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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
(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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