I know, it's hard to imagine that Felipe Lopez would be a savior. Of course, I have been saying for weeks now that the Cardinals need a real spark, something that could be on the field every night. Maybe this is it.
Lopez hasn't fared well in Washington. This season, he had a batting line of .234/.305/.314 (AVG/OBP/SLG). He only has two home runs and 25 runs batted in, with four stolen bases in nine tries.
By looking at these numbers, you wouldn't think that he's anything special. Let me show you some other numbers and see if you can name the players that the Cardinals added mid-season.
3-10 (16 starts), 6.29 ERA in 88 2/3 innings
.324/.464/.630, 6 HR and 20 RBI in 38 games
.291/.337/.420, 8 HR and 44 RBI in 93 games
I'll save you some research time and tell you everyone.
The first player is Jeff Weaver, a castoff by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, he became a postseason hero when he shut down every team he faced (San Diego Padres, New York Mets and Detroit Tigers). He anchored a weak starting staff in the post season run, and turned it into an $8 million contract.
Of course, as soon as he left St. Louis, he became Clark Kent, and hasn't fared well at all. The most important thing was, he was our postseason hero and led the Cardinals to the World Series title.
Player number two is none other than Larry Walker. Walker was added in a waiver trade after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. This deal was one that made Walt Jocketty an elite general manager.
Pretty much traded for garbage, Walker joined a team that ended up winning 105 games. In 2004, the Cardinals had their MV3 (Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds) led by the best starting staff in the Majors. Walker made it all work. He brought in new blood to a tiring offense and boosted them to the next level.
Walker batted second in that fierce Cardinal lineup. The Cardinals flew to the World Series and floundered. Adding him boosted that team and made them great. Without him, the Cardinals wouldn't have been as good, playing with a revolving door in left field.
The third player is another batter, this time for the 2006 team. That's right, it's Mr. Ronald Belliard. Belliard was traded to the Cardinals for Hector Luna (ironically, Luna was picked in the Rule 5 draft by the Cardinals from the Indians in 2004. The Cardinals traded $50,000 for 2 1/2 years of Luna and Belliard).
Belliard's numbers weren't as good with St. Louis as they were with Cleveland, but his presence boosted the Cardinals lineup. He brought spunk and a never-give-up attitude, along with good defense. He lightened the clubhouse and partnered with Weaver, they helped nudge the Cardinals from mediocre to great in the postseason.
The morale of the story kids, is this: don't overlook anything. Any signing or trade can make a team better. Sometimes, it's a pitcher. Other and most times it's a batter. It doesn't necessarily have to be a headline grabbing move (like trading for CC Sabathia or Rich Harden), just one that boosts the club.
Sometimes, your team is good just as it is. Adding a new player to the mix to boost the team will always make you better. Lopez may be the silver lining the Cardinals have been looking for that might, just might, push them over the top from mediocre to good.
Being good means you make the playoffs. Being great means you win the World Series. Will Lopez make the 2008 Cardinals great? We'll see as we near the end of October.
All I know is for now, the Cardinals might have just made the postseason.
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