Cardinals fans would be wise to check the P-D site around now—they're apparently close to a deal with Felipe Lopez for one year at less than $2 million, per Joe Strauss. [UPDATE: ESPN is apparently reporting it's confirmed.] That's a great deal, so there's not much to talk about as far as money goes; the Cardinals still hold some of their much-discussed dry powder and also fill a hole that lboros noted, in the comments, as having the fewest and least-satisfying in-house candidates of the remaining spots. So if we can't discuss money, the early story lines look like this—
- Lopez has been excellent since joining the Cardinals in 2008, but it's important to remember, when projecting his performance going forward, that his terrible year and a half in Washington really did happen, and really should be part of any understanding of Felipe Lopez the player. For 250 games he combined a sub-.650 OPS with borderline Lugo-caliber defense at shortstop; the new OBP-machine Lopez has only been online for 194 games. And while it's easy to overlook it as a question of effort, neither reason for his age-27 collapse is very heartening. His CHONE projection—.273/.344/.381—seems like a good place to start.
- This is weird news for David Freese; Lopez is no less a hitter, and barring a Freese collapse ends up on the bench mainly because he's able to play more positions. That's reason enough for the Cardinals to use their resources this way, but it has to be odd for Lopez, coming off his best season in five years.
- It's bad news for Ruben Gotay, who is the poor man's Felipe Lopez, and Julio Lugo, who's suddenly been usurped as both second base platoon-partner and bad-field/good-hit insurance shortstop. Gotay will almost certainly start the season in Memphis; Lugo's skills are now duplicated by a better hitter, which makes Tyler Greene a better choice on the roster, if not a better bet to make it.
But it's good news for the Cardinals, who have considerably more insurance across the infield than they did yesterday.