Jose Lopez Explained

Dave · August 26, 2004 at 5:40 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

One of the things that I’ve gotten quite a bit of email about over the past year is my stance on Jose Lopez. Despite consistently ranking in the top five in the Future Forty (updated version coming this weekend, which will likely be the last one that Lopez is eligible for), I’ve been a fairly outspoken opponent of the hype he has generated and somewhat negative in tone with a majority of my comments about him. By continuing to rank him as one of the best prospects the Mariners have but downplaying his abilities, it seems that a good amount of confusion has been created around my opinion of his talents. So, this post should hopefully serve as an answer to most of the questions that I get about Lopez.

Lopez’s minor league numbers through 2003
Lopez’s numbers in Tacoma
Lopez in Seattle
Lopez’s PECOTA profile at BP (subscribers only)
Article I wrote on Lopez for BP last summer (also subscriber only. So subscribe already!)

That should be enough background information. A brief summary, for those who hate following links and haven’t followed Lopez’s trek through the minors:

Debuted in Everett in 2001 as a 17-year-old and spent the year as the youngest player in the league. Showed minimal skills with the bat, earned solid reviews with the glove, and impressed by holding his own against advanced competition at a very young age.

Aggressively moved to San Bernadino in 2002, skipping low-A. Was youngest player in league again, but had a breakthrough season by whacking .324 and showing gap power. Gained non-muscle weight as the season went on and defense drew mixed reviews.

Went to Double-A San Antonio for 2003 and was a mixed bag. Power continued to develop, and at 19 was very young for Texas League, but his average dropped 70 points and his defense continued to be questionable at best. Didn’t show a good work ethic and talk began of moving him off of shortstop in the future.

Started 2004 in Triple-A Tacoma and had a rebound season with the bat. Gained even more power and shows above average pop for even a non-premium defensive position. Weight fluctuates, plays several positions, and convinces most scouts that he can’t play shortstop in the major leagues for the long term. Promoted to Seattle for no reason in particular, is predictably overmatched.

Lopez hasn’t followed anything of a normal development path. The scouting report on him has fluctuated between “defensive wiz who might hit” to “terrific bat who can’t field”. His top PECOTA comparison is Adrian Beltre, showing obvious potential. Jorge Cantu and Luis Rivas follow in the next two spots, showing obvious risk. Miguel Cabrera follows them. So, the four most comparable players by minor league profile to Lopez are a couple of all-stars who could be hall of famers sandwiched around a busted prospect who is trying to resurrect his career and one of the worst players in Major League Baseball. Lopez defines a high risk, high reward prospect.

Lopez has two big things going for him; bat speed and power. He has quick wrists that get the bathead through the zone with ease and can generate authority to all fields. He covers the plate well and can make contact with any pitch in any location, which is both a blessing and a curse. Because he’s had success with his swing-at-anything method, he’s a virtual lock to maintain his hack-a-matic ways through his major league career, requiring him to hit for a high average in order to maintain his status as a quality offensive player. As long as he hits .295 or .324, as he has in two of the past three seasons, and not .258 like he did in San Antonio, he’ll be a productive player. However, singles are the most luck-dependant offensive weapon, and Lopez is going to need to acquire a lot of them over his career. A willingness to draw a free pass every once in a while would help him, but isn’t likely either.

He’s never met a fastball he didn’t think he could hit out of the park and it’s fairly easy to get him to chase hard stuff up in the zone. Think Bret Boone when he sees dead-red. Lopez hits breaking balls much better than most young players, and you won’t see many ugly Bucky-like swing throughs on a slow curve. The book on him is to pitch him out of the strike zone, mostly up and away, and he’ll get himself out. If you don’t get it far enough away, though, he has legitimate power to right-center and can hurt you.

Offensively, Lopez is going to live and die with his batting average. The power is there now and he’s showing no signs of slowing down, so 25-30 HR’s and a .200 Isolated Slugging (SLG-BA) in his prime is realistic. If he hits .300, he’ll put up OPS’ north of .850 and be a force offensively in the mold of Beltre and Cabrera, though probably to a slightly lesser extent. If he hits .250, he’s Tony Batista, a replacement level player who makes so many outs that it cancels out his power. Anyone who says they “know” whether Lopez is going to become the .300 hitting star or the .250 hitting replacement level player is lying to you. The offensive potential for both is very real, and a solid case can be made for either side.

