Felipe Lopez Will Wear the Red Bird

If Felipe Lopez earns the maximum payout on his 2010 player contract, he will earn roughly $2.2M from the Cardinals. Lopez was worth nearly 5 wins last season and roughly 3 wins in the three seasons prior to that. Alex Cora has 5.9 WAR since 2002 and he will earn at least $2M next season with the chance to earn $3M with certain incentives, or vest a 2011 option worth an additional $2M.

Besides the fact that life just isn’t fair at time, a few other factors played into Lopez’ pay being lower than Cora’s – even beyond Omar Minaya’s indiscretion in re-signing Cora instead of waiting out the middle-infielder market. Lopez carries with him questionable makeup that removed a few potential suitors and he’s coming off a career season in which he’s highly unlikely to repeat.

The Cardinals’ depth chart up the middle features Brendan Ryan (currently nursing a wrist injury), Julio Lugo, Skip Schumaker, Tyler Green, and minor league invitee Ruben Gotay. Assuming Schumaker can also fill the role of reserve outfielder, there’s a pretty good chance three of those players make the opening day roster with Lopez, with the clear advantages being held in that order. This gives the Cardinals some pretty nice depth, and also allows for an alternative at third base if David Freese is to slip up.

The finances of this deal are excellent for the Cardinals. If he never steps on the field, it’s a sunk cost at the price of a middle reliever. If he plays well, the most he can earn is the price of … well, a slightly better middle reliever. It’s a fail-safe commitment and one that comes on a wildly varying performer. Check his wOBA and plate appearance totals over the last three seasons:

2007: 671 PA, .295 wOBA
2008: 532 PA, .320 wOBA
2009: 680 PA, .356 wOBA

What he’ll do next season is anyone’s guess. CHONE and Marcel combine for a .326 average, which would be more than enough to justify this deal and would essentially equal his career total.

Good job by the opportunistic Cardinals.

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10 Responses to “Felipe Lopez Will Wear the Red Bird”

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  1. flyerdog11 says:

    It’s Tyler Greene, with an e at the end. And yes, that matters, because Tyler Green with no terminal e is a different player, so your auto-linker is pointing to the wrong guy.

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  2. Joe R says:

    The Cubs should be embarassed.
    Is that team seriously happy with Fontenot as their 2B? Yet another nail in the coffin for the rest of the NL Central.

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  3. awesomodynamo says:

    this is a steal, no doubt about it.

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  4. Tim In Missouri says:

    Maybe all the spazzes over at the Post Dispatch forums will stop hyperventillating now. I hang out here because there is no hate. If you are bored and want to find out the level of stupid[lacking or marked by lack of intellectual acuity] fans can reach just check out the “CardsTalk” forums.

    I really believe that St. Louis has some of the best fans in baseball. Did Johnny Damon get a standing O the first time he took the field at Fenway in pinstripes? Jim Edmonds got one as a Cub. However, the interwebs(especially at the PD) are full of cowards who would never say in person what they type anonymously. Maybe with the Lopez signing (on the cheap!) they will finally stop calling the GM a loser…nevermind, Hell isn’t freezing over anytime soon.

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    • gnomez says:

      The fact remains, Mozeliak has made some awful moves as well. Some of his signings have ended up really well, but that’s more a matter of the market than his skill. He has an egregious tendency to overpay in trades, and it’s too early to judge how he’s drafted.

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  5. gnomez says:

    I find it hard to believe Lugo is higher on the depth chart than Schumaker. With a better UZR/150 last year, Schumaker has hit .307 with a .769 OPS over the last three years; Lugo has hit .255 with a .681 OPS and is a right-handed hitter in an already righty-dominated lineup. I will be surprised if Lugo is not in another uniform by the end of spring training.

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