(Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
UPDATES FROM TURNER FIELD:
The trade is official. The Braves sent three minor-leaguers to the Cubs for Derrick Lee. The Braves traded right-handed pitchers Tyrelle Harris and Robinson Lopez and left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Lorick.
“Word now, though unofficial, is Derrek Lee will hold a press conference after the Cubs game.” — Carroll Rogers, AJC
We just got word from the AJC’s Carroll Rogers that there’s definitive talk about Derrek Lee going down. Here’s what Carroll just sent us via email after talking with Braves manager Bobby Cox about any word of a deal:
“I asked if they had a trade yet. ‘Not yet,’ Cox said. ‘They’re talking, I know that.’”
We’ll keep you updated when Carroll reports back in, folks. All this and a game tonight, too. Stay tuned! - AJC Sports
Just another dull day on the “backup” Braves beat today….While we await word on whether the Braves have finalized the deal to bring Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee to Atlanta for some lower-tier minor league prospects, I thought I’d throw up a few thoughts for discussion.
It seems from what I’ve caught on twitter so far is a lot of positive feedback among the Braves faithful for this move. Then there are some who see Lee’s .251 batting average this year and hear about the sore back and wonder if this is enough of a move.
Here are some positive things about Lee, you might not have thought about:
1) Lee is right-handed.
I think I’ve seen David Ross take more pinch-hit at-bats in the last week than I saw backup catcher Eddie Perez take in his career. (OK maybe I exaggerate a little, but you get the idea). The Braves are short on the bench in right-handers with Omar Infante playing every day at second base, and this way they could have Troy Glaus’ right-handed bat, with power potential, and rest for his knees, coming off the bench.
I’d imagine the Braves will probably DL him with the sore knees now, so they can keep Diory Hernandez as a backup infielder, then activate Glaus in September.
2) He’s a good clubhouse fit.
I don’t know Lee personally but from what you hear he’s a great clubhouse guy. Greg Maddux always spoke really highly of Lee from his years with the Cubs and pulled for him to do well long after they were teammates. David O’Brien knows Lee from years of covering him with the Marlins and says he’s as classy as you get.
So when you take clubhouse chemistry into account, and the Braves do, then he works. For a team that has prided itself this season on having a great clubhouse and for saying that chemistry translates onto the field, it’s important.
3) He’s a really good defensive first baseman.
Lee is a three-time Gold Glove first baseman, who as we’ve seen over the years, can really pick it over there. He won Gold Gloves in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He’s 6-foot-5, but graceful and quiet over there.
Glaus hasn’t been a glaring weakness over there (remember Ken Caminiti?) but between his relative inexperience after making the transition from third base and his achy knees, Lee would provide a clear improvement there, even on something like pickoff throws.
4) He’s playing better.
Since the All-Star break, Lee has .313 (30-for-96) with eight doubles, six home runs and 20 RBIs in 24 games. Before the All-Star break, he hit .233 in 85 games, with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 36 RBIs. Since the All-Star break, his on-base percentage is .356 and his slugging percentage is .583.
5) He has playoff experience.
Lee played on the Marlins World Series championship team in 2003 and made the playoffs with the Cubs in both 2007 and 2008.
A move like this also confirms what we reported a couple of days ago about how the Braves wanted another veteran in the middle of the lineup, rather than another 20-something year old. Prospect Freddie Freeman should still get a September call-up to get his feet wet, but there won’t be as much pressure on the young kid to go out there and perform in a key role.
6) As a free agent at the end of the season, the Braves don’t have to worry about getting bogged down financially at a position where they have Freeman poised to take over next year.
A couple of other things to note: Lee turns 35 on Sept. 6. Also, I’m sure this is not a deciding factor in a move like this, but this move could save the Braves up to $750,000 in bonus money if Glaus doesn’t reach 500 plate appearances. He’s at 466 plate appearances entering tonight’s game. (Glaus is owed $350,000 when he gets there and another $400,000 when he reaches 550.)
We’ve got Tim Hudson on the mound tonight against the Nationals, and that’s almost always a good thing. (And did we mention, he’s also got a pretty good winning streak going at 5-0 with a 0.49 ERA in his past five starts?) He’s 10-1 with a 1.49 ERA in 16 career starts against the Nationals. The Braves showed signs last night of doing to the last-place Nats what you would expect more often – pitch well against them, beat them, and in some cases, go on and demoralize them with an offensive outpouring.
Kris Medlen was to have his Tommy John surgery today. I’m sure it went fine, but I’ll get an update on that today at the ballpark. More as we go, folks.