However, most people agree on Lopez’s offensive potential. It’s his defense that draws a divide. He clearly has the raw tools to handle shortstop, including a well above average arm, good enough hands, decent footwork, and a young lifetime of experience at the position. He’s fundamentally sound enough to make a good majority of the plays he gets to. But the big question is his range, and it is also the hardest to quantify. At 17, when he was about 30 pounds lighter than he is now, he moved well and covered a good amount of ground. However, he’s steadily put on weight and lost speed and his range is now simply average for the position. A popular sentiment that I’ve heard this year from people who have seen him play is that he’s a capable shortstop now, and they conclude that I’m clearly off base in my assessment of his skills.

But here’s the deal; 20-year-olds who are already average defensively at a premium position almost always need to move to another position by their mid-twenties. My point has never been that Lopez is a poor defensive player right now; it is that he doesn’t have the margin for error to allow for the inevitable decline in his skills that major league shortstops had at age 20. For this year, Lopez will cover enough ground to be adequate, though his inexperience will probably lead to enough errors to cancel out any defensive value he may add. He might be passable next year as well, depending on how hard he works in the offseason and his individual body development. But the long history of major league development is against Lopez being able to retain the necessary quickness to play shortstop past 2006. He’s going to get slower, and that loss of range is going to necessitate a move to another position. Comparisons to other poor major league defensive shortstops aren’t relevant in this case, where people claim the runs he’d create with his bat would cancel out the defensive shortcomings. Lopez is likely to lose enough range that he’d be one of the worst shortstops in baseball. Defensively, it is fair to expect him to grow into something like a Marcus Giles body-type, and there’s a reason the Braves would only consider using Giles at shortstop in cases of utter necessity.

Third base and second base are the two possibilities for Lopez, and while third is mentioned more often due to his arm strength, I believe he’ll settle in as a second baseman. The shift from middle infield to corner infield is far more difficult than most people understand, and Lopez’s reactions will suit him better up the middle than they will at the hot corner. He won’t be a great defensive player no matter where they put him, but his defensive value would be about the same at second or third. When that is the case, it is best to keep the player at the more scarce position, in this case that being second base.

Realistically, Lopez should settle in as Boone’s replacement in the 2006 season when he’s 22-years-old. If his bat continues to develop, he could have a very nice career as an offensive force at second and provide solid production at minimum wage work. However, the organization views him so highly that it is very possible he spends 2005 as the Mariners starting shortstop, taking his lumps at the major league level and burning a year of service time in the process. The odds of Lopez being a productive major league player next year are slim, and the franchise would be best served letting Lopez make a lot of the necessary improvements in Tacoma, where his arbitration clock can stand still. Keeping Lopez on the roster for 2005 will ensure that he’s a free agent after the 2010 season, granting him an open-market salary going into his age 27 season. When given a choice between a players’ age 21 or age 27 season, you should almost always take the age 27 season, with rare exceptions. Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, and even Adrian Beltre forced their way to the major leagues by dominating the upper levels of the minor leagues as a teenager. Lopez has not dominated in that same way, and his struggles since the promotion have hopefully opened the Mariners’ eyes that he is not a major league caliber player at the moment.

Send Jose Lopez back to Tacoma next spring. If the team is rebuilt into a contender and his services are deemend helpful in a pennant race, consider bringing him back up. But do not plan on him as a vital piece to the 2005 team, as you’ll simply be trading a potentially valuable season in 2011 for the right to watch him struggle first-hand.

Overall, my take on Lopez could be summed up like this; he’s a high risk/reward prospect with the potential to be an all-star or an out-machine, and only time will tell which extreme he will lean towards. The majority of his major league career will be spent at second or third base, but I would suggest second base to maximize value. He isn’t ready for the major leagues and should be assigned to Triple-A for the 2005 season. He has obvious strengths which make him attractive but enough obvious weaknesses to keep him out of the uberprospect status that the organization has projected upon him. He might be a franchise player, but the risk is simply too high to make that a reasonable expectation at this point in time. He’s not the next Alex Rodriguez. Whether he’s Adrian Beltre or Tony Batista is up to him and how hard he wants to work. He’s going to have to work harder than he has in the past in order to live up to the promise that people expect from him. That’s his choice, though, and we can only hope he dedicates himself to the game.


32 Responses to “Jose Lopez Explained”

  1. U.S.S. Mariner » Jose Lopez and 2005 on September 17th, 2004 7:37 pm
    […] opez and 2005
    Filed under: Mariners — Dave @ 12:37 pm .

