Sunday, October 14, 2007

Now--About FLop


When I first met Felipe Lopez during Spring Training, 2007--he seemed relaxed, maybe a little reserved, that's OK--nothing wrong with that. And, after the decent half season he had just completed over the last half of 2006 playing for Our Washington Nationals--you had to figure FLop was about to have a BREAKOUT 2007. Everything pointed to a solid season in the making.

Lopez was HAPPY to be out of Cincinnati. Felipe was excited to be moving to Second Base for Washington. And, Our New Manager Manny Acta had installed Our Number Two to The Number One Spot. "I am just ready to play, Man!!," he told me. "I will do whatever they ask. Just want to play ball." Honestly, he seemed ready.


FLop was set to be The Table Setter. His half season playing in The Nation's Capital after The Big Trade with The Reds--was promising. In 71 Games donning a Nationals Jersey, Flop (who originally wore Number 7 in DC--until Clubhouse Cancer Damian Jackson was released) put up decent--if unspectacular numbers. A .281 average, reaching base 100 times, scoring 43 runs and stealing 21 bases. Hitting Number 2 behind Alfonso Soriano in 2006--Lopez was the obvious choice to move to The Leadoff Spot for 2007.

And, the fact that Felipe was moving to play Second Base--FULL TIME--had to make him more relaxed. FLop has a dynamite arm, but lacks the polish to play shortstop on a regularly basis. His range, and sometimes lack of concentration tends to harm his team--when it counts the most in the field . Ability, the 2nd base bag would help hide. A fact proved over the 43 games Lopez competed at, playing the right side of infield in 2007. Just one error. ONE ERROR. FLop was a GOOD SECOND BASEMAN.

Unfortunately--when Cristian Guzman went down with his freak thumb injury for the season--Felipe was forced back to shortstop. And, he never recovered. Not only with his fielding--20 errors in 111 Games at Short--but also with countless mental lapses. Issues that combined with a SEASON LONG STRUGGLE at the plate. Just a .245 average. Time and Time Again--Felipe Lopez couldn't get on base consistently. Flop wasn't patient at the plate. He didn't draw enough walks. And, Our Number 2 struck out FAR TOO MUCH.

Frustrating to watch--is my best description of Felipe Lopez's 2007 Season. Many times, he had me just shaking my head in wonder. "What are you doing!?"--I would exclaim. My consistent "Come On FLop!!" yell, from Section 320, became a call of disappointment. Never, did Lopez seem to deliver.

A one time Happy & Content Player during Spring Training, Felipe appeared to totally lose focus as the 2007 Season played out. And, he obviously, become unhappy. Many times in 2007, you had wonder whether Lopez's head was EVEN in the game. At times, FLop didn't even run out ground balls. Each and every game as the season progressed--you had to wonder whether Felipe Lopez was going to Hurt Our Washington Nationals--more than Help.

Really, it got that bad.

When Our Washington Nationals needed a bat control artist leading off--their opponents found FLop had no control of that bat. Hanging all year long mostly around the .240 mark--Felipe had a poor season. So bad--he was basically benched over the last month of the 2007 season. And his replacement, D'Angelo Jimenez is an EVEN WORSE FIELDER. How much worse do you thing FLop felt about that punishment?


This after, more than one meeting with Our Number 14--and a Profanity Laced Conversation with The Media directly following one of those get togethers. Eventually, Both Manny and Felipe quoted as saying Lopez was having Personal Problems. But even, with all that hanging over his head-- Rumors swirled that some within Our Washington Nationals Organization were getting tired of FLop's way. Some fans, I am sure--felt the same way as well--even me. One such rumor, even suggested Felipe Lopez would be Designated For Assignment during this coming off season. Although, I could never see that happening. No Way, Our Washington Nationals are going to let him go for nothing. Despite the fact that some feel--that's all he's worth right now.

Earlier this season--I recall a commenter stating here that Felipe Lopez's childhood was very unenjoyable. Family problems have given him long lasting mental scars. Sorrow, which he stills holds close to his chest today. Sorry, I was to hear that. Never, should anyone have to go through such pain. Never do you forget growing up--SAD. A Memory Retained For Life.

Yet, despite all that. Our Number Two needs to reach back and leave it all behind. FLop, Buddy--its time to BUCKLE UP.

Felipe Lopez needs to get a hold of his One Time Promising Baseball Career Again. This One-Time National League All-Star obviously has talent. He just has never been able to put it all together--at the same time. He could be a competent, if above average Second Sacker. Poise that could only help FLop concentrate more on his skills at the plate. For a switch hitter, Lopez has a decent stroke, and the speed to make things happen on the basepath. Unfortunately, his attention span has hurt him--THE MOST. Never, do you really know, whether FLop is in the game.


