It’s finals week, so this will be brief.
Lopez was traded to Colorado for pitcher Chaz Roe. Roe’s stat line is mediocre at best, and his first season at the AAA level came last year at age 24. As USSMariner blogger Dave Cameron put it, he represents minor league depth at this point. So I have to believe this move means two things: Figgins is moving back to third, and Dustin Ackley (who’s tearing up the Arizone Fall League) will start the season at second.
Despite his best UZR figure EVER last season, Lopez was bad enough offensively to rank as a “replacement player.” Another term for replacement player is “any 2010 Mariner position player not named Ichiro or Gutierrez.” A team full of replacement level players should win around 45 games, and that’s about what the Mariners would have won without 1/2 of Cliff Lee, Felix, Ichiro and Guti. In short, Lopez sucked last year, and his career line doesn’t suggest that he’s worth keeping around with Ackley ready to go.
Lopez’s career OBP is .297, a good batting average, but terrible rate for getting on base. His only saving grace is his power, and I think 2009 (25HR, 17 AWAY) was probably a fluke. Safeco Field suppresses power for righties, especially those like Lopez who can’t hit to the opposite field AT ALL.
Ackley is hitting a video-game-like .424 avg/.581 obp/.728 slg in the AFL in just under 100 plate appearances. Each of those numbers is currently good for best in the league. In 2010, he jumped straight to the AA DiamondJaxx out of college and finished the season with AAA Tacoma. He hit .267/.368/.407 there as a 22-year-old. Respectable numbers for the upper minor leagues in a player’s first full season.
Additionally, Figgy gets to move back to third, his more comfortable position, and a position that he plays well above average according to UZR.
Lopez simply isn’t built for Safeco, and he’s not great to begin with. But if given a chance in Colorado, he could explode with his skill set. As mentioned, Safeco suppresses homeruns to righties by 16%, while Coors field will give Lopez a 17% edge in the ding dong department. This seems like a good move for the Mariners, and a good move for Jose Lopez.