Cardinals Abruptly Release Felipe Lopez
Well, except for Felipe Lopez. The Cardinals announced shortly before Tuesday's game that they had released the veteran infielder, hours after manager Tony La Russa told reporters Lopez had been sent home from Pittsburgh and wouldn't be playing again this season.
This is a highly unusual move at this stage of the season (or any stage, pretty much), so there's certainly much more to the story than the non-explanation offered up by La Russa. Namely, that the Cardinals are going to give more time to their younger players in the season's final two weeks.
General manager John Mozeliak later confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that one of the reasons for the move was Lopez being late for Monday's game against the Marlins.
Lopez, a former All-Star, hasn't contributed much to the Cardinals after signing with them as a free agent last winter. Playing mostly third base with David Freese battling injuries, he hit .231 with a .651 OPS in 109 games.
The 30-year-old has played for six different teams in a 10-year major league career. Since 2008 alone, he has played for the Nationals, Diamondbacks and Brewers along with two separate stints in St. Louis. Still, he remained largely an everyday player from 2005 -- when he was the Reds' lone All-Star selection -- through 2009 before serving as a utility player this year.
Theoretically, a playoff contender in need of infield help -- like the Padres, who just lost Jerry Hairston Jr. for the season -- could pick up Lopez for the final run even though he'd be ineligible for the playoffs. But you can bet they'd do their due diligence with the Cardinals given the unusual circumstances of his departure. And the same will be true of any potential employer for 2011.