Making official what was first reported earlier this week, the Rays announced their one-year deal with first baseman James Loney.
He’ll get $2 million in guaranteed money coming off a career-worst season in which Loney hit just .249 with six homers and a .630 OPS in 144 games for the Dodgers and Red Sox.
Loney has always lacked the power and overall production usually found in first basemen and in fact since debuting in 2006 his .758 OPS is the second worst among all MLB first basemen ahead of only Casey Kotchman.
Of course, Kotchman was the Rays’ starting first baseman in 2011 and clearly they’re willing to sacrifice power at the position in the name of improving the infield defense. Loney is a legitimately outstanding defender and certainly for $2 million it isn’t much of a commitment, but even a return to his pre-2012 levels at age 29 won’t help the lineup much.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.
A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:
Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)