Giants close to re-signing Javier Lopez to multi-year deal

According to several sources, the Giants are close to re-signing left-handed specialist Javier Lopez. This was the obvious move of the offseason. Not obvious because the Giants would have been completely adrift without Lopez and his 40 innings every year, but obvious in that the Giants sure love their left-handed specialists, and this one seemed comfortable here. It would have been an upset if this didn't happen.

Let's explore the question of whether or not Lopez will be worth the money, the details of which we don't know yet. But the answer is no. No, he will not be worth the money. Even if he accepted a pay cut -- two years, $6 million -- he still probably wouldn't be worth the money. Left-handed specialists just don't throw enough innings to be worth that much.

However, I don't think it's a controversial opinion that the 2010 Giants probably don't win the World Series if not for Lopez's contributions. The division was so, so close, and Lopez was worth almost a full win according to WPA, as well as almost 10 runs according to RE/24. That's before getting into his stellar postseason work in 2010 and 2012. Having the wrong pitcher at the wrong time can be death to playoff chances. Lopez was always a positive contributor.

It's hard to reconcile those two viewpoints. The saber-orthodoxy is that LOOGYs are interchangeable, fungible luxuries that should never be overpaid. Spoiled people like us, though, know the anecdotal value of the right LOOGY at the right time. Boy, they sure make you feel better about baseball and baseball games, alright. I've never spent a lot of time worrying about Lopez and his salary. He does his job, and he does it better than almost anyone else in baseball. How can he not be worth the money again?

Really, it might not be the soundest strategy for a team on a budget, but I'm not going to pretend Lopez is the difference between Shin-Soo Choo and Gregor Blanco. Lopez, Santiago Casilla, and Jeremy Affeldt combined might be the difference between Choo and Blanco, but I'm not going to get angry about a multi-year Lopez deal because of the organizational priorities that aren't going to change until someone else is in charge. If it isn't Lopez, it would have been someone else. The Sabean era has been quite clear about that priority.

And sometimes that leads to Wayne Franklin. So I'm not going to look a gift Lopez in the slider. As long as the Giants are fixated on cost certainty for relievers, at least Lopez is one of the better left-handed specialists in baseball.

Split PA H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs left-handed batters (career) 954 179 36 6 9 91 203 .212 .295 .301 .596

Yeah, that's handy. Or, to put it another way ...

I'm pretty impressed the Giants actually kept Lopez, Hunter Pence, and Tim Lincecum. It sure cost a lot of money, and I'm not entirely convinced it was the right thing to do, but they said they were going to at the trade deadline, so they should get bonus points for not lying. They really wanted all of those guys back. Huh.

Welcome back, Javier, you magnificent, funky-tossin' man. It wouldn't have been the same bullpen without you, and I wouldn't have wanted to see you on another team. The Giants really didn't. Can't say I blame them. It's an easy comfort to get used to.

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