Derrek Lee to the Braves

According to multiple sources, the Braves are very close to acquiring Derrek Lee from the Chicago Cubs for a handful of prospects. For the Braves, who made a few deals at the deadline that netted them Rick Ankiel and Alex Gonzalez, this could be a move that makes them a serious threat in the playoffs.

In an article just eight days ago I detailed Derrek Lee‘s poor season, ultimately concluding:

While it may be obvious to notice a lack of fly balls by Lee this year, which seems to be dangerous for a first baseman playing at Wrigley, the loss has been mitigated by an increase in line drives and a decrease in infield flies. Take those into account and Lee is actually doing better than he was last year in that regard. His HR/FB rate has been a huge problem, which is a career low for Lee. If we use the wisdom behind xFIP on Lee and adjust his HR/FB rate to his career average (16.4%), then he’d be at ~19.7 homers this year rather than just the twelve at which he currently sits. But we know that for hitters, unlike (generally) pitchers, HR/FB is not just a matter of luck but is deeply rooted in skill….Lee is “underperforming” on his BABIP on each batted ball type with the worst offender being line drives. Sure, it’s nice that Lee is hitting more of them, but if they’re not going for hits, and especially extra bases, then it’s not as important.

Lee’s HR/FB rate has jumped up to 12.9% in that time, with his wOBA up to a more respectable .330. It seems as though Lee is beginning to snap out of his season-long funk, and if the Braves can strike while the iron is hot, they’ll certainly be happy.

In terms of the logistics of bringing Lee aboard, the Braves have some maneuvering to do. It seems as though the odd man out will be Troy Glaus, who has looked brutal since the All-Star break. Glaus, who was killing the ball in May and June, is now down to a line of just .239/.343/.406, very poor numbers for a first baseman with below average defense. ZiPS does think he’s good for a .342 wOBA for the rest of the season, but the bat isn’t good enough, nor the defense strong enough, to warrant a spot at third base in the absence of Chipper Jones, who is out for the season. It seems as though the Braves lineup the rest of the way will look like this:

2B Omar Infante/ 3B Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
1B Derrek Lee
C Brian McCann
3B Martin Prado/ 2B Omar Infante
CF Rick Ankiel
SS Alex Gonzalez
LF Melky Cabrera/ Matt Diaz/ Eric Hinske

The Braves also have Nate McLouth coming back from his injury, but he just hasn’t shown he’s ready to be play very competitively just yet. Brooks Conrad should also see some time playing around the diamond, although his defensive gaffes at third base the other night may force Bobby Cox to use him primarily as a pinch-hitter.

Without knowing exactly what’s going back to Chicago just yet, this seems to be a solid trade for the Braves. With Lee’s contract up at the end of the year they can use Lee not only to stopgap for Freddie Freeman in 2011, but also seriously compete for a World Series title.



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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat


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M.S.
Guest
M.S.
5 years 9 months ago

Where’s Eric Hinske in that lineup?
He’s been Diaz’s platoon partner for a while now and filled in a little at first.

hairball
Guest
hairball
5 years 9 months ago

As is being discussed over at McCovey Chronicles, this makes Sabean look pretty stupid, both for not blocking, and for getting Guillen when there was a better option available. I think Sabean was actually doing alright until recently, but he appears to be flubbing pretty badly now that the Giants are actually contending.

Gary
Guest
Gary
5 years 9 months ago

I hear paying prospects and then paying a 1b who has only produced 1.1 WAR this season is a good move. His ISO is down over .100 from last year’s resurgence. His k% is up, walk % is down.
ZIPS thinks he’s good for a .365 wOBA. I certainly don’t. Derek Lee will not win the Braves the WS.

Alex Remington
Member
5 years 9 months ago

Lee won’t win the Braves the World Series, but a 4-man rotation of Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, and Mike Minor could get them a fair ways.

Gary
Guest
Gary
5 years 9 months ago

I’d take the Cardinal’s rotation, Phillies’s rotation, Padres’s rotation, SF’s rotation, all over the rotation you just listed. Huzzah!

Bruce
Guest
Bruce
5 years 9 months ago

Poor Derek Lowe.

Alex Remington
Member
5 years 9 months ago

It is likely that at least two of those teams will miss the playoffs. Also, I understand why you’d pick the Giants, Cardinals, and Phillies — all three certainly have more name power, particularly at the top of the rotation — but I don’t agree with you on the Padres: other than Latos, I prefer the Braves’ top pitchers to LeBlanc, Garland, and Richard.

