M’s lock up Lopez

Dave · April 18, 2007 at 1:57 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s signed Jose Lopez to a four year deal through the 2011 season today, buying out all his arbitration years (but not his first year of free agency) and giving them some cost certainty with one of their better young talents.

If you’ve been to either of the USSM feeds where Bavasi talked, you know he’s a huge fan of locking up large groups of young players to long term deals. He did this same thing when he was with the Angels, and they estimated that they saved about $35 to $40 million. It’s a sound strategy, and one that I’m glad to see the Mariners continue.

It’s also a significant investment in Lopez, and a good sign that the organization was still willing to commit to him despite a lackluster second half and a poor start to 2007. Lopez still has the talent to be a well above average second baseman, and getting him signed now is a low risk, high upside move. If he breaks out and turns into an all-star, the club has saved a fortune, and the cost is low enough that even worst case scenarios aren’t financially debilitating. There is some downside, as Lopez has been dogged by a reputation of being a less than hard worker through the years and his conditioning has been up and down, and giving guaranteed money to a guy with work ethic issues can backfire in your face. But Lopez has matured quite a bit in the past couple of years, and it shouldn’t be that big of a concern.

The M’s have now signed Putz, Betancourt, and Lopez to multiyear deals. Felix has been making public noise about getting one since 2005, so you know he’s angling to be next in line. It will be interesting to see how the M’s handle Felix’s situation, but I would think its totally plausible that they get something done with him before the season ends.


67 Responses to “M’s lock up Lopez”

  1. em on April 18th, 2007 3:35 pm

    Ted Williams said it best: “history is made middle in”. Strike one and strike two, a hitter should be looking for a pitch that he can turn on, because your bat velocity is higher the more you rotate.

    Outside pitches are properly struck deep in the strike zone, near the back of the plate. Strong hitters letting the outside pitch “get deep” can drive it out of the park to the opposite field, but there is a power reduction because of the bat speed reduction. Conversely, if you try to pull an outside pitch, you tend to roll over your wrists and pound the ball into the ground. Heavy GB hitters are of two types: those with horrible timing, and those that deliberately swing “down”.

    On the other hand, Ted Williams endorsed the “inside out” swing in 2-strike counts, with the idea that any pitch can be put in play up the middle or to the opposite field with the inside out stroke. Check out epsteinhitting.com if you want more details on the inside out stroke.

    Coaching a player to hit to opposite field is rightly considered lunacy. If you are hitting “inside out” all the time, you have no bat speed. “Inside out” swings don’t have the wrist snap that characterizes a powerful swing.

    Inside pitches need to be hit about a foot in front of the plate, and driven to the CF/Corner fielder gap. pitches in the middle should be struck right on the front edge of the plate and driven either up the middle or with a slight pull to the gap. Further, this idea isn’t debatable, and if it isn’t preached to ALL hitters, then the coach should be fired. Period.

  2. MKT on April 18th, 2007 3:36 pm


    I mean his main references seem to be Doc Gooden in 1984 and, going back beyond that, maybe Alexander the Great in 333BC?

    I think it was Peter Gammons who called Gooden “baseball’s Mozart” so naw, I think we only have to go back to the 18th century.

    Either that or we have to go to the 14th century BCE and the original Boy King: Tut. 😉

  3. idahowriter on April 18th, 2007 3:37 pm

    So, Dave, what’s your gut feeling about re-signing Ichiro? Do the M’s plan to go with Jones and sell high on Ichiro?

  4. david h on April 18th, 2007 3:38 pm

    idea isn’t debatable, and if it isn’t preached to ALL hitters, then the coach should be fired. Period.


  5. em on April 18th, 2007 3:40 pm

    Ichiro hits the ball where it’s pitched, even if it is in the dirt.

  6. CSG on April 18th, 2007 3:40 pm

    I don’t think anyone tries to coach Ichiro.

  7. wilymo on April 18th, 2007 3:40 pm

    41. I’m just saying if he was to sign a 4 year deal and you used Zambrano as a point of reference — basically you’d be at:

    year 1: 1 mil
    year 2: 4 mil (1st arby year)
    year 3: 7 mil
    year 4: 13 mil

    You’d be at a 4 yr. 25 mil contract. If you factor in the small discount that the M’s would get for guaranteeing him the money with the injury risk and all you could probably knock a few off. I’ll give him the benefit of doubt though and factor in that Felix could be in for a monumental season though and that the Mariners realize that. The other factor though is Felix is coming off a shaky statistical year which plays in the M’s favor should they try to sign him to a long term deal this year.

