Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Could Jose Lopez turn back the clock to his 2009 form in 2012?
It seems that whatever "surprising deal" Indians GM Chris Antonetti was hinting at back at the Dallas winter meetings wasn’t quite what Tribe fans had been hoping for.
No Michael Cuddyer. No Josh Willingham. No Yonder Alonso. Instead, the Tribe signed Felix Pie and Jose Lopez to minor league contracts, and traded promising reliever Cory Burns to the Padres for outfielder Aaron Cunningham. 111 career home runs in 1,503 career games played between the three. Not exactly the "pop" many had in mind. I’d be surprised if either Pie or Cunningham make the final 25-man roster out of spring training.
The one possible exception could be Lopez, who averaged 15 HR, 77 RBI, a .269 BA and a .310 OBP during his five seasons as an everyday starter from 2006-2010. Barring further unforeseen moves by Antonetti, Lopez will likely serve as Matt LaPorta’s competition for the starting job at first.
Where Lopez does offer a recent track record of some pop—he hit 25 HR in 2009—he has an atrocious .294 career OBP. The guy simply does not draw walks. The most he’s drawn for a season was in 2009, when he walked 27 times in 644 ABs.
Lopez’s production has skidded following two promising seasons in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, he hit just .239 with a .270 OBP in 150 games for the Mariners. He hit just .216 with a .245 OBP in 82 games last season with the Rockies and Marlins. Maybe a move back to the American League will boost his numbers, but right now, the Tribe is battling two guys for their starting first base job who’ve never been able to battle their way on base.
With the Tribe roster set to look the same in 2012 as it did in 2011, how can an 80-win squad have any hope of overtaking the Tigers, who only strengthened their bullpen after signing Octavio Dotel? Let's start with the offense.