Shoving Aside James Loney

February 18th, 2016
James Loney won't be laughing about the acquisition of first baseman Logan Morrison

James Loney won’t be laughing about the acquisition of first baseman Logan Morrison

Back in 2013, when James Loney was a defensive savant, it would have been unimaginable to picture anyone else in a Rays uniform at first base for the foreseeable future.

That was the year of Tampa Bay’s fearsome foursome in the infield, when Loney, Ben Zobrist (second base), Evan Longoria (third) and Yunel Escobar (shortstop) were all named Gold Glove finalists.

Fast-forward to the present day, and the welcome mat for Loney has become a whole lot smaller. Logan Morrison’s arrival from the Mariners in November — along with Steve Pearce’s addition in January — is a sign that Loney’s future with Tampa Bay is murky at best, with many assuming the Rays’ scoopmaster will be shipped off this year.

Not only was Morrison, 28, a key chip in the Nathan Karns trade, he is three years younger than Loney. Although he began his career as a left fielder with the Marlins in 2010, Morrison made 115 starts at first base with the Mariners last season, topping his previous high of 78 with Miami in 2013. He also figures to be a favorite for the designated-hitter role.

The Rays see Morrison as someone on the rise, as evidenced by his 54 RBI last season. (Loney, meanwhile, had just 32 — a decrease of 37 from 2014.) Morrison also has 28 combined home runs throughout the past two seasons, compared to Loney’s 13.

Even if Loney sticks around, Joe thinks Morrison’s presence will provide the Rays with more offensive upside than what Loney can offer. Time moves on for everyone, even for those who were once golden.


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