Certainly not to interrupt Marc's awesome post on prospects (which I've yet to respond to, but I will soon), but I'd like to continue our discussion on the 2006 Diagnostics for the M's. Marc started the thread with the discussion of Jose Lopez, and the perceived battle for a spot at 2B. So, I'll have to continue it by officially adding it to the list of Diagnostics...
2: Where does Jose Lopez start the season?
Count me in the camp that believes Jose Lopez has nothing left to prove in the minors. Last year, I wanted to play it a little bit safer and have him develop his defensive skills at 2B so that he could take over for Boone in 2006. That basically happened, and the torch was passed upon Boone's DFA. That's not the case this year. Still, whether or not it's intended as a motivational tool, I don't like the fact that Lopez isn't guaranteed the 2B spot. The M's have consistently shown a preference to give starting spots over to washed-up (or nearly so) veterans above prospects with potential. I'm still making up my mind as to the real ceiling of Jose Lopez, and what I expect out of him. My untrained eye actually sees him a lot like Carlos Guillen, who I actually thought was underrated, and who I really liked. Others see him as a Miguel Tejada type. I'm not sure that's entirely out of the question, either. Still, there's no argument that he's much, much better RIGHT NOW than Willie Bloomquist and Fernando Vina (his two rivals for the 2006 starting 2B spot). And, provided there aren't any health issues, if Jose Lopez starts the season in AAA, then you know the 2006 M's are starting off in the wrong direction.