Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Case For Dealing Lopez

Readers of The Log know we are not huge fans of Jose Lopez. His minor and major league track records suggest he will never blossom into a productive major league 2b. There seems to be a general misunderstanding among Mariner fans that Lopez is having a good year. He is not. But he may be having a good enough year to deal him for a decent AAA prospect. If that's the case, the Mariners should consider themselves lucky and make a deal today.

Let's take a peek at Lopez's stats so far: .299/4/29/27/2, with a .309 OBP and .736 OPS. That puts him on pace for: .299/11/80 w/ 74 runs and 5 SB. I'll make the call right now that he will NOT hit .300. He won't even hit .290. His batting average the past 3 years in the 2nd half is .250 with a pitiful OPS of .610. A player with very limited power and no speed who doesn't walk needs to hit .330 to be productive. So unless he turns into Placido Polanco overnight, the Mariners should deal Lopez now before the annual 2nd half swoon starts.

Maybe the rest of the league hasn't noticed what has become a painful reality for Mariner fans: For HR Lopez puts on the board he loses a game with his glove. Let's ignore for a minute all the balls an average fielding 2b would typically get to that Lopez doesn't make a play for, and focus on his inability to simply catch thrown balls or field grounders that share both meaning and velocity. Whether it's a perfectly thrown ball from Beltre to start a double play, or like last night, a grounder with the bases loaded that any major league 2b would have fielded to save 2 runs, he seems incapable of executing plays this team needs to stay in ballgames.

Let's deal Lopez before the rest of the league catches on that he has limited power, no speed and can't field. For a team that needs a little bit of everything, there has to be someone out there willing to part with a AAA+ player that can be part of the 2009 strategy and beyond.

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