    I made a pretty long post about Jose Lopez about a month ago, so I’m going to try and stay away from rehashing the argume […]

  2. Paul Covert on August 26th, 2004 6:50 pm

    Thanks for the detailed explanation, Dave. In the past you’ve mentioned that some scouts view Lopez a lot more positively than you do; is that because they think he’ll remain a quality major league defensive SS? Or is it just that they’re focusing more on the reward and less on the risk than you are?

  3. The REAL Trent on August 26th, 2004 7:16 pm

    The thing to really keep in mind here is that he is 20 years-old. If the Mariners were not as bad as they are now, or if the M’s had a deeper Minor League talent pool to grab from, Lopez would still be developing his skills at AAA or perhaps even AA. I understand that since he is here now it is only natural to judge his talents. However, most good or great prospects do not have their breakout year til they are 23 or 24, not 20. I guess I am just suggesting that everyone should really wait a couple of years before they label him the either the next Beltre or the next Batista. As far as I am concerned he is a “prospect” for a little while longer.

  4. Matt on August 26th, 2004 7:29 pm

    Good read, Dave. And here I thought I was the only one not impressed with Lopez. I keep waiting to see what all the fuss is about. And waiting….

  5. West Coast Willie on August 26th, 2004 7:56 pm

    I hope enough comments like mine are sent: as a follow up to your suggestion of having Lopez in Tacoma in 2005, could you possibly give us the name of a player or two who you think the M’s could put at shortstop next season? The list of who they won’t have at short is pretty long. I know you don’t care for the value Omar would bring, but he sure would have been better to watch with the season he’s had.

    Very good writing. Thanks.


  6. Digger on August 26th, 2004 7:57 pm

    Thanks Dave. My feelings from watching his lackadaisical play are in line with your erudite analysis. So who do you think the Ms should play at SS next year?

  7. G-Man on August 26th, 2004 8:00 pm

    Yes, Dave, nice piece.

    I think the strategy of keeping a player in the minors to maximize the value of his pre-arb years is a great tool that isn’t used enough. There is risk in postponing one season of MLB service for six years, but you get him for under 500K that season instead of, say, something like 3-6 million million. Anyway, it’s moot; the M’s will never look that far ahead. I’ll bet that come spring training, the SS job is his to lose.

  8. ZTigerX on August 26th, 2004 8:18 pm

    I know it’s irrelevant to the subject of your article (nice work on it, informative and objective), but why do you consider Jorge Cantu a busted prospect trying to revive his career? He had spent 5 years in the minors prior to this year, and wasn’t very successful in the middle years of that, but he’s still only 22. It’s not like he was brought up previously and flopped or was highly touted and failed to pan out as expected. Seemed to me a rather strange way of judging him.

  9. Dave on August 26th, 2004 8:25 pm


    The reviews on Lopez’s defense from those who watched him this year aren’t as split as they were in past years. It’s about 80/20 in favor of moving him. One of the scouts (who I really respect and knows the game exceedingly well) who likes him at short is all about offense, so I take a lot of what he says with that understanding. He’d probably play Barry Bonds at short if he was managing the Giants.

    Now, there’s quite a bit of a difference between what other teams scouts will tell me and what the Mariners organization will tell me. They’ll claim he’s a good defensive shortstop to his dying day. And that is what will get printed in the local papers. Realistically, though, among people who don’t have a vested interest in where he plays, it’s pretty overwhelming that he should move off short.

    I still think the M’s need to pursue a long term answer at shortstop, as I’m not enamored with any of the current SS prospects in the system. I’d say the best bet to man the position long term is Asdrubal Cabrera, but he’s at least three years away, probably four. So I’d actively be pursuing options to find someone who could play the position for several years.

    If the Braves do pony up for J.D. Drew, I’d inquire about Rafael Furcal. Time Warner is still relatively payroll concious, and the club is going to have a hard time keeping Drew, replacing Russ Ortiz (who will definitely leave at years end), and paying Furcal and Giles in arbitration. It would take a good young player or two to pry him away, but he’s the type of guy who could be the answer for the next 4-5 years.

