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1/27/08 Federal Baseball's Washington Nationals '08 Preview. The Pure Speculation Edition. Vol. 2...

    With little time before two parties head for arbitration, Washington Nationals' shortstop Felipe Lopez is said, according to mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Rauch, Lopez not far apart from Nats", at washington.nationals.mlb.com, to have asked for $5.1 million for one season, while the Nationals have offered Lopez $4.9 million for the same one-year deal.

     Cristian Guzman, who is penciled in at short, according to various reports, (at least headed into Spring Training), is set to make $4.2 million in the last year of the four-year contract Guzman signed with DC in '05.

     The two shortstops will be playing for new contracts either in DC or elsewhere for next season. Lopez played parts of four seasons with Toronto and Cincinnati, backing up Barry Larkin, (currently in the Nationals' front office), before taking over at short for the Reds in 2005, and hitting .291, with 34 doubles, 5 triples, 23 HR's and 85 RBI's at the age of twenty-five.

     85 games into Lopez's '06 season, with the shortstop batting .268, with 14 doubles, 1 triple, 9 HR's and 30 RBI's, the Reds included Lopez in a trade to DC, along with Austin Kearns and Ryan Wagner, after which Lopez hit .281 in 71 games, with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 2 HR's and 22 RBI's as a National.

     Cristian Guzman appeared in 142 games in 2005 for Washington in his first season playing for anyone other than Minnesota, and the results, 19 doubles, 6 triples, 4 HR's, 31 RBI's and a .219 AVG over 142 games were not what the Nationals had expected.

     After Guzman missed all of the '06 season with a shoulder injury and the Nationals made due for a while with Royce Clayton, acquiring Felipe Lopez, even with the oft-injured Guzman still under contract, must have been too attractive an option for the Nationals to pass up.

      When Cristian Guzman was injured on Opening Day again in June of '07, with Guzman having started the season at short and Lopez at second, Ronnie Belliard stepped up and played so well that he's bumped both Guzman and Lopez over into a battle at short heading into '08.  

     If Guzman hadn't hit so well when he was in the lineup, .328, with 6 doubles, 6 triples, 2 HR's and 14 RBI's in 46 games, and Lopez hadn't struggled throughout the '07 season, posting a .245 AVG, with 25 doubles, 6 triples, 9 HR's and 50 RBI's in 154 games, it would seem a sure bet that the Nationals would be locking up Lopez long-term right now, and allowing the two to share time in Guzman's last year under contract. But...

     With Guzman turning 30 at the start of this season, Lopez now 27, and set to turn 28 in May, the two shortstops will most likely be splitting time this season and playing for another one-year deal the following season for one of the two, after which Guzman, Lopez and Belliard will probably be moving on or heading to the bench to make room for prospects like Ian Desmond, who Baseball America places in the Projected 2011 Nationals' lineup, second base prospect Stephen King, or Esmailyn Gonzalez, the shortstop signed out of the Dominican Republic in '06. At which point a whole new battle for the infield can begin...

*DC Shortstop Battle Links*

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Rauch, Lopez not far apart from Nats" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080118&content_id=2350874&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Cot's Baseball Contracts:

http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2005_01_01_mlbcontracts_archive.html

Felipe Lopez's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/l/lopezfe01.shtml

Cristian Guzman's career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/g/guzmacr01.shtml

Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's 1/12/07 review of the, "Washington Nationals: Top 10 Prospects", at baseballamerica.com:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/263086.html

Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's 12/7/07 review of the,
"Washington Nationals: Top 10 Prospects", at baseballamerica.com:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/265146.html