Gary
Guest
Gary
5 years 9 months ago

Well, not just name power. (xFIPs)
Halladay (2.82), Hamels (3.52) , Oswalt (3.51)
Wainwright (3.18) , Carpenter (3.75) , Garcia (3.81)
Lincecum (3.38) , Cain (4.40!), Sanchez (4.26!)
Latos (3.45), Richard (4.02), Correia (4.16)
Hudson (4.02), Hanson (4.01), Jurrjens (4.41), Minor (4.24)

Just sayin’.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
5 years 9 months ago

Look, I was not on the Tim Hudson bandwagon earlier in this season. But whether you want to call it magic, extreme groundball tendencies, or excellent defense (snort), his xFIP is horseshit. This season, for whatever reason, he can go toe-to-toe with any of the guys on your list.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
5 years 9 months ago

Also: it’s a bit dumb to say any of Minor’s rate stats, including advanced ones, have stabilized in 12 innings of major league work. I don’t think he’s amazing, but his infinitesimal-sample-size xFIP is no way to show that.

Gary
Guest
Gary
5 years 9 months ago

Fine. I’d rate Tim Hudson as a 3.2 ERA pitcher and Mike Minor as a 4.5 ERA pitcher as of this year. Comparing Hudson to Halladay, Lincecum, Latos, Wainwright? He’s not even close to that league.
Yes, I can see Minor has a bright future. No, I don’t see great things for him this year

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
5 years 9 months ago

Hudson surely doesn’t have the stuff or peripherals of a Halladay or a Waingwright. But this season, he’s got their results. And after holding my breath for a regression for months, I am now inclined to think that this is simply a charmed season for Hudson, for whatever reason.

Temo
Member
Temo
5 years 9 months ago

@Alex– Lowe will be the 4th man in the playoff rotation, not Minor

@Gary– Why use xFIP and not FIP?

Braves starters are currently 4th in the NL in FIP, ahead of the Giants Padres and Phillies. They are ahead of the Padres and Giants in xFIP. (They are ahead of the Giants, Phillies, and Giants in reliever FIP and xFIP, by the way).

Also, here’s ZIPs rest-of-year FIP for top 4 starters:

Halladay (2.72), Hamels (3.56) , Oswalt (3.40), Kendrick (4.94)
Wainwright (2.95) , Carpenter (3.71) , Garcia (3.74), Lohse (4.32)
Lincecum (2.82) , Cain (3.68), Sanchez (4.02), Zito (4.15)
Latos (3.60), Richard (3.96), Correia (4.07), Garland(4.40)
Hanson (3.23), Jurrjens (3.41), Lowe(3.75), Hudson (3.90)

It looks like the Braves have a legit argument for the best 4-man staff according to ZIPs, though the Phillies and Cardinals can make better 3 man staffs.

Alex Remington
Member
5 years 9 months ago

I don’t see great things for Minor this year. But I think he’s easily the peer, and I’d argue he’s better than, guys like Correia and Kendrick.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 9 months ago

@ Alex – I don’t disagree that more would be expected of Minor than Lowe going forward. But I don’t think there’s any way the braves would put Minor over Lowe in a 4-man playoff rotation (unfortunately for them). Damn that whole “veteran presence” nonsense (and nonsensical contract).

Sophist
Guest
Sophist
5 years 9 months ago

Would be a solid move for them, but in this HR/FB discussion may want to note his career numbers at Turner Field, which is not the park Wrigley is. .237/.338/.388 in 269 PA (and he’s .252/.348/.467 lifetime against the Braves, so he crushes their pitching outside of their park). 8 HR in 66 games.

Noah
Guest
Noah
5 years 9 months ago

The vast majority of those PAs would have been in 2003 and before when he was in the same division as the Braves and playing in their park nearly 10 games a year. If you presume that over the six seasons (one of which he missed half the year from injury) he played even 8 games a year in Atlanta and averaged just 4 PAs in each of those games, that’s 176 of 269 (65.4%) of his plate appearances that occurred prior to 2004 and prior to Lee turning 28. Odds are it’s more like 200 of his PAs against the Braves came when he was a Marlin.

Sophist
Guest
Sophist
5 years 9 months ago

About 100 PA since leaving the Marlins (144 from 2003-2010).

20-82, 3 HR, 4 2B (.244 BA, .402 SLG).

Ton of walks, though, about 21 including IBB. But I was mostly talking about the HR/FB and power component of this discussion.

Not a big sample size, but the elementary point I was making stands. Lee is moving to a pitcher’s park where he hasn’t had much success in his career.

Sophist
Guest
Sophist
5 years 9 months ago

If you include the 44 from 2003:

.250 BA, .400 SLG (144 PA).

A ton of walks though: 23 (16% of his PA).

RahulN
Member
RahulN
5 years 9 months ago

I highly doubt it would cost the Braves much in prospects to pull this off, Lee’s a FA at the end of the year and if Atlanta takes on most of the ~3.5M due to Lee, it certainly wouldn’t take anyone close to a Teheran, Delgado, Minor, Beachey, etc. to complete the deal. It shouldn’t, anyway

DonCoburleone
Guest
DonCoburleone
5 years 9 months ago

MLB Trade Rumors is blocked at my work… Somebody check it out and see, I bet they’ve got the guys going back to the Cubs already.