  8. colm on April 18th, 2007 3:42 pm

    As phenomenal as Williams was, isn’t he also considered the last of the “dead-red pull hitters” to be so successful?

  9. em on April 18th, 2007 3:47 pm

    Williams was not a “dead pull” hitter. He wanted to pull, just as we want Lopez to pull. That was the point of my post – he preferred to hit a ball with maximum bat speed.

    Consider also that Williams belonged to a different era, when the slider was emerging as a force in the pitcher’s arsenal. Williams acknowledged that the slider was the most difficult pitch to hit because it messed with his timing and pitch recognition. Imagine Williams having to hit a Clemens split-finger or a Felix two-seamer?? Get out in front of a pitch just a little and you are tearing up the infield grass (splitters). Miss-time the cutter because you are swinging for the middle of the plate but it bears to the inside corner, and you are hitting off the handle (getting “jammed”).

  10. david h on April 18th, 2007 3:47 pm

    58 – he’s pretty much the last of the “hitters” to be so successful

  11. wilymo on April 18th, 2007 3:52 pm

    Also look at the deals that Matt Cain and Harden signed after their first full seasons. 4 year deals that bought out 2 arbitration years. 4 years – 9-10 mil. Like I said, Felix has a much higher ceiling, but both of them had better first full years statistically than Felix. In arbitration, you get paid for what you’ve done moreso than what you might do. If Felix waits until after the season or atleast until after a half of season of doing what he’s doing to sign a long-term deal then who knows what he might sign for. He’s gonna get more than Cain and Harden but he’s not going to get paid as if he were a free agent either.

  12. atait on April 18th, 2007 3:57 pm

    Personally, I think it will be a boon for Jose’s future once Hargrove leaves town. Hargrove turned Jose into a worm-killing, move the runner over-hitter who has lost some aggressiveness at the plate.

    Jose has the potential to be a plus bat at 2B, but that’s contingent on getter Grover out of here.

  13. loki on April 18th, 2007 4:33 pm

    Why does Grover need to be out of here for Jose to be a plus bat? I don’t have a problem with Hargrove leaving, I’m just saying the two don’t necessarily have to be connected. Why can’t Jose change back to his pull-hitting ways a bit while Hargrove is still here? He’s not hitting 2nd anymore where Grover seemed to ask him to put down the sac bunt all the time…

  14. David* on April 18th, 2007 4:43 pm


    Are you saying Lopez lacks grit?

  15. atait on April 18th, 2007 5:08 pm

    For one, I think Hargrove and the coaches messed him up too much by urging him to be a “move him over” hitter. Two, I really don’t see much to indicate they are working to get Jose back to driving the ball to the alleys. As long as Grover is here, he isn’t going to hurry to change Jose back.

  16. kmsandrbs on April 18th, 2007 6:48 pm

    So, I think it would be great to get articles on signing Felix and Ichiro by the USSM quartet.

    I’d probably want the M’s to work out a deal that covers arbitration years and gives them a team option for the first year of free agency.

    I’d like to think the M’s would offer a slightly higher than normal offer, so that if Felix’s ace ways continue, he is predisposed to return to the team. But, reality tells me that things don’t work that way, in part because 1) the potential injury factor with young pitchers and 2) reliance on Felix seeing the ‘goodwill’ gesture, which relies on him recognizing that the M’s could probably get him for much less than he is worth over the next several years. They’d probably be better off to sign Felix for the lowest amount possible, and then squirrel extra money away (the amount they ‘would’ have paid) to offer as a nice big signing bonus if he returns in free-agency (and is still the ace pitcher). Of course, I don’t think the M’s will work this way either. I can only hope that they offer a reasonable salary, not for too long.

    Given the potential ace status, I’d also go slightly higher and try to get one or two team option years.

  17. gwangung on April 18th, 2007 7:08 pm

    For one, I think Hargrove and the coaches messed him up too much by urging him to be a “move him over” hitter. Two, I really don’t see much to indicate they are working to get Jose back to driving the ball to the alleys. As long as Grover is here, he isn’t going to hurry to change Jose back.

    Which is really, really stupid.

    From even a fan’s perspective, going the other way is a tool to ADD to your repertoire, not replace it. The only reason to preach going the other way is if you’re not a good enough hitter to pull the ball and be productive.

    Um, hello? For half a season, Lopez showed he COULD pull the ball and be productive. And he’d only get better with age.

    The current strategy is a dull, unimaginative one where players are coached to be what they should be doing, and totally ignores what a player DOES.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…if Hargrove was managing Ichiro when he first came over, he would totally tried to change Ichiro’s style….

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