Felipe Lopez to Cardinals for $1 Million is the Steal of the Winter

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IFebruary 27, 2010

Cubs fans, we should look at the Cardinals agreement with second baseman Felipe Lopez as an insult. With no sure-fire, proven starter at the position, why wouldn't Cubs GM Jim Hendry at least consider signing this guy?

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweeted that Lopez only got $1 million in base salary with easily obtainable bonuses that could take the deal to $1.2 million.

Look, I'm not saying that Lopez is a great player, or even the best player of this winter's free agent class. Far from it.

But to only have to devote one year and such a minuscule (by today's standards) amount to a productive hitter and a decent fielder makes the Cardinals better, and makes it harder for the Cubs to win the division in 2010.

Don't get me wrong, he is not a difference maker. If St. Louis takes the title, it won't be because of Lopez.

But he's a piece of the puzzle, a piece that would have looked good in a Cubs uniform.

Since he was let go by Washington in 2008, Lopez has a .325/.392/.450 slash. Not too shabby at all. And, he is only 29. Defensively, while UZR is far from a perfect stat, he is rated as above average at second base.

The fact is, he would have been a cheap solution to a problem that has plagued the Cubs since Hendry decided that Mike Fontenot was a starting second baseman.

And, just like with Fontenot, Hendry is once again using a small sample size to determine that a career utility player like Jeff Baker is worthy of a starting position on a big market team that has postseason aspirations.

It is not only a slap in the face of Cubs fans, it also makes a division rival stronger. And let's face it, St. Louis already has a better team on paper, so why not spend a million if for no other reason to avoid your competitor from improving?

But the kicker is that Lopez is a decent player. So the reason the Cubs should have signed him is to improve their own ball club.

I'm not suggesting that he wouldn't have picked the Cards over the Cubs if it came down to that. I'm suggesting that if the Cubs had come to the party a bit earlier maybe there would have been no competition to sign him.

I know that St. Louis had been rumored to be interested in Lopez all winter, but it wasn't until recently that they actually put their money where their mouth is. Since a bird in the hand is worth more than a lick and promise, perhaps Lopez would have taken an offer from the Cubs. 

Well, it is what it is, as they say.

Meanwhile, the Cubs need an arm for the bullpen, something they probably needed even before news of Angel Guzman's sore shoulder came about. And they need Ted Lilly to come back sooner than later or the rotation will be iffy.

But Lopez would have been a nice addition, come to think of it.


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