If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times.
The Twins need another infielder and they need a legitimate hitter to handle the two-hole in the lineup.
Both of these facts have been beaten to death by Twins fans this offseason, and for good reason.
If the season were to start today, Matt Tolbert or Brendan Harris would be a starter at either second or third base.
Call me crazy, but that’s not exactly an ideal scenario.
On the offensive side of things, the Twins need to make a serious effort to upgrade the two-hole in the lineup.
In the last decade, the average on-base-percentage out of the two-hole in the American League is .338, a figure which the Twins consistently fail to meet.
Last time I checked, leaving a black hole in the lineup between Denard Span and Joe Mauer isn’t exactly an optimal situation for long-term success.
Numerous names have been tossed around already for players who could fill one or both of the voids in the lineup and/or defense.
Today I’m adding yet another name to the list, one who just might be the perfect fit, Felipe Lopez.
On the whole Lopez hit his way to an impressive line of .310/.383/.427 with nine homers and a career-best 38 doubles.
Although the numbers were better than his career averages of .269/.338/.400, it isn’t hard to believe that Lopez can continue to post good numbers going forward.
Since becoming a full-time player in 2005, the former first-round draft pick has put up a solid .281/.349/.407 line with five different clubs.
Those numbers get even better if you remove his abysmal 2007 campaign which was marred by constant shuffling in both the Washington Nationals lineup and defensive alignment.
For the same time period, with 2007 removed, his line is an even more remarkable .290/.359/.420.
Needless to say, when he is given a full-time job and a consistent spot in the lineup, he handles himself pretty well with the stick.
On the flipside of the coin is his defense.
While he’s not going to be confused for Placido Polanco or Chase Utley with the leather, he can certainly hold his own. Most statistical metrics ranked him as a top five defender at the keystone corner last season, despite his penchant for piling up errors.
Overall, Lopez makes plenty of sense for the Twins.
Acquiring the switch-hitter would give the Twins a viable number two hitter to slot between Span and Mauer in the lineup and a solid, but not great, defensive second baseman.
He may not be the popular addition that many people—myself included—were hoping for when names like Phillips and Hudson were thrown around, but he would fill the two major vacancies in the Twins’ lineup, presumably at a much cheaper cost.
He made $3.5 million last season after signing as a free agent with Arizona. He figures to earn closer to $5 million in 2010, and that would put him right on par with many of the other options the Twins are rumored to be contemplating.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lopez is a Type B free agent. As such, it wouldn’t cost the Twins a draft pick to sign him.
He may not be the popular choice, but it is entirely possible that he is the perfect fit.