Brewers Acquire Felipe Lopez From Diamondbacks

M. S.Correspondent IJuly 19, 2009

PHOENIX - JULY 10:  Infielder Felipe Lopez #2 of the Arizona Diamondbacks fields a ground ball out against the Florida Marlins during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on July 10, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Marlins 8-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
After splitting a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds to open up the second half of the season, Doug Melvin and the Milwaukee Brewers made a splash in the National League Central race as they traded for second baseman Felipe Lopez from the Diamondbacks.
Lopez, 29, will be placed in the leadoff spot in the batting order right away to give the Brewers an outstanding bat at the top of the order. With a batting average of .301 and an on-base percentage of .364, the move will allow Jason Kendall to move back down to the eight spot in the batting order. Corey Hart, who also saw at-bats in the leadoff spot, will move back down to the six or seven spot, which should give more consistency to the lineup.

Hart batted .250 in the nine games he led off. Kendall was batting .242 in that spot and Craig Counsell hit .267 batting first. Lopez will give the Brewers an everyday player that can lead off and get on for sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

Another plus in the trade is that utility man Craig Counsell will go back to his “fill-in” role where he can get more days off and stay fresher in the second half of the season.  Casey McGehee will take over responsibilities at third base as prospect Mat Gamel is expected to be sent back to Nashville.

Lopez is able to play second base, shortstop, or third base and was a reason that general manager Doug Melvin pulled the trigger on the trade.

“Felipe is an accomplished veteran player who gives us versatility at three infield positions,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “He has been a very productive player at the top of the order with respect to both batting average and on-base percentage.”

The trade marks the second season in a row that Melvin has traded prospects for a one-year rental. Last year, C.C. Sabathia came over to the Brew Crew in a trade that sent Matt LaPorta, among others, to Cleveland. With just one year left on his contract and a surplus of middle infielders on the roster, Lopez will more than likely walk away after this year.

This year’s prospects traded to the Diamondbacks included Triple-A outfielder Cole Gillespie and Class-A RHP Roque Mercedes.

Gillespie, 25, has spent four years in the Brewers minor league system and was ranked as high as ninth by Baseball America on the Brewers’ prospects list. In his career, he has a .281 average with 42 home runs and 208 RBI’s in the 398 games he has appeared him.  He was struggling this year in Triple-A Nashville, hitting just .242 with seven home runs and 25 runs batted in.

Mercedes holds a career record of 20-22 with nine saves and a 4.50 ERA. However, at just 22-years-old, he still has a decent amount of potential in him. He has pitched well this year with a 1-1 record and 1.08 ERA in 29 appearances for Class-A Brevard County.

The Brewers currently stand in third place in their division, three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. In a division that is completely up for grabs, any move could be a difference maker and general manager Doug Melvin is hoping this will be it.