Felipe Lopez was released by the Cardinals Tuesday after he was late to Monday’s game against Florida. General manager John Mozeliak said this was not the first time Lopez was late and at this point in the season, the team wasn’t going to deal with it.
It’s a fitting considering the Cards luck this season. Lopez represents everything that was wrong with this Cardinals club.
When St. Louis signed Lopez, the team was excited. They saw him is the final piece of a championship contender. He gave them versatility and depth off the bench and the Cardinals looked stronger than ever. St. Louis got off to a solid start but never broke through. The Cardinals played tug-of-war with the Reds all summer until it all fell apart. St. Louis floundered in August as Cincinnati took off and the division has been out of reach all September. Lopez started strong — swatting a game-winning grand slam in April and hitting .284 through July 7 — but his production tailed off as the Cardinals began their free fall.
So did his attitude.
Lopez has had trouble showing up on time all season. In any commitment, showing up on time is the ultimate sign of respect and dedication. It’s simple and easy, but it’s amazing how many people fail to be on time. In a job, it’s expected. And failing to do so is disrespectful to the organization, the manager, and the team as a whole. Baseball players should have no problems being on time during the season. The team travels together and when you’re at home, you’re at home. Players should be early to the ball park anyway. The best in the game are the first to the park getting ready for that day’s game. There is no excuse for Lopez in this situation.
The Cardinals had to cut him loose. The team is building the foundation for next year right now. It needs to be done the right way if the culture is going to change. The Cards had a dead feeling to them all year. The team needs more energy and dedication if it wants to retake the division. Lopez was setting a bad example for the young players and overall just disrespecting his teammates. It’s not good for any team and now he’ll have to carry that with him the rest of his career.
He got plenty of chances to make an impact this year, but he never broke out. After hitting .300 the past few seasons, Lopez finished the year batting .231 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs. He played in 109 games and started 89 times, mainly at third base after David Freese went out due to injury. He was less than stellar defensively on top of his troubles at the plate. Lopez saw his playing time dwindle after the team traded for Pedro Feliz, which says a lot considering Feliz is only mediocre at best. He has been an All-Star shortstop earlier in his career, so one would have to think Lopez’s work ethic is a big part of his failure. Work ethic starts with being on time and ready to play. He wasn’t up to the challenge every day.
Lopez turned out to be a mystery in a season riddled with questions rather than the answer to the Cards postseason prayers.