Monday, February 27, 2006

Diagnostics, #2

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.


At 2/27/2006 8:27 PM, Blogger marc w. said...

Thanks Paul!
I'd meant to come back and do this one, but you took care of it.
This is probably the biggest, and arguably most important, diagnostic of the year. If Bloomquist wins the job (I'm not going to consider Vina), then the team is clearly going down the wrong track - rewarding the heat of hustle and 'grit' and discounting the light of talent and, y'know, contribution.

At 2/28/2006 12:30 PM, Blogger Mike L said...

If Lopez isn't starting at 2nd come Opening Day, we've got problems.

At 2/28/2006 12:52 PM, Blogger PositivePaul said...

If, after having experienced parts of 2 seasons of Major League Baseball, he still doesn't play well enough to unseat Will.Blo or ViƱa, well, that's not saying too much for him in that case.

Hargrove, though, as Melvin did, seems to have an inexplicable hard-on for Bloomquist.

Actually, and you're alluding to this a bit, the real litmus test for me is if Lopez plays well enough to make the race (whether perceived or real) close, will the M's give Lopez the benefit of the doubt enough to give him the starting 2B job.

Think of it in terms of the Super Bowl (which, CK, I know you can relate to) -- the Seahawks actually played better overall than the Steelers, but because of (to be nice) circumstances beyond their control, they ultimately lost the game. Certainly they could've played better and battled through the monstrous adversity into a clear victory.

Similarly -- Lopez certainly could help his causes greatly by having a dominating Spring Training. But if it's less-than-dominating, making the battle less clear (in Hargrove's Bloomquist-loving and veteran-loving mind), the true test will be whether the M's (be it Hargrove or Bavasi) still hand the job over to Lopez.

This is tied to Diagnostic #1, too, in that there's still a chance that George will have a bad outing -- bad enough to plant a seed of doubt in Hargrove/Bavasi -- and this will make any battle for the 2nd lefty out of the 'pen that much more difficult.

It's not a sure-fire thing, folks, that George will start the season in Seattle. I believe he'll pitch well enough to make the team, and have confidence this won't be an issue. But we saw last year, when the battle between George and Thornton was a little tighter than it probably could've been, that the M's took the safe route by stashing George in Tacoma. Since George has options, and Matt doesn't (and Luis E. Gonzalez is a Rule 5 guy that has to stay on the 25-man roster, or be sent back to the Dodgers), there's no guarantee that in spite of being the best lefty reliever they have, he will start the season in Seattle.

Gee, it looks like we're really going to have to continue this Diagnostics discussion!

At 3/01/2006 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never really hope for anyone to get injured, but given that Vina is struggling with a hip flexor, I am hopeful that this adds one more reason to put Lopez into the role.

I think Hargrove realizes Willie is more useful on the bench and has alluded to this in recent interviews, so I am not quite as worried about WB starting as I once was.


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