Cardinals Release Felipe Lopez

The Cardinals released super-utility infielder Felipe Lopez yesterday after what can only be described as a disappointing 2010 season. Lopez hit only .231/.310/.340 for the Cardinals and rated as relatively poor on defense. All together, Lopez only posted 0.2 WAR in 425 plate appearances for St. Louis. The last straw for Cardinals’ management appears to have been Lopez’s continual tardiness, coming to a head yesterday, according to Fox Sports Midwest.

It’s hard to fault the Cardinals for investing in Lopez, as the season cost them only one million dollars. Lopez was coming off of a career year between the Diamondbacks and the Brewers, a season in which he posted 3.9 WAR and a 116 wRC+. In that sense, it’s kind of a surprise that Lopez was forced to take such a small contract, but apparently teams saw through the .358 BABIP and perhaps some of these behavioral issues which resulted in Lopez’s release were known prior to the season. Regardless, picking up a player who CHONE projected for 2.5 WAR for only a cool million has to be considered a shrewd investment that simply didn’t work out.

Going forward, it’s hard to say that much has changed with Lopez. Outside of BABIP fluctuations, his last four years rate as slightly below average to average as a hitter. Lopez walks slightly more than average and makes slightly more contact than average. His weak spot is his power, as he’s typically a single-digit home run player. Much as his great numbers from 2009 were BABIP supported, his poor numbers from 2010 are a result of a low .272 BABIP. CHONE’s updated projections have Lopez’s slash line at .270/.343/.390, a roughly average line for a MLB hitter.

Given the issues that Lopez apparently had with management as well as the fact that Lopez’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season anyway, the Cardinals’ decision to release Lopez makes sense and is hardly likely to negatively affect their future. But Lopez’s struggles this season don’t suggest that he’s finished as a productive player by any means. It would behoove teams with open infield utility spots on their bench or teams desperate for a 2B or 3B starter to take a look at Lopez next season, as he will likely be cheap once again and he should provide somewhere between one and two wins above replacement.




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8 Responses to “Cardinals Release Felipe Lopez”

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  1. Tony_J says:

    It would make a lot of sense for the Mets to pick him up for 2011 given their poor internal options for 2B and the likelihood of significant payroll constraints.

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  2. cpebbles says:

    Lopez claimed to be uncomfortable at 3B, and certainly looked even worse there than he did at 2B.

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    • BillJamesOnline says:

      Jack:

      Do your homework before you present analysis which only barely scratches the surface:

      “Lopez walks slightly more than average and makes slightly more contact than average. His weak spot is his power, as he’s typically a single-digit home run player.”

      Lopez is NOT nor has he EVER been counted on to be primary/2ndary source of power; he’s a setup man in the lineup + decent 2B glove who can in a pinch man other infield positions.

      That’s it.

      If you’d done your homework, you would have known the guy injured his elbow pitching in a lopsided, extra innings loss earlier in the year. When he came back (prematurely) from that injury, he ended up playing out of position at 3B for more games than his primary skilled position (2B).

      Add it all up, the guy was playing w/injured arm, was forced to be over exposed on defense & offense, & knew he was the odd man out between Miles/Schumaker/cheaper replacements from the farm system.

      Given he was on a 1yr $1m contract (down from his $4m/yr days) is it reasonable to assume his BABIP was negatively impacted by a lingering arm injury, different positional/lineup role, & being in not the best mental state of mind knowing no matter how well he produced, lesser players (Miles or Schumaker) would block his roster spot anyway?

      Given those circumstances, I would’ve expected a more thorough analysis to consider changes in his underlying stats:

      Did his pitch recognition/swing attempts materially change?

      Did his LD to FlyBall rate change due to injury or lineup role?

      Did his Swing strike rate or Outside Zone rates change pre/post injury and/or position shift?

      Etc, etc., etc.

      Overall, the analysis articles on FG have grown to represent this level and is very dissappointing from the early days.

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      • BillJamesOnline says:

        Btw, Jack: As part of your background research, you would have already known the Cards do NOT look for power from 2B & as a result haven’t/intend to pay for more than a .8 – 1.0 WAR player at best.

        One BIG reason the 2B & SS positions have been a revolving door for past 4 years.

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  3. BillJamesOnline says:

    Oh, btw Jack…Lopez fired his agent before spring training because he felt he was screwed over in securing a better contract.

    He had to accept the Cards bargain basement deal afterwards just to latch on to any team that late in the spring invite process.

    How would you like to perform once you graduate from college on a job for 25% of what you’ve earned in the recent past?

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