  10. Joe Bob on August 26th, 2004 8:51 pm

    There is one reason why jose lopez will be the starting shortstop next year, Money. Despite all of the talk about the mariners having a boatload of cash to spend in the offseason, the reality is that they will only be able to sign two, maybe three impact free agents. The reality of the Mariners Payroll situation is as follows:

    54.73 Million Committed in Major League Salaries to fill 11 roster spots:

    2b: boone
    C: olivo
    lf: ibanez
    cf: winn
    rf: ichiro
    sp: moyer
    sp: piniero
    sp: franklin
    rp: guardado
    rp: hasegawa
    bench: spiezio

    That leaves the following 14 roster spots that need to be filled:

    1b, 3b, ss, dh, 2xsp, 4xrp, 4xbench

    The mariners say they will have a 90 million dollar payroll next year, subtract 5 million for bonuses, benefits, and a contingency fund and that leaves 90 million. Take away the 54.73 million that we have already committed in salary and that leaves 35.27 million dollars to spend on 14 roster spots. So let’s start spending some money, I have heard people suggest that we go after adrian beltre, He’ll probably cost at least 12 million per year (let’s be optimistic) so that leaves us with 23.27 million. I’ve heard discussion about going after an impact bat to play 1b or the outfield. Let’s say were able to sign someone like delgado or glaus for something like 10 million, that leaves us with 13.27 million. With guardado and soriano out for most if not all of next year we’re also going to need to go after an impact relief pitcher, say we spend 5 million on that, plus a couple of million to sign a solid bat for the bench, another couple of million for a journeyman starter to fill out the rotation, and all of the sudden your down to 4.27 million. That’s 4.27 million dollars to fill 9 positions, you still need:

    sp, rpx3, ss, dh, benchx3

    So, with 4.27 million to spend and 9 spots to fill where do you look? Of course you look to rookies, who only cost 300k apiece, which means that we can probably expect jose lopez to start the 2005 season at ss.

  11. Joe Bob on August 26th, 2004 8:53 pm

    oops, some corrections, original payroll is 95 million, subtract 5 to get 90 million. Second, guardado will not be filling a roster spot for most of the season, so make that 15 spots the mariners need to fill.

  12. David J Corcoran on August 26th, 2004 9:49 pm

    Regarding Lopez, I need some help. I have been in this multiple day long arguement with some idiot who thinks that Lopez is a bust just because he isn’t hitting .300 right now.
    I have given him every stat I can think of, proving him otherwise, compared him to other shortstops in their debut year (Jeter, A-Rod, Garciaparra, Tejada, Crosby, etc), but he won’t budge. By the way, the only stat he has given me is his CURRENT major league average. Does anybody have any ideas, or should Ijust let this guy go and have bad ideas in his head?

  13. Joe Bob on August 26th, 2004 10:54 pm

    Have you mentioned that he’s supremely young to be in the major leagues?

  14. The REAL Trent on August 26th, 2004 11:10 pm

    That is what I was trying to say earlier. He is only 20!! Give him a few years. He shouldn’t even be in Seattle right now.

  15. Cindy on August 27th, 2004 4:06 am

    You guys talk like it’s no big deal that Jose Lopez slugged .500 in Cheney Stadium at 20 years of age. Jeremy Reed, on the other hand, there’s a prospect! 😉
    I watched the Future Davenport Translations at BP all year and there were 3 prospects head and shoulders above the rest of the minor leagues: David Wright, B.J. Upton, and Jose Lopez. Lopez’ FDT’s were like .300/.380/.560.
    The article here does mention Lopez’ awesome plate coverage and his ability to time offspeed pitches so that he doesn’t swing through when a pitcher pulls the string. Summed up by Lopez’ PCL coaches with “there’s nothing more for him to learn at AAA.”
    You guys are WAY underselling where this kid is, at 20 years of age. Come on.

  16. Troy Sowden on August 27th, 2004 7:52 am

    Dave, I’ll give you the SS argument, as your sources are much better than mine (oh wait, I don’t have any). Still, I’m with Cindy – you and apparently others here are way underestimating this kid’s bat. He showed at Tacoma as a 20 YO that he can flat out hit. I don’t see any reason to doubt that. I like the Beltre comparison, and think he’s going to be a lot closer to that than Tony Batista. I definitely like Lopez’ future alot more than Reed, who had one fluky year with batting average and became everybody’s favorite prospect.

    Also, while I agree with your reasoning to want to see Jose in AAA next year, it’s not going to happen. There’s no way we sign a SS AND a 3B, and if Lopez doesn’t start at one of those two spots that means Spiezio or Leone will be at third. It’s just not going to happen. I think by midway next year he’ll be a serviceable ML talent, and by 06 he should be on his way to being very, very good.

