Mariners Analysis

Thursday, March 24, 2005

M's plans for Lopez

So pretend you are Bavasi for a minute (you are a foot taller and have no hair) and you need to make decisions with your new manager on the M's roster. One of the hardest decisions right now is what to do with Jose Lopez.

Before Spring Training, the common wisdom was play Reese at SS and send Lopez down to AAA for a year of experience. However, a couple of things have changed the M's thinking-
* Pokey Reese has reminded everyone just what they are getting with that outstanding glove. A light bat that is injury prone and a little flakey. The M's have to really ask themselves if the current offense can carry a .215 SS (something like that) all year. Pokey could very well have a Cirillo-like year at the plate.
* Lopez looks better in Spring Training than expected.

M's fans have been wondering all year what the M's brass plan to do when Reese gets hurt. Given his injury history, it's not a matter of if, but when. Also, if you pinch-hit for Reese in a close game, who replaces him in the field? Spiezio? Willie?

The M's have a bit of a flawed everyday lineup problem with Reese. If you play Reese every day, you have to live with his light bat. In a head-to-head battle, Hargrove just might prefer less defense with Lopez to at least a possible upside in power. Obviously there is no upside with Reese at the plate- no power and light average is a given.

The one think Bavasi cannot do is bring Lopez up with the club and have him sit around on the bench and wait for Reese to get hurt. Everyone agrees Lopez does no good on the bench.

The logical thing then is to put Reese on the bench. With Boone struggling at 2b, finding playing time for all of them shouldn't be a problem. BUT, Hargrove likes to stick to a set-lineup. In the past he hasn't shown the kind of skilled roster management that keeps your bench involved and gives guys days off.

Something has to give. Either Hargrove needs to play his bench more often, or Lopez needs to start in AAA.

You can rest assured Bavasi and Hargrove are having this discussion right now.

If it were up to me, I would have never put myself in this position as GM. I have no idea what they will decide. Let's hope as fans things work out.