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

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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.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?