James Loney swinging

James Loney “is all but certain to” remain with the Dodgers


Earlier this week Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote that “James Loney is the position player the Dodgers are most willing to trade,” yet today Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times wrote that “Loney, despite rumors the team is looking to trade him, is all but certain to return at first base.”

Two good reporters with what are no doubt very connected sources … and two very different reports about the same player.

I have no idea which report is right–although technically they could both be accurate–but I do know that the Dodgers should be shopping Loney. He earned $3.1 million this season and is line for a guaranteed raise via arbitration despite hitting just .267 with a .329 on-base percentage, .395 slugging percentage, and 10 homers in 161 games.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Dodgers needing to improve their offense by bringing in some big bats and that’s certainly true, but the fact that their first baseman hasn’t cracked an .800 OPS in three seasons doesn’t help either. Loney is a solid enough all-around player, but his offensive production is below average at first base and he’s about to get expensive. He’s exactly the type of player the Dodgers should be fielding calls on.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.