Continuing my line of question-based headlines, here's one for you to ponder. The Seattle Mariners appear poised to non-tender second baseman/third baseman Jose Lopez and the Arizona Diamondbacks have reportedly non-tendered lefty outfielder Ryan Church. Can you guess which move I'm going to advocate for and which one I'll avoid?
For starters, Jose Lopez may not be a viable candidate to play second base again. From what I've been hearing, he was out of shape as a third baseman and has serious questions about whether he can regain his previous form. Writers around the country yesterday started jumping on the "Do the So-and-So's need Lopez?" bandwagon, thinking he can still be that all-star player. After reading some of the local press on him, I'm not convinced he'll bounce back. I'm not even convinced he's an upgrade over Jeff Keppinger. Lopez doesn't walk as much, hasn't shown consistent gap power in his career and probably plays a little worse defense than Kepp. The only thing he has over our own Scrappy-Do is he can occasionally hit home runs. I even doubt that part of his skill set, since he's hit more than 20 only once in his career and saw a precipitous drop in his homer and double total last season. So, no, the Astros should not go after Lopez.
Church, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense as that platoon partner for Jason Michaels out in left field. Church has shown no ability to hit right-handers in the past few seasons, but hit .290/.350/.405 against right-handers as recently as 2009. Yes, he's 32 and yes, he's been really bad overall the past few years. Also, little trivia fact, he has never hit a home run at Minute Maid Park.
Still, Church is one of the few decent left-handed outfielders on the market right now. Would I prefer someone like Scott Hairston or Tony Gwynn, Jr.? Nope. Hairston may have more power potential, but he's never been consistent enough to think he could do it as the everyday left fielder. And that's what we're talking about if we take anyone who's not left handed for this spot. Have you seen the list of free agent outfielders? It's seriously depressing. We're talking, Garret Anderson, Rick Ankiel, Scotty Pods, Bill Hall...Looking through their stat lines is like looking at replacement level players over and over and over again.
Is Church the only answer? Nope, probably not. But, if the Astros can get him for a reasonable salary (1 million?), he makes sense. In fact, that'd be my negotiating strategy with these guys. Say, "We have 1 million to spend. Who's taking it?"* These guys are all interchangeable, anyways, right?
*And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am NOT a general manager of a major league baseball team.