So, I have wonder--whether Our General Manager Jim Bowden has lost his attention for Felipe Lopez for Our Washington Nationals, this off season. Is he being shopped? At the Major League Level--could FLop actually bring something in return? I don't know. But, even at his best--Felipe Lopez is a complimentary part. Right now, FLop is not a pedestal to build around--for the future. He's just filler. Manning a position--that Felipe Lopez could very likely be replaced at--if he doesn't get his act together over this Winter's Layoff.

"I am very happy to be in Washington, DC," FLop told me last spring. But, will Our Washington Nationals happily welcome him back on South Capitol Street in 2008? Felipe Lopez's career as A Washington Nationals may well be on the line right now. Its not unrealistic to speculate whether--Come Opening Day, 2008--will FLop be wearing The Curly "W"?

Felipe Lopez is one of the most intriguing players this off season for Our Washington Nationals.


PS--And a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to My Main Man!! Yes, October 14th is Ryan Church's Birthday. After My Best Friend!! Screech--Our Number 19--is the other Birthday, The African Queen and I recognize. Ryan's 29th Today--by the way.

18 comments:

JayB said...

Thanks for the post on this important decision.

Reds were happy to get Lopez out of town. Not sure why Jimbo did not know this but he does now.

Yes Lopez could be a nice player for a few years...... but he won't be. Cut him loose or trade him for a bag of balls but do not spend $4 million on him. Spend it on a CF and Some Starting Pitching. He is not the type of player we need in this club house.

Anonymous said...

Two reactions to this thoughtful post: (1) if Guzman is healthy (a big if), it's hard to see any world in which FLop gets much playing time (given Belliard's demonstrating that he can be an everyday secondbaseman) -- and FLop's mercurial demeanor hardly seems well suited to a utility role. In that case, it is pretty hard to see how he fits in or contributes. (2) Your post suggests that the move to SS was part of the problem w/ FLop. If Guzman doesn't come back (or does anything to remind us of his 2005 performance), is Belliard better suited to make the move to SS than FLop? He played 30 innings (not much) there last year, but seemed basically fine. Any reason not to consider that?

phil dunn said...

It was well advertised in the Cincy Gazette at the time of the 2006 trade that FLop was lazy and had a bad attitude. The Nats are a much better team with Ronnie Belliard at second base and anybody but FLop at SS. Dump him!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Belliard would never be a full time shortstop. He just doesn't have the range or arm. Only as an emergency for Ronnie. I also don't see FLop as a utility player--Doesn't have the demeanor. Belliard played a fine second base last year. He turned the double play as well as anyone in the game. I just can't imagine Ronnie not getting the opportunity to compete for the starting job in 2008. He earned that chance.

Jim H said...

As much as we may have enjoyed Ronnie on a day-to-day basis, I think we need to get to the day where he's a part of a higher quality bench. (Okay, quality period.)

It could be Lopez would be fine at second. The key will be long term at short. He shouldn't play there. But I think he's okay starting at second.

Ideally, Belliard would be coming off a veteran bench, as originally planned. At least, IMO.

Tom said...

Doesn't FLop have one more year on his contract?

An Briosca Mor said...

I believe FLop is arbitration-eligible this year, isn't he?

Screech's Best Friend said...

Tom--FLop signed a One Year $3.9 Million Contract to avoid arbitration this past January. He is elgible again, but the team could cut him loose--if they so decided.

An Briosca Mor said...

And I believe that if they don't cut him loose and instead take him to arbitration, under the rules he will have to get at least some raise, despite his subpar 2007 season, right? Still, I bet they take him to arbitration rather than cut him loose and get nothing in return for him.

Anonymous said...

"It was well advertised in the Cincy Gazette at the time of the 2006 trade that FLop was lazy and had a bad attitude." - Phil Dunn Post Above

SBF, Can you ask Bowden or Acta or Kasten (wish I had that kind of access) about his long History of bad attitudes. Did they know it, why did they think they could turn him around (assume yes they knew it) and most importantly now that they have proven they can not turn him into a good club house person (Barry at the post has written several times about this), who is accountable what will turn out to be an expensive failure in lost cash and focus in developing middle infield.

Also, can you ask the Nats about the whole injury issue the club keeps getting wrong...Alex E, Nick Johnson, Patterson, Hill, the list is very long. For example Nats tell us Alex E will be in CF by the end of the week and he never gets out of Florida. Nick will be back by June and he is 300 lbs in March. They seem to have no clue on these issues.

janet said...

