The Chicago Cubs have finally found a taker for Derrek Lee.
Earlier in the year, reports surfaced that the Cubs have come to an agreement with the Los Angeles Angels to send the all-star to the west coast, but the first baseman had declined the trade. This time, the Cubs have agreed to send Lee to the Atlanta Braves and Lee approved, becoming fourth Cub to be traded in the past month. Lefty Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot were sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the deadline and Mike Fontenot to the San Francisco shortly after.
In return, the Cubs get three minor league pitchers and absolve themselves of the remaining $3 million on Lee’s contract.
Since his breakout season in 2005 when he hit .335 with 50 doubles and 46 homeruns, Lee has been overrated by Cubs fans everywhere. People point to his gold glove in 2007 as evidence of his great defense and his .306 average in 2009 to show that Lee is still the same player. However, anyone that has watched Lee play will understand that he’s merely a shell of the player he used to be.
Since suffering the wrist injury that limited him to just 50 games in 2006, Lee’s bat speed and plate discipline haven’t been the same. He’s no longer able to hit the inside fastball and apparently no longer willing to use the opposite field. This horrible combination has led to a ton of unproductive at-bats, including a whopping 81 double plays since the career year. Unlike the Cubs’ refusal to cut ties with the aging Sammy Sosa until things were much too late, the team was only a little late to part ways with Lee.
As of now, there is no clear cut replacement for Lee in 2011. Some have suggested moving Tyler Colvin to first base to free the logjam in the outfield and allow Kosuke Fukudome more playing time and that remains a possibility. However, I think it’s a little too soon to start speculating about next season. There’s still 41 games remaining on the schedule this year and then an entire off-season for Jim Hendry and the rest of the front office to mold the team for 2011.
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Written by Eddie Kim