Thursday, August 20, 2009

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Felipe Lopez

During his tenure with the Washington Nationals, Felipe Lopez looked lost. He was a massive disappointment with the Nationals and looked like a shell of his former self. While Lopez could still run and steal the occasional base, he demonstrated no ability to get on base, hit for significant power, or hit for a high enough average to justify the playing time he was given.

But luckily for Lopez, the Nationals eventually released Lopez and he got a fresh start with the St. Louis Cardinals. Since that point, Lopez has become one of the most consistent second basemen in the National League. In doing so, Lopez has set himself up nicely for the offseason, when he will be one of the most coveted second basemen on the market because of his age and ability level.

The Case for Lopez

-Defense?

As a shortstop, Lopez was pretty terrible statistically. In addition, Lopez was a pretty bad defensive second baseman entering this season. However, in 2009, Lopez's defense has been stellar at second base in large part because his tremendous range. Lopez's UZR/150 of 5.3 signifies just how solid Lopez has been so far this season.

-Prime?

The great thing about Felipe Lopez for whatever team signs him is that you have to think that his best years are ahead of him. Lopez will only turn 30 years old next year and he seems to have finally put it all together.

-Age

At 29 years old, Lopez is the youngest second baseman available on the market, which in turn makes him a more attractive option for teams.

-Both sides

I'm a big fan of switch hitters, who can hit from both sides of the plate. Too many times in my life, I was forced to watch Todd Hundley hit from the right side, and wow was that an ugly scene. So it's refreshing to see stats like Lopez is putting up this season. From the left side, Lopez is hitting .311 and from the right side, Lopez is hitting .304. Those numbers suggest that Lopez is not a liability from one side of the plate, which increases his value.

The Case against Lopez

-Which Felipe?

The major downside to signing Lopez has to be his inconsistent history. There is always a risk that Lopez could revert back to playing the way he did with the Nationals, which would make him a liability and a frustration. The team that signs Lopez better pray to the baseball Gods that they sign the post Nationals Felipe Lopez.

The talent is there with Lopez. But can he keep it together for a extended period of time after he signs a lucrative contract? I'm very skeptical.

Competition

The biggest thing that seperates Lopez from his competition is his age. While the other 2b free agents out there are quite intreguing (Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, Mark DeRosa), they all will be above the age of 33. Lopez will turn 30 next year and can be viewed as not just a short term option, but a long term option as well.

Prediction
(4 years/$30 million)

Here are some comarable contracts:
Kaz Matsui: 3 years/$16.5 million
Mark Ellis: 2 years/$11 million
Brian Roberts: 4 years/$40 million

Robinson Cano: 4 years/$30 million
Brandon Phillips: 4 years/$27 million

I would be VERY hesistant to give Lopez a multi year contract, but I have a feeling that Lopez will get the big money on the open market. His talent coupled with his 2009 performance has put him into a great position for this offseason.

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6 comments:

lar said...

I don't know what to believe about Lopez either but, watching him everyday since he's arrived in Milwaukee, I do like what I see. If that's the guy you sign, he's worth at least that 4 yr/$30mil contract you predict. But the inconsistencies are definitely worrisome.

It seems like everyone was feeling this same way a few years ago about Brian Roberts, though. He had the big season at age 27, a bad season at 28, and he hasn't been bad since. Maybe that's how you have to view Lopez, because he is certainly playing well.

Someone's gonna bite and sign him to a nice contract, and they're probably going to be happy with it in the end. I could certainly understand teams being afraid of that, though.

Jorge Says No! said...

If lopez had shown more consistency throughout his career, he def would be in line for a bigger contract

KL Snow said...

It's probably nitpicking a bit, but Lopez was actually released by the Nats, not traded.

Jorge Says No! said...

Good catch, KL. Can't believe I missed that one.

Kevan said...

I've only seen him regularly since late July, but with the Brewers Lopez has had a tendency to zone out or slack off. He's dropped a fly ball or two and made some poor decisions on the basepaths to the point that Macha publicly got on his case. However the very next game he snapped right back into it, hustling for an infield hit that sparked an 11 run game. I wonder if his mind was the reason he underachieved in DC. But he's clearly taken care of his problems at the plate, and has turned into a decent second baseman who could still improve. Thoughts Josh?

Jorge Says No! said...

The whole idea that he's this good offensive second baseman, who is in his prime and can still improve is the reason why I think he can get the big money from some team.

I would be very, very hesitant to give him a big deal just because I remember how badly he played with the Nationals.