Los Angeles Angels: Adrian Gonzalez

Dodgers vs. Angels: Who has the edge?

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
7:40
PM PT
Who knows, maybe this is the season it finally happens. The Dodgers, having spared no expense, will field a balanced, dangerous team and feel like they are positioned for a World Series run. The Angels, who jacked up their already formidable power with the surprise acquisition of Josh Hamilton, have similar aims.

If there really is to be a Freeway Series in 2013, a lot of things have to go right for both teams. But the team that made -- and makes -- the best personnel decisions likely will go further into October.

Let's break down the key areas of both rosters to try to decipher which team is better constructed to play longer into 2013.

Starting rotation

This is the part of the discussion in which Dodgers fans get to gloat and Angels fans have to just sit there and marinate. You could argue -- in fact, you don't really even have to -- that the Dodgers have better pitchers in all five spots.

We know this because one of the Angels starters, Joe Blanton, couldn't have cracked the Dodgers' seven deep. We also know this because one of the Dodgers' starters, Zack Greinke, almost helped the Angels make the playoffs.

Jered Weaver is perfectly ace-like. About 25 teams would put him at the top of their rotation. He has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three years running and even got a couple of MVP votes last year -- always a cool accomplishment for a pitcher. He won 20 games, had a sub-3.00 ERA for the second season in a row and usually gives you more than 200 innings. And we won't even hold the .250 and .241 BABIPs from the past two seasons against him. Weaver is a fly ball pitcher and he relies on mishits to pitch deep into games. He gets strikeouts when he needs them, which is quite often, actually.

The only reason he doesn't get the edge is that Clayton Kershaw might be the best pitcher in baseball. We don't need SABR to tell us that. It's not that scientific. For the past two seasons he led baseball in ERA and was in the top three in WAR for pitchers. If he's not the most dominant pitcher in baseball, he's in the team photo and it's a small team (probably Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander).

So, the Dodgers get an edge in the No. 1 department, though it's a fairly slight edge because of Weaver's competitiveness and consistency. "Slight" isn't the right word for the rest of the Dodgers' edge in starting pitching.

Greinke has never come close to touching his 2009 Cy Young season, but neither has just about any other active pitcher. Greinke flirted with a sub-2.00 ERA, led the league in ERA+ and WHIP. Nobody could square him up. He gave up 0.4 home runs per nine innings. He was mediocre the following season, probably in part because of a personal crisis, but has gone 31-11 with a 3.63 ERA the past two years. Is he worth $147 million? Is any pitcher? He's as good a No. 2 starter as there is out there.

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Loney understands why Dodgers traded him

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
7:10
PM PT
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- James Loney was surprised, but not shocked to hear last weekend that he and four Los Angeles Dodgers prospects had been traded to the Boston Red Sox for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Nick Punto.

Suprised the Dodgers and Red Sox could pull off such a huge, complicated team in August, after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Surprised he wasn't going to have a chance to finish this year strong, as he had the previous one.

Surprised that the only major league franchise he'd ever played for had decided to part ways after seven years.

But no, he was not shocked the Dodgers would jump at a chance to make Gonzalez, a four-time All Star, their first baseman for the next six years.

"It's just one of those things that happens sometimes. You get opportunities to get different guys and you've got to make a decision," Loney told ESPNLosAngeles.com before the Red Sox game against the Angels Thursday.

Loney, 28, hit just .254 with four home runs and 33 RBIs this season, far off the pace of his best seasons as a Dodgers in 2008 and 2009 when he hit .289 and .281 respectively and drove in 90 RBIs.

A torrid second half last season convinced the Dodgers to tender him a contract again this season, but their patience quickly waned as his production lagged and manager Don Mattingly started using him in a platoon at first base with Juan Rivera, among others.

"Obviously over the years I've pretty much played full time," said Loney, who had played in 752 games since the start of his first full season in the majors in 2008, tied for sixth in the NL.

"I never really had a down year. I think the lowest average I ever really had in the big leagues was .267 or something. So it's one of those situations where you wanted to finish strong. It's not like I couldn't still have a good year in that league."

Asked if he felt the Dodgers gave up on him, Loney was more blunt, "They were giving me opportunities. They just wanted production and stuff like that. It was more of 'Hey, we've got other guys we want to try and mix and match.' That's what they were trying to do, they were just mixing and matching. I understand what it is. But obviously I want to play."

Including Thursday, Loney has started four of his first five games with the Red Sox. He is 4-for 13 with three RBI in those first four games.

"I've got some RBIs, I've got some hits. I'm playing so to get those things you've got to play," Loney said. "Part of it [the trade for the Red Sox] is to see what I can do this year and then we'll go from there."

As for his time with the Dodgers, Loney says he has no regrets.

"I had a great time there," he said. "I had some great years there. Some great memories."

Here's a look at tonight's lineups:

RED SOX

1. Scott Podsednik LF
2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
3. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
4. James Loney 1B
5. Cody Ross RF
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia DH
7.Ryan Lavarnway C
8. Mike Aviles SS
9. Pedro Ciriaco 3B
Jon Lester (8-10, 4.98 ERA)

ANGELS

1. Mike Trout CF
2. Torii Hunter RF
3. Albert Pujols DH
4. Mark Trumbo 1B
5. Howie Kendrick 2B
6. Erick Aybar SS
7. Maicer Izturis 3B
8. Vernon Wells LF
9. Chris Iannetta C
Zack Greinke (2-2, 5.22 ERA)

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jered Weaver
WINS ERA SO IP
18 3.59 169 213
OTHER LEADERS
BAH. Kendrick .293
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
ERAG. Richards 2.61
SOJ. Weaver 169