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March 2012

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Rodrigo Lopez: Nonstarter

Written by , Posted in General

When the 2011 season ended, every Cubs fan had a list of players and front office types they never wanted to see anywhere near the team again.  Some lists were longer than others, but many of them–including mine–featured starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez.

Lopez was a classic Jim Hendry pickup.  The Cubs traded for him in May to help bolster an injury-ravaged starting rotation.  After working out of the bullpen for most of June, he settled into the fifth spot in the rotation, making a total of sixteen starts.  He was generally unremarkable–never so bad that he’d be dropped from the team, but never good enough to secure a long term job.  And as a thirty-six year old journeyman, he was not the answer to any of the questions facing the Cubs at the end of the season.

So why are we talking about him now?

Because the Sean Marshall trade and the apparent promotion of Jeff Samardzija have left the Cubs with few options in the bullpen.  And while Lopez never really had a shot to win a starting job, he seems suited to fill in as the Cubs’ long reliever/spot starter.

Think about it this way–I don’t necessarily want him taking the mound to start a game, but I won’t mind him taking the ball when Ryan Dempster can’t get through the second inning, or when Samardzija uses up his thirty-five pitches before the fifth.  Someone has to eat those innings, and it might as well be Lopez.  And with all the new faces we’re apparently going to see in the bullpen this season, it won’t be the worst thing to have a long-relief guy we know and (relatively) trust.

Would it be nice to have a better pitcher in that spot?  Sure, but my guess is that if Randy Wells isn’t one of our starters, he’ll be trade bait.  And no one wants to cement Travis Wood as a flameout in a thankless role when he could be getting useful experience in the minors.  So who does that leave?  That’s right–Senor Roster Vacuum Filler himself, Rodrigo Lopez.

Much like the rest of the 2012 Cubs, it could be better, it could be worse.  Who else has Opening Day Fever?

  • Doc Raker

    Thanksless job is right. When the starting pitcher craps the bed Lopez get’s to pitch which means the Cubs are losing early. I bet Rodrigo will have a little extra hop in his step every time Dempster is figured to start as in, ‘this may be the day I get some innings in’.

  • The way Mather and the fast bat boy have stepped up lately, I’m sort of thinking Bryd might be on the shopping block before the deadline…probably for another mediocre arm or two.  I’m not sure I would get too comfortable with RoLo on the roster.  He might be eating innings in Iowa.  

    • Norm Bothwell

      More Marlon Byrd trade rumors popped up this morning (WASH and ATL)

      “Thankless job” is writing about Rodrigo Lopez!

      • Agreed Norm…JJ pulled one of the shorter straws.  

      • Jeremiah Johnson

        I have to take what I can get if I’m going to keep pace with you for the Lizzies.

      • Lizzie

        Norm I was surprised you didn’t write this one. You usually get these bits of excitement, LOL.

  • Lizzie

    I kinda like Lopez, and I think it’s for exactly the reasons you mentioned, Jeremiah. No, I didn’t pump my fist and say “Yeah!! We got this one!” when he took the mound last year, but I also didn’t turn off the television in favor of an afternoon of weeding the flower beds either (like I would when some others pitched). So, in a year such as this one, I’ll take him!

    • Joe Aiello

      I’m with you Liz, I don’t mind Lopez on this team.

    • You’re killing me Lizzie…it is like the ‘a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work’ adage…

      • Doc Raker

        Unless your boat sinks and you are never seen from again, at that point work was th ebtter option that day.

  • Seymour Butts

    Flowerbeds don’t weed themselves.

  • cap’n obvious

    an inexpensive short term fix to what might turn out to be a long term problem if the farm doesn’t start producing some pitching prospects…

  • Mark Strickler

     Lopez typifies this team – you look at it up and down and go “meh”

  • BLPCB

    We’re going to be garbage in 2012 anyways. I’ll only be angry if we’ve got some guys on the farm and Svuem decides to play unproductive veterans such as him over the guys on the farm.