Sophist
Guest
Sophist
5 years 9 months ago

They don’t. It’s going to be a salary dump anyway.

Rally
Guest
Rally
5 years 9 months ago

Glaus’s line is not good enough to warrant a spot in the lineup. But it’s almost identical to that of Lee: 251/335/416. Lee is one year older, both are 6’5, 240+, and have similar career numbers.

The difference is Lee has played better over his last 40 or so games. Generally not a good idea to make decisions based on that instead of the previous 1500. Unless Glaus is playing hurt right now, this move is simply a lateral one.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
5 years 9 months ago

Glaus is certainly not 100% healthy. His knees have been very bad for weeks, which has made him terrible on the basepaths and reduced his range at first. There’s an outside chance that if he’s given some extended time off, he could come back strong.

I’m not thrilled about this deal, but so long as the Braves aren’t giving up any real minor league talent, I guess it can’t hurt. It’s strange that they never did try out their internal option (Freeman) before reaching out for a mediocre, declining veteran.

Bobby A
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

No mlbtr at work? That’s not nice.

It sounds like the Cubs are just getting some salary relief, maybe minor league depth, but not any real prospects.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
5 years 9 months ago

The real difference is that Lee is a near-Gold Glover at first, while Glaus’ true position now is DH. Lee certainly can’t be any worse than Glaus is at the plate right now. As a bonus, the Braves avoid paying Glaus for bonus incentives every time he reaches a certain number of PA.

Ben
Guest
Ben
5 years 9 months ago

Exactly. People keep comparing offensive numbers. Even if Glaus and Lee would perform exactly at the same offensive level, Lee is still a significant upgrade due to the defensive disparity between the two.

Unless the Braves give up a legitimate prospect (which by all accounts they won’t), how can anyone criticize the Braves for this move?

DonCoburleone
Guest
DonCoburleone
5 years 9 months ago

Yeah I don’t see any downside here other than the possibility that Cox decides it’d be a good idea to put Troy Glaus at 3B.

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
5 years 9 months ago

I bet Glaus gets cut if the move is made. There is no chance he could handle third at this point, the man can barely walk without injuring something.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
5 years 9 months ago

More likely that they put him on the DL and keep him around. As May and June demonstrated, there’s still value in his bat, if all cylinders are firing.

Temo
Member
Temo
5 years 9 months ago

They will probably DL him and activate him in September. They’ve been using back-up catcher David Ross as a RH pinch hitter, so having Glaus come off the bench could be the right role for him.

Also, they need to keep Glaus from getting 500 PAs. He’s due 350K at 500 PAs and another 400K at 550 PAs.

Rob F
Guest
Rob F
5 years 9 months ago

There is absolutely no way this is a bad move for the Braves. I think it’ll be an excellent upgrade. I like a line up of

Infante
Heyward
Prado
Lee
McCann
Diaz/Gonzalez
Gonzalez/Melky/Hinske
Ankiel

Obviously this list is based soley on where these players would hit in the order, I’m aware Melky, Hinske, Gonzalez, and Diaz play different positions

rick11p
Guest
rick11p
5 years 9 months ago

” And after holding my breath for a regression for months, I am now inclined to think that this is simply a charmed season for Hudson, for whatever reason.”

Do you all actually watch games? the other night Billy Hohn was calling high strikes, so Hudson went to using a hanging curve, what Smoltz called a “cement mixer”, as a change.

Its painful to watch Glaus run. I think he’ll Dl as soon as this is official

Ben
Guest
Ben
5 years 9 months ago

Looks official. Lee and cash for Robinson Lopez, Tyrelle Harris, and Jeffrey Lorick. Looks like the Braves gave up entirely too much.

GrouchoM00
Guest
GrouchoM00
5 years 9 months ago

Why do you say that? I have no idea what kind of prospects they are.

kbertling353
Guest
kbertling353
5 years 9 months ago

sigh

Holier
Guest
Holier
5 years 9 months ago

Yeah Braves got fleeced here. They have no more pitching prospects.

Temo
Member
Temo
5 years 9 months ago

Lopez is a super-young live-armed guy with control problems and injury issues (mostly in the last couple months). He’s interesting, down the road, but his development track figures to take a while.

Harris and Lorick are relatively advanced, but the odds are against the other two ever seeing the majors in any significant way, though both do a decent job of keeping the ball on the ground (>50% GB rate for both).

rick11p
Guest
rick11p
5 years 9 months ago

You’re kidding, right?

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Guest
5 years 8 months ago

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4 years 8 months ago

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