The James Loney Era Is Over
Due to Lucas Duda‘s broken back and Sandy Alderson believing Eric Campbell was the best possible option for the 25th man on the Opening Day roster, the Mets were forced to go out and acquire James Loney for $1 from the San Diego Padres.
Look, there are plenty of jokes you can make about the Mets getting ripped off in the deal. You can also point out to how Loney was a terrible hitter who not only couldn’t hit for power, but he also couldn’t draw a walk. In the field, you could crack jokes about how dead people are able to stretch more than Loney was able to at first base.
Behind these jokes, the simple fact was Loney was better than what the Mets had at the time. Loney was the end result of poor planning by this Mets organization. Lost in all of that was Loney was actually good for a stretch of time. From June to July, Loney was a .288/.343/.451 hitter. While it wasn’t the production you may look for out of first base, he was still a solid major league hitter. And he was a solid major league hitter at a time when Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera were mired in deep slumps. Without Loney’s bat, it is quite possible the Mets would have been further under .500 than they would have been.
There were even some clutch hits along the way like his 100th career home run that helped the Mets beat the Miami Marlins:
The main issue with Loney was he was playing above his head, and he fooled everyone into thinking he was going to keep up this level of production. He certainly convinced a Mets front office who was once again either unwilling or ill-prepared to handle the first base situation at the trade deadline.
In the end, Loney showed the Mets his best ability was his availability. That speaks volume when you consider the entire Mets Opening Day infield spent at least one stint on the disabled list. Heck, even the primary backup, Wilmer Flores, had a season ending injury that required offseason surgery.
Overall, it was not his fault he was not the hitter the Mets needed him to be. Ultimately, Loney was just Loney. It was good enough to help the Mets capture the top Wild Card spot, but ultimately, it was not enough for the Mets to beat Madison Bumgarner in the Wild Card game.
Loney has now signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers thereby putting an end to the possibility of his returning to the Mets. It’s likely he won’t have a Kelly Johnson type return either. The chapter in Mets history is closed, and generally speaking, the Mets were better off for him being a part of it. And no, it’s not a stretch to say that.