Q. Cool Papa Bell asked whether you thought that Stefen Romero would become "the next Jose Lopez?"
A. Having studied Romero's swing for a half hour, that turns out to be an uncanny suggestion. Either Cool Papa was sandbagging us, or he got REALLLLLY lucky :- ) or his intuition paid off in silver dollars.
Jose Lopez was (1) a big, strong second baseman / third baseman with (2) an uncommonly fast bat who (3) had a world-class gliding problem. Jose was, ah, "mobile" in the batter's box, as Romero tends to be right now.
Jose's knees were flexed, he was on the balls of his feet, and he essentially swung the bat as though he were fielding grounders at second base.
The denouement was that as pitchers stretched the strike zone, back to front, Jose topped a bunch of pitches. He never really stopped lunging at the ball, chasing it all over the place with his head, and .... you tell me. Did Jose Lopez ever manifest the power that he should have? Or did he hit a lot of grounders to 3B and SS?
Jose Lopez crushed the minor leagues. And at a very young age. He mulched minor-league pitchers that he'd never seen before, as Romero is also doing. For all these reasons, Jose Lopez is a spectacular idea here.
Q. Is that bad, to be a Jose Lopez comp?
A. Give me a 25-man roster full of 22-year-old Jose Lopezes, and I'll return you ten Hall of Famers down the road.
Look, Jose Lopez was a cleanup hitter in AAA at the age of 20. He was an American League All-Star at the age of 22. I don't get Seattle fans on this. You tell them that Casper Wells has a shot to be a young Richie Sexson and they go, OH NOOOOoooooo!, forgetting that Sexson averaged 36 homers and 116 RBI per season.
Q. ::shrug:: Anyway, is Lopez to be the ceiling for Romero?
A. There are tons of differences between the two.
Romero is a wrist swinger; Lopez had an arm swing.
Romero's career is not in the past tense; maybe he'll learn to stop gliding. That's on the M's coaching staff.
Jose Lopez had genuinely questionable makeup; for Romero makeup is a giant plus, according to Pedro Grifol.
Jose Lopez was quick enough to play the infield, and a real good athlete, but he moved in a completely different way than does Romero.
Romero went to college. ... etc etc etc. Lopez is an interesting comp in the sense that he was a big 2B with a fast bat who hit -- and who hit unfamiliar pitchers -- by sheer quickness and alertness. He moved around in the box. That doesn't make him the prototype.
Q. Who would you set as an MLB prototype.
A. Get back to you on that...