that kept him around as a starting major league player. He's one of the best in the game, but isn't noticed as much as Mark Teixeira or Adrian Gonzalez because of his struggles at the plate.
Loney definitely isn't a step up from Gonzalez, but there isn't a huge decline there as far as defense is concerned.
With his pending free agency, James Loney has five weeks to prove that he is still worthy of being a starter in the major leagues. The change of scenery and the chance to score a big payday should motivate him to give it all he's got for the rest of the year.
He may end up being more than just a fill-in for the rest of the season. Loney is still a young player, and if he can prove that there's some pop left in his bat, the Red Sox may think about keeping him beyond 2012.