    In over 360 at-bats between AA and AAA this year, he hasn’t even struck out 50 times. I know strikeouts are overrated for hitters, but if we agree that when he hits the ball he does good things with it, doesn’t it bode well that he doesn’t miss the ball that often? I know the low walks are a concern, but it’s not like we’re talking about a slap hitter who grounds out weakly every at-bat and might as well strike out. Lopez has a clue what he’s doing up there, and as he adjusts to big league pitching, he’s going to do some great things. In other words, he’s no Wladimir Balentien (power but whiffs all the time), or David Eckstean (never whiffs but doesn’t do anything when he hits it).

    This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate your analysis, because I always do. I just think you are going to be very pleasantly surprised.

  17. Eric on August 27th, 2004 9:33 am


    I understand where you are coming from on the high/low projections for Lopez. But based on what he has done at AAA as a 20 year old wouldn’t you say that it is more like 60-40 or even 70-30 that he is Beltre vs Batista?

  18. The Ancient Mariner on August 27th, 2004 11:08 am

    Appreciate the explanation. I watched Lopez quite a bit at Everett, was impressed with his glove and saw the potential with the bat, but haven’t had the chance since, so some of your past comments have made no sense to me. Now I’m tracking with you. One question: it sounds like the deterioration in his fielding is rooted in the same source as the hole in his plate discipline–namely, his poor work ethic. If he were to really dedicate himself to the game and get himself in better shape (and yes, I realize that’s a big “if”), would he be able to regain the range he’s lost and stay at short? Or is that loss of range intrinsic to his body type?

  19. Troy Sowden on August 27th, 2004 11:20 am

    Why is his poor plate discipline attributable to a poor work ethic? I can see the declining range having a direct correlation, but why the plate discipline?

  20. PositivePaul on August 27th, 2004 11:45 am

    Good read! It’s nice to hear someone much more informed and versed than I am having the same feelings about Lopez. I just don’t see him as a SS period, but admittedly, I’m not much of an expert in judging talent, and I base a lot of my judgements on gut feeling moreso than trained scouting ability. For his arbitration schedule’s sake, I’d MUCH rather see Lopez develop one more season at least in Tacoma playing either 2B or 3B (more desirably 2B since we need to groom a Boonie replacement defensively). I saw him a few times in Tacoma before he was called up to Seattle, and I really wasn’t all that impressed, either offensively or defensively. Whoever said that he had nothing more to prove in AAA (wasn’t it Rohn) probably has more direct info than I do, but I just don’t quite agree.

    For several reasons (most of them having to deal with cash and proximity), I’ve spent a lot more time seeing Tacoma games than Seattle games in person. I don’t claim to be a scout, and base my opinion on a player solely on my gut reaction to watching them play. Guys that didn’t impress me in Tacoma: Lopez, Strong, Baek, Thornton, Ugueto, and Santiago. Guys who have impressed me in Tacoma: Reed, Zapp (he’s HR’d in every game I’ve been to so far), Christiansen, and (defensively) Elpidio Guzman. The guys on my first list have been dreadful to watch, and the guys on my second list have been fun to watch. Unfortunately, I missed out on the pre-AS-game-callups (Bucky, Leone, Madritsch, Sherrill), as I’ve only recently discovered the gem we have in Tacoma.

    Certainly at his age, Lopez could benefit from a little more seasoning. He hasn’t shown me anything at the big league level that justifies his earning of the starting SS position next season. I’d much rather have a 2-3 year FA solution at short to hold the position for whichever of our current minor league SS’s (Morse, Tui, Garciaparra, Guzman, Lopez, Jones, etc…) develops the soonest. Personally, I’d be OK with signing Omar to hold the fort defensively for 1-2 years, as long as it was a short and cheap contract. I’d MUCH rather have Omar than Ramon Santiago and Juan Gonzales right now, nevermind Aurillia…

  21. Pete on August 27th, 2004 12:15 pm

    Sheesh, give the dude a break. He is 20 years old. Think about what we were all doing at age 20…more importantly, think about where our mind’s were, and about the discipline the average 20-year-old exhibits. Sure, there have been very rare cases of late-teen/early-20’s kids developing into star players in the majors. But not everyone is The Kid or A-Rod or Miguel Cabrera, etc.

