The Seattle Mariners are more convinced now than they were the day the season ended that Jose Lopez will be their second baseman on opening night 2010.
It's not necessarily what they had in mind.
As we've been saying here for two months, Lopez is one of the few trading chips Seattle has this winter, along with pitchers Brandon Morrow and Mark Lowe. At the GM meetings, the Mariners talks with other teams often included a mention of Lopez.
No one bit. No one showed the slightest interest in giving up anything Seattle needs for Jose Lopez.
The problem is that the reason Lopez doesn't fit in Seattle is painfully obvious to anyone who's scouted the team. While his power is a plus at the second-base position, other teams have seen his lack of range and quickness in the field - and his .303 career on-base percentage at the plate.
How bad is that OBP? Well, Yuniesky Betancourt's career OBP is .298.
What about another team moving Lopez to first or third base - something the Mariners have considered? Lopez has never played third particularly well in his few ventures over there, and as a first baseman he's less a defensive liability, but his power at that position isn't a plus.
The Mariners have seen more interest in, say, rookie outfielder Michael Saunders, who didn't homer in 122 big-league at-bats, than they have in Lopez.
Turns out, Lopez probably won't be moved, if only because there seems to be no return in it. Dumping him for another team's reject isn't going to help the Mariners offense or defense.
More than likely, he's their 2010 second baseman.
And now, some links:
- Adrian Beltre's name keeps popping up, in both leagues, but ESPN's Peter Gammons notes the Red Sox are more than a little intrigued. "Theo Epstein has long been fascinated by Beltre, a Gold Glove third baseman who is 30 but never adjusted to Safeco Field or the myriad of injuries he fought through. Beltre's on base percentage last season was an abysmal .304, and his 2007-2009 splits averaged out to a .269 batting average, .762 OPS, .318 on base and 20 homers a year ... albeit in a ballpark that is death on right-handed hitters," Gammons wrote.
- First baseman Nick Johnson, he of the .431 on-base percentage last season, has been contacted by the Mariners. Foxsports.com says the Mets, Giants and Yankees are talking to him, too. Johnson, 31, has played for five teams already in his career.
- Coco Crisp had a tough year in Kansas City, where he went down in June and never got up - finishing with a .228 batting average. The Royals bought out his $8 million contract for 2010, and now the White Sox are talking to the switch-hitting center fielder with a .277 career average.
- The Cincinnati Reds are looking to their farm system for help, and that includes seven players they had in the Arizona Fall League. What's more interesting are the thoughts of AFL manager and ex-Mariner David Bell, who saw those kids.
- The Mariners put out a fact sheet supporting Edgar Martinez and his bid for the Hall of Fame yesterday. It inspired two fine local writers - Kirby Arnold and Larry Stone - to discuss The Edgar and his chances. Take a look.
- You've heard about who the Tigers are trying to move - guys like Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson, even Miguel Cabrera. Who are they considering bringing in? The Detroit Free Press has a photo essay of 10 free agent possibilities, but be warned. One of them is outfielder Endy Chavez, and his career-threatening knee injury isn't mentioned.
- Attention Brewers fans: Milwaukee beat writer Tom Haudricourt took questions on the Top 30 Brewers prospects this week, and you can skim through that if you're in need of a fix.
- Seattle isn't the only team looking to add offense. Atlanta wants to pick up at least a couple of bats, and among the free agent candidates are former Mariner Mike Cameron - a Georgia native - and Jermaine Dye.
- Erik Bedard to the Royals? Jeff Passan drops a note in his column that Kansas City is going hard after the lefty, who probably won't pitch next season until May.