We’ve spent a lot of time this winter talking about how Johnny Damon took a backseat to Matt Holliday getting his cash with agent Scott Boras. On second thought, at least Damon has been in the car. Free agent infielder Felipe Lopez has been left on the side of the road with his thumb in the air.
Frustrated that he is without a team just days before pitchers and catchers report, Lopez has fired Boras, signing on with Beverly Hills Sports Council, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. It’s hard to argue with Lopez here, who surely thought he had a nice payday coming after the best season of his career. Lopez, who turns 30 in May, batted .310/.383/.427 with nine home runs and 57 RBI with the Diamondbacks and Brewers last season. As I compiled in November, Lopez ranked fourth among impending free agents in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in 2009.
A former first-round pick of the Blue Jays in 1998, Lopez has never really matched the considerable hype attached to him early on, but even if he won’t be paid like a four or five win player at this point, he’s exactly the kind of infielder a team just be investing in. He’s still young and can play a variety of positions without embarrassing himself. Yet we’ve largely seen teams opt for short commitments with veteran infielders.
Placido Polanco – three years, $18 million (Phillies)
Marco Scutaro – two years, $12.5 million (Red Sox)
Orlando Hudson – one year, $5 million (Twins)
Jamey Carroll – two years, $3.85 million (Dodgers)
Juan Uribe – one year, $3.25 million (Giants)
Orlando Cabrera – one year, $3.02 million (Reds)
Alex Gonzalez – one year, $2.75 million (Blue Jays)
Kelly Johnson – one year, $2.35 million (Diamondbacks)
Craig Counsell – one year, $2.1 million (Brewers)
Adam Everett – one year, $1.55 million (Tigers)
Adam Kennedy – one year, $1.25 million (Nationals)
According to Stark, the Cardinals are the only known club to have interest in Lopez. It makes even more sense as a match after Brendan Ryan’s recent wrist surgery, but Lopez may have a few more suitors now that Boras is out of the way.
Here are the Cubs and Cardinals lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS in St. Louis:
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
SS Addison Russell
C David Ross
SP Jon Lester
Jon Lester’s personal catcher David Ross takes the place of Miguel Montero behind the plate. Kris Bryant shifts back to third base after playing left field in Game 1, with Chris Coghlan coming off the bench to get a start in the outfield against a right-hander. Addison Russell bats seventh, which he did just 10 times during the regular season.
3B Matt Carpenter
1B Stephen Piscotty
LF Matt Holliday
CF Jason Heyward
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Randal Grichuk
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
SP John Lackey
Mike Matheny’s lineup for Game 1 is an interesting one. Jason Heyward is batting cleanup and playing center field, where he started just eight games all season. Stephen Piscotty plays first base, where he started just nine games. Yadier Molina is behind the plate, toughing his way through a significant thumb injury that’s sidelined him since September 20 and leaves him at much less than 100 percent now. Brandon Moss, Mark Reynolds, and Jon Jay are all on the bench.
Rookie left-hander Steven Matz hasn’t pitched since September 24 because of a back injury, but he’s on the Mets’ playoff roster for the NLDS and looks likely to start Game 4 against the Dodgers.
Matz prepped for a potential start by throwing 80 pitches in a simulated game Thursday and apparently experienced no issues. Even setting aside the health question mark Matz has started just six games in the majors, but he’s 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 34/10 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings.
Matz is one of 11 pitchers on the NLDS roster, along with 14 position players. No big surprises.
Here are the Astros and Royals lineups for Game 2 of the ALDS in Kansas City:
2B Jose Altuve
RF George Springer
SS Carlos Correa
LF Colby Rasmus
DH Evan Gattis
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Chris Carter
C Jason Castro
CF Jake Marisnick
SP Scott Kazmir
Carlos Gomez remains out of the lineup with an intercostal injury, so Marisnick makes another start in center field after going 2-for-4 with standout defense in Game 1.
SS Alcides Escobar
2B Ben Zobrist
CF Lorenzo Cain
1B Eric Hosmer
DH Kendrys Morales
3B Mike Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
LF Alex Gordon
RF Alex Rios
SP Johnny Cueto
Royals manager Ned Yost sticks with the same lineup as Game 1, which isn’t surprising given that he trotted out the same lineup for basically the entire postseason run last year. Cueto gets the ball after Yost chose Yordano Ventura for Game 1 duties.