    People mature at different speeds. Look at Carlos Guillen and Adrian Beltre. They weren’t tearing it up as 20-year-olds.

    If his work ethic improves – there’s no reason to believe it won’t as he realizes what it will take to succeed in the majors – and he gains more maturity (a natural process), he’ll show improvement. I think we all agree that he has some darn good tools.

    Why is there this expectation that he should already be a superstar? It’s ridiculous. He’s been in up for all of a month or so.

    And do we really need him to be a superstar right now? No, we pretty much suck. All we really need (even for the team to be highly competitive) is for him to be a serviceable shortstop for the next couple of years. We’ve seen no reason to assume that he won’t be. He should easily be able to duplicate Carlos Guillen’s pre-2004 numbers, and provide a glove somewhere between the pathetic Aurilia and the smooth-as-silk Guillen (probably closer to the Guillen end).

    What more can we expect from him? If he turns 23 (still young) and he’s hitting .260, maybe think about a negative evaluation.

    But sheesh.

  22. Dave on August 27th, 2004 2:11 pm


    Don’t get too caught up in Lopez’s raw numbers. The PCL is the second most hitter-friendly league in baseball this year. Only the rookie level Pioneer League is as offensively focused. His .505 SLG loses a decent amount of luster when league effects are factored in. The league average PCL hitter is hitting .284/.353/.453, not that far from Lopez’s .295/.342/.505 mark. Keep in mind, his performance at Tacoma translated to a .231 MjEqA this year, which is somewhere in between last year and this year’s version of Willie Bloomquist.

    Now, don’t take this as a knock on Lopez’s potential. I just think the talk of him being ready to help a major league club before 2006 is overoptimism at its worst, and really has no factual support. Even the best case scenario guys with his skillset (Beltre, Tejada, and Jose Guillen) sucked for their first several years. Beltre is only now living up to expectations. Tejada wasn’t a useful major league player until 23 and wasn’t productive until 24. Guillen is on his fourth major league organization, and is a perfect example of the dangers of rushing a player because you are enamored with his potential. Even though the Pirates were right about his development, they don’t get to taste any of the rewards because of their impatience.

    Players with Lopez’s skillset often take a while to learn to stop getting themselves out. When they do, they make pretty big leaps forward and can go from scrub to star in little time. However, a lot of them still never make that leap. Wilson Betemit is darn near identical to Lopez in skillset and is still toiling in Triple-A.

    Lopez hasn’t dominated his competition since A ball. He held his own in Double-A and was solid, but not spectacular, in Triple-A. He hasn’t shown any signs of being on the verge of making the leap from scrub to star. Just based on age, we can suggest that its still very possible that he will, but expecting him to do it in the next 12 months is wishcasting.

  23. Dave S. on August 27th, 2004 2:20 pm

    Dave, I’m just curious…

    Who do you propose we put at shortstop next season?

    There is a very good argument to be made that Lopez should be in the minors, but it’s cancelled out by the fact that we have finite resources to spend, a thrifty front office, and more pressing needs at other positions. Sure, we could try to sign a Renteria, or, even less likely, Garciaparra, but in the end we’d still have a gaping hole at third base and 1B/DH, with a declining bat in leftfield. In other words, are we going to sacrifice production at one of three premium offensive positions so that we can overpay for a shortstop? The tradeoff isn’t nearly worth it, in this case. I’ll take Jose Lopez over Willie Bloomquist, Omar Vizquel, Jolbert Cabrera, or any one of the number of scrubs the M’s would attempt to sign.

    Shortstop is low on the priority list, Dave. I’d put it in 5th, maybe even 6th place, behind third base, first base, outfield, starting pitching, and possibly an ace reliever.

  24. Dave on August 27th, 2004 2:38 pm

    Rushing a prospect because your orgnaization is full of crap at a position is just lack of effort. The main tenet of baseball that I wish the M’s would grasp is that of freely available talent. Jose Lopez isn’t likely to help the Mariners next year anymore so than the scores of non-roster invitees that could be had for nothing during the offseason.

    If the M’s can’t find a permanent solution at short, they’d be better off just picking up Gookie Dawkins, Denny Hocking, or Felix Escalona for nothing. None of these guys are going to help the team win anything, but they’ll be replacement level for the major league minimum while allowing Lopez to continue to work in Triple-A. If he makes The Leap sometime next summer, no harm done to bring him up and have him take the job.

