While I’m not sure I have ever met someone named Felipe, and I think the only other one I’ve even heard of is Felipe Paulino of the Houston Astros, it’s now safe to say that Felipe Lopez is now my favorite Felipe of all-time. And that’s great news, because I feel like a good Felipe has been missing from my life. So let us quickly “analyze” Sunday’s trade and welcome the newest Milwaukee Brewer to the fold.
What The Crew Gets
Felipe Lopez: The growing trend around the league is versatility. Mark DeRosa, the freshly minted Cardinal, wouldn’t have been as big of a trade chip a few years ago, but everyone was all over the guy because he could play a T-Pain sized boatload of positions. Lopez is primarily a second baseman, but he can also play shortstop and third base, so he has some extra value there. He’s young – only 29 years old, so if the Brewers can sign him long-term once his contract runs out at the end of this year, he can be around for awhile. These July veterans-for-prospects deals are good, but they only become great if you get to keep the veteran for more than two months (see: Sabathia, CC). Lopez is probably going to hit leadoff and do it well. He’s currently second in the National League in top-spot OBP at .372, and getting runners on in front of Prince and Braun is a desperate need for this team. He can switch hit, so he removes the need for a second base platoon and gives Macha a more set rotation in the field. With Lopez manning the two-bag, Counsell can get most of the time at third while Casey McGehee recovers from his bothersome knee and Bill Hall can keep picking splinters out of his .199-hitting ass. Also, if Hardy ever needs a day off, there are more pieces to move around that won’t leave Counsell as the only fill-in. Lastly, Lopez will be a Class B free agent if he leaves at the end of the year, so the Brewers can get a compensatory draft pick for his services and maybe Slick Rickie Weeks will be healthy again in 2010 to reassume the second base position.
More AAA Time for Gamel: Thanks to the aforementioned versatility of Lopez, there isn’t much playing time in the offing for Mat Gamel. The Brewers sent him back to AAA after the trade went through, and in my opinion, that is bad news for nobody. Gamel was hitting .239, and definitely looked a little lost at the plate. For someone his age, that is to be expected and not a sign of a flop prospect at all. He’ll go back to Nashville, start playing every day, improve his defense and hopefully start raking at the dish again. I still want Gamel to be an “untouchable” in trades and I still want him to be the third baseman of the future – but maybe of 2010, not the rest of ’09.
What The Crew Gives Up
Cole Gillespie: In 2009, the AAA outfielder was hitting .258 with 36 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 87 games. He does have 30 extra-base hits and plays solid defense in centerfield, but I’m not positive he was developing at the rate the Brewers big-wigs wanted after they drafted him in 2006. He’s just 25 years old and could still become a solid player, but he’s no Matt LaPorta (now with Cleveland after the CC deal last July).
Roque Mercedes: Outside of having a badass name, we don’t know much about Mercedes. He’s still just 22 years old but he’s in his fourth year of pro ball. He was pitching very well in advanced A ball this year with a 1.08 ERA in 41.2 innings, a K/BB ratio of 3 and a K/9 IP rate of almost 10. But it will be a few years before he sniffs the big leagues, so Melvin isn’t missing a ton by trading him away.
Rumors were a-flyin’ that the Brewers wanted starting pitcher Doug Davis in this deal as well, but it didn’t happen. As I’ve said before, we already have enough back-of-the-rotation guys and shouldn’t give up prospects to get another one. Milwaukee still needs another pitcher, but not at a heavy price. The July trade market is rarely good for contenders in the long term, and the Brewers were able to get a serviceable player to fill a need and didn’t sell the farm. I consider it a job well done. Of course, if Lopez somehow flames out or Gillespie and Mercedes become studs, I’ll be glad nobody remembers this and I’ll bitch for days about it. Just so you know.