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A Not-So-Fond Farewell to Felipe

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I thought Felipe Lopez was a great signing. I really did. So did pretty much everyone else. Hell, I still say he was a great signing, a chance to get a legitimate plus bat at the utility position for a mere $1 million. In a landscape where middling players command multi-year deals all over the place a bare million bucks with a one-year commitment was a positive steal for a player boasting Floppy's track record with the bat. 

Unfortunately, the Felipe Lopez Story, when it is written, will contain an especially ugly chapter for the 2010 season, and that chapter will have far more in common with the story of the Cardinals' 2010 than any of us would like. In fact, if you're looking for a micro to go with the Cards' macro, Felipe Lopez just might be the best place to start. 

It's a shame Lopez and the Cardinals' second partnership didn't work out nearly as well as the first one. When they brought him in late in the 2008 season after the Washington Nationals finally tired of his poor performance and even worse attitude, Felipe provided the Cards with a much-needed offensive spark. He posted a .964 OPS over 169 plate appearances, and looked like a completely different player than the one Washington had released. This season he's fought injuries and defensive shortcomings, particularly of the throwing variety. 

Worse yet, he looked like the Washington version of Felipe Lopez, the indifferent player we all thought had disappeared thanks to a winning, positive environment. John Mozeliak, always careful to keep club business behind the wall, was not at all shy about discussing Lopez's chronic tardiness as a big part of the reason the club decided to let him walk. I never expected miracles from Lopez, who has been a brutal defender for most of his career at most of the positions he's played, but there were times this year when even I was ready to buy him a ticket out of town on one of those grounders that rolled juuuust beyond his reach. 

I do wonder where Lopez will go from here. He's been run out of town, again, by a team fed up with his off-field behaviour, and his production this season was nowhere near good enough to make up for the problems he brought along with him. There just aren't that many teams looking for a .651 OPS and clubhouse issues. 

I'm sure Lopez will find his way into a minor-league deal with some team before next season; there are always teams on the lookout for good bounceback candidates, and Felipe just might be a pretty good bet. Even if not, the Mets seem to gravitate toward aging Latin players with clubhouse questions; Felipe may want to get Omar Minaya's home number and assign it a speed dial key. 

Regardless of where Lopez ends up, I wish him well. He gave us an excellent performance in 2008, hit a couple big homers for the Cards this season, and has still managed to be worth more than Skip Schumaker. (0.2 WAR for Felipe vs 0.0 for Skippy) So good luck, Floppy. I'll never forget watching you throw a curveball. Maybe one of these days you'll find a place where you can be happy for more than a month or two at a time. 

Or maybe not. I don't really care. And since you're not on my team anymore, I don't have to. 


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