Felipe Lopez is Lurking
Posted by JD on February 22, 2010
It’s been a long off-season for Felipe Lopez. The Brewers picked him up from Arizona in July but declined to offer him arbitration, making him a free agent. Lopez then sat unwanted through the entire off-season but nothing materialized, which lead him to grow frustrated with and ultimately fire Scott Boras. He was recently linked to the Cardinals and Padres but those theories were quickly debunked. Now he watches, unsigned, as pitchers and catchers report to camps in Florida and Arizona.
I’ll start with this: I doubt very much that the Mets will sign Lopez. They have Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo entrenched as their starting middle-infielders and gave Alex Cora $2 million to be their main sub. That contract is the real stopping point: the Mets have never shown an ability to identify sunk costs so Cora probably isn’t going anywhere. But that’s not going to stop me from banging the drum for Lopez.
I admit he has his faults. His 7.3 career WAR looks great until you realize that 5.1 WAR came in just two of the nine seasons he’s played, and on top of that he apparently has an “attitude problem” (according to a Google search, anyway). But I think he’s an upgrade over Cora (career 1.9 WAR), and the Mets should be actively trying* to at least bring him into camp on a minor league deal to compete for a spot. At the very least, he might light a fire under Castillo and Cora. At best, he might have a great Spring Training and take one of their jobs. I fail to see a downside to signing him, especially if he can be had for a minor league deal (a possibility that grows more likely each day).
I really don’t know why I beat myself up with hypothetical signings or trades: I know the Mets will do anything possible to avoid admitting they’ve made a bad signing, so there’s next to no chance they’ll actually sign Lopez. I guess I just can’t help myself. The idea of incremental improvement is too enticing, however unlikely it may be.
*I have to digress here: I have no idea what the Mets are “actively trying” to do, and neither do you. It’s become very easy to trash Omar Minaya and the front office this off-season but we really have no idea what they’re actually doing to acquire players. The perception that they’ve earned over the past three years is not exactly unfair, but the Jason Bay signing showed that published reports that they were doing nothing were unfounded. Yes, it’s most likely that budget concerns have handicapped the front office. But we should at least allow for the chance that the lack of free agent signings happened for a reason. It’s theoretically possible that Omar and his staff have accurately priced the available free agent talent, however unlikely that theory may be, and while I want them to go out and get Felipe Lopez today, I have to admit that they might know something about him as a player that might justify passing on him. I think it’s a bad move, but I’m willing to admit that other alternatives exist.