If Flop was happy and relaxed in spring training, something obviously changed. To me, it seems logical to ask if it (whatever it is) can unchange, before deciding I know the complete story.

I won't say I have the answers for our middle infield - last season shows Belliard at second and Flop at SS wasn't it. I haven't looked at the list of who's available in our system, for a Rule 5 draft, as a free agent, or in trade, for shortstop or second base. But somebody has to be in the middle infield, so the question becomes what options are available. If Guz is healthy, maybe going with Plan A (Flop at second, Guz at ss and Belliard on the bench) might be worth considering.

Screech's Best Friend said...

On the continuing injury comment. I have not only asked Mr. Kasten this very question, but also Jim Bowden--more than once--as I have felt the same way how injuries first diagnosed as "Day-To-Day" end up being "Season Ending". Their consistent reply has always been--every team has a similar amount of injuries during each and every season. But, because we are watching over the team in a "Fish Bowl"--everything looks magnified. Not sure if I 100% agree with that--but that has been their consistent response--ALWAYS. Just last month--I asked this again to Mr. Kasten when we were chatting in the tunnel next to Section 320. His response had not changed.

An Briosca Mor--No, I can't see The Team cutting FLop loose, either. I was just pointing out the fact The Nationals could without losing guaranteed money in a contract.

Anonymous said...

SBF,

Thanks for asking again and again about injuries......Stan is in denial and Jimbo is letting his massive ego get in the way....THERE IS AN ISSUE in the organization. If they do not think so then the problem is bigger than Nick J's pant size or Alex E's DL listing...

BRothbart said...

I don't know how you can criticize Felipe and LOVE Church. Felipe moved from short to second, back to short then back to second, and back to short again -- all without complaint.

He has batting leadoff, which is not where he should be and probably due to his poor production.

Lopez didn't have that bad a year defensively, although he did go through a stretch of bad plays that cost some games late in the year.

I don't know where this "bad" attitude is coming from, just because he doesn't want to talk to the media. Who cares!

However, Church has warmed out his welcome and hopefully they can get rid of this guy once and for all. He's lazy, has no drive, and just won't be that great of a player. He finally got the chance to prove he can play and he didn't produce. It is time to send him on his way. So, I don't know how you can critize Lopez and not Church. Who was it in 2005, during a pennent race that couldn't play because of his hurt toe, while Wilkerson and Guillen were out there hustling. Church has the real attitude problem, no drive and no talent.

JayB said...

BRothbart said...
I don't know how you can criticize Felipe

While I am not to high on Church's hustle, I know SBF and several other knowledgeable fans and professional media have documented Lopez's lack of hustle.

Many times he just did not even care to lift his glove up and try to catch a pop up or soft line drive. He often slide 15 feet from 2nd base and before the SS even had the ball in Double Play situations. The list just goes on and on.

My season tickets are in a group of former college players. People who played the game at a very high level and they all say (as do I) Lopez does not give his all on the field. He hangs his head at the slightest bad, luck bounce or call.

FLOP is not someone I could ever support on my team and I am sure Acta feels the same way in his heart. The question is will he be man enough to tell Jimbo what he does not want to hear?

janet said...

Phil (or others) -- can you give a URL or link to the Cincy Gazette? When I looked for Cincinnati papers, I found the Cincinnati Enquirer and Post, which are Gannett papers working under a joint operating agreement. There's also the Cincinnati Business Courier and Cincinnati CityBeat, but I didn't any pointers to a Cincinnati Gazette.

There doesn't seem to be much written about Felipe Lopez (baseball player), although there was some discussion of him on a Cincinnati blog called Red Hot Mama www.red-hot-mama.com (I apologize for not formatting the link, and yes, she says it sounds pornographic, but actually is about Cincinnati baseball). There's a section called the Human League, where the blogger profiles various players. If you expand the Human League link, Felipe's profile is in the archive section.

The blogger was quite impressed with his attitude in April 2006, because she thought he had embraced his role as a number two hitter. She thought he was taking some strikes and possibly letting his numbers suffer, but his self-discipline was allowing opportunities for Freel on offense.

There was also some discussion of Felipe's tattoos in his Human League profile, with references to MLB.com and Cincinnati Post stories covering them, (although the Cincy Post link is dead at the moment). I guess he started with his daughter's name, and went on from there. That was a side of Felipe I hadn't known about.

In my digging, I found a Felipe Lopez, who was a basketball player from St. John's College. So there's some need to sift through links to make sure they lead to the right Felipe.

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I want what brothbart is smoking!

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