    I’d still love to see the M’s try to buy low on Felipe Lopez, whom the Reds have almost given up on. Taking high-reward flyers like that for peanuts is one of the advantages a non-contending team has.

    The priority for Lopez needs to be development, not patching a hole for 2005 that can be patched just as easily by scouring the waiver wire and doing a bit of homework.

  25. Pete on August 27th, 2004 2:38 pm

    I agree Dave S.

    Lopez breathes, therefore he is a huge upgrade from Aurilia, and a far better option than our other choices. The order you listed as your priorites is also right on target.

    I’d rank them:

    #1 3B
    #2a 1B/DH
    #2b CF
    #3 Front line starting pitcher
    #4 Late-inning reliever
    #5 More relief
    #6 Left-handed pinch hitter
    #7 Shortstop

  26. Cindy on August 27th, 2004 2:45 pm

    “Get your pitch,” draw as many BB’s as you can, is a wonderful approach, yes. But let’s not pound every peg in the minors and majors into our “must be selective at the plate” mold.
    Vlad Guerrero, Pudge Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada, and a ton of other Latin bangers hack away. As the article points out — it’s because they can.
    Ichiro is the latest current example of an “attacking” hitter who was messed up by the Paul Molitor “be more selective” dogma.
    The mere fact that Jose Lopez can hit anything that the catcher can catch, and that Lopez takes the battle to the pitcher, that doesn’t make him high risk. He’s a classic Latin free swinger.
    Lopez is 20, he’s ripped up the PCL in a real tough pitcher’s park, and his Rainiers coaches are telling us he’s all done with AAA.
    Let’s know when we have a monster prospect here, hmmmmm?

  27. Cindy on August 27th, 2004 2:51 pm

    It is not Lopez’ RAW numbers that we are getting caught up in.
    Future Davenport Translations take -translated- numbers, park-adjusted numbers that is, and plot them against a huge database of similar players.
    FDT’s were bananas for Jose Lopez in 2004. They were like .300/.375/.570 MLE at Lopez’ peak.
    It isn’t Lopez’ raw numbers that are the point. It is his -Cheney- numbers: compare them to Jeremy Reed’s.

  28. Dave S. on August 27th, 2004 3:08 pm

    The raw numbers for Lopez are impressive enough… When you consider that they came from a 20 year old shortstop playing half of his games in Cheney, then you see why we’re so high on him. I think there’s an excellent argument that he has nothing left to prove in AAA, and that holding him down now would only hinder his development.

  29. Dave S. on August 27th, 2004 3:17 pm

    Which, of course, isn’t to say that there isn’t merit to the idea of taking a flier on a stopgap, for the league minimum. But there’s also a reason to believe that Lopez can be decent next year to hold the position.

  30. Cindy on August 27th, 2004 3:38 pm

    And, there are questions here that go beyond simply “what makes the Mariners better in 2005” and “do we want Lopez’ age-27 year or his age-21 year.”
    Bavasi’s idea, right or wrong, is to do what’s best for Lopez’ development. The Mariners believe, right or wrong, that Lopez has nothing more to learn in AAA. Many people agree with them.
    Bavasi is trying to sacrifice something in the year 2010 or 2011, in order to bring Lopez up to speed quicker and make his move on the pennant, ASAP. That deserves its own credit.
    That’s why the M’s are forever passing on Miguel Tejada and Ivan Rodriguez — they’re always telling us that they’re ‘protecting’ the team’s interests for six years down the line.
    The idea of tring to get their tails in gear NOW, get Lopez up to speed ASAP and to try to win ASAP, is refreshing.

  31. Justin on August 27th, 2004 11:08 pm

    Dave –

    You bring up the (ridiculously high) PCL avg hitter line to invalidate Lopez’s raw numbers, but wouldn’t you say this is more than cancelled out by the park effects that Cheney Stadium has had on him?

    .246 with 11 XBH in 114 AB at home
    .329 with 21 XBH in 161 AB on the road

    Admittedly, Safeco Field probably will not be any easier than Cheney Stadium; but on the issue of Lopez’s raw numbers, I’d have to disagree with you and suggest they’re legit.

  32. the raindrops on August 28th, 2004 10:35 am
    This and That
    Jeremy has a nice rundown of all the happenings in Mets world today, so head on over and get your read on. Mike at The Metropolitans also has some nice coverage, though I should warn you he’s posted some not…