Marlins Acquire Carlos Lee

Carlos Lee is heading to Miami. While the 36-year-old first baseman vetoed a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, Lee accepted a deal was sent to the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Lee is clearly on the decline, but his .286/.336/.412 line is a nice upgrade over the .236/.292/.359 line put up by Marlins’ first basemen this season. Still, the Marlins are 39-42, and currently nine games out of first place. Lee will help, but the Marlins are going to need more if they hope to get back into the playoff race.

The Marlins’ offense was in desperate need for an upgrade. The team’s .307 wOBA ties them with the San Francisco Giants for 22nd in baseball. A big part of the Marlins’ offensive struggles has been first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who has collapsed this season. Sanchez — who was sent to the minors for a stint this year and now returns to Triple-A with Lee’s acquisition — has hit just .194/.240/.283. His -0.9 WAR is the worst among all first basemen. Simply put, trading for Lee helps mask the Marlins’ biggest deficiency.

But still, Lee is no longer an offensive powerhouse. While Lee’s average and on-base percentage are similar to his career numbers, his slugging percentage since 2010 is just .428. That’s a far cry from his .489 career mark. Plus, those numbers came in Houston, which has a 117 home-run-park factor for righties. It’s too early to get accurate figures on the new Marlins Park, but it’s unlikely to play that favorably to right-handed hitters. Lee still makes contact at a good clip (89.9%) — and he should continue to high for a decent average — but he can’t singlehandedly save the Marlins.

And that’s pretty significant, too. The Marlins are three games under .500 and are playing in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. The Marlins also have the fifth-worst run differential (-59) in the National League. It’s not impossible for them to get back in the race, but one player isn’t going to fix all those problems. If the Marlins want to contend, they’re going to have to be much more active as the trading deadline nears.

The Marlins could really use some help in the center field. Emilio Bonifacio’s return from the disabled list will help, but he’s a poor defender and he can’t hit for power. Marlins’ center fielders have combined for a 0.1 WAR this season, which ranks them 27th in the major leagues. The team also needs help in the bullpen, where Heath Bell has continued his decline. As Ozzie Guillen reminded us on Tuesday, Bell’s not the only problem in the ‘pen. Add those problems to the issue in left field — where Logan Morrison has a .242/.317/.433 line —and it’s obvious that this team needs way more than one new player to right this ship.

As for Lee, it will be interesting to see how he responds to his reunion with Ozzie Guillen. Guillen was critical of Lee’s non-aggressive playing style when he was Lee’s manager with the Chicago White Sox. In a game against the Minnesota Twins, Torii Hunter collided with White Sox catcher Jamie Burke, who had to leave the game with a concussion. Lee had an opportunity to take out the Twins second baseman on a slide late in the game, and did not. After Lee was traded to Milwaukee the following off-season, Guillen cited that moment as one of the reasons for the deal.

Still, it’s not like the Marlins gave up that much. The Astros are paying the rest of Lee’s contract this season — minus the pro-rated minimum — so he’s basically playing in Miami for free. Matt Dominguez is a former top prospect, but his bat has stalled terribly. He’s still just 22, so there’s a chance for him to turn things around. If he can’t improve his hitting, he’ll be a good defensive replacement. Rob Rasmussen was the Marlins’ 11th best prospect coming into the season, Marc Hulet wrote earlier. Hulet also noted that unless Rasmussen improves his control and command, he’d become a lefty reliever.

Lee’s an upgrade, just not a big one. His addition isn’t going to save the Marlins’ season. But if this move signifies that the Marlins are going to go for it in 2012, they’re going to need much, much more.



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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


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MikeS
Guest
MikeS
4 years 20 days ago

Lee was traded by the White Sox more because Guillen wanted more speed, better defense and a prototypical leadoff hitter who would slap the ball and steal bases. Also because they didn’t think they could/would/should sign him when he reached free agency. The trade brought back Scott Podsednik and Luis VIzciano. Think what you will of Podsednik, it was exactly what they wanted and his defense was superior to Lee even if it wasn’t all that good. Both contributed to the World Championship season. It could be argued that Lee would have contributed just as much that year but the combo produced 2.4 WAR to Lee’s 2.0. Podsenik alone posted 2.2 so he “outvalued” Lee. Lee also proved in Houston that he wasn’t really worth 6 years and $100M.

Domenic
Guest
4 years 20 days ago

Just a head’s up – Carlos Lee didn’t “approve” the trade, inasmuch as he simply didn’t indicate that he was willing or unwilling to play for the Marlins. The NTC in his original contract with the Astros trumped his 10 & 5 rights, and the Marlins were not on his list.

Higuys
Member
4 years 20 days ago

If I were the Marlins, I would have taken my chances with Vladmir Guerrero rather than getting Carlos Lee

Higuys
Member
4 years 20 days ago

Of course, that’s just my opinion

Matt NW
Guest
Matt NW
4 years 20 days ago

Vlad at first base? Surely not the outfield. This is the league that has the pitcher remind the fans that hitting is very hard.

Sen-Baldacci
Guest
Sen-Baldacci
4 years 20 days ago

Vlad? The guy the DH starved BlueJays couldn’t bare giving an MLB at-bat to? The guy who’s never played first base before (I’m pretty sure)?some opinions are best left unsaid.
El Caballo is a nice little hitter still and should bring a little consistency to the lineup that doesn’t seem to bring it on a daily basis.

BMac
Member
BMac
4 years 20 days ago

I agree that there is no reason to suspect that Vlad is still a major league hitter, seeing as he hit poorly last season and did not do much at the PCL.

No reason to suspect he can place 1B, either.

But DH-starved Blue Jays! With Edwin Encarnacion, Ben Francisco & Adam Lind, I think they are over-endowed in that dept. Edwin in particular has been hitting quite well.

Baldacci
Guest
Baldacci
4 years 20 days ago

DH starved is a reference to the fact that the Jays start Lind there most days. Lind is not good and Ben Francisco is worse. Encarnacion is their 1B so his great year does not factor in to the quality of their DH position.

gobears
Member
gobears
4 years 20 days ago

Agree with everything but Baldacci’s use of the word “little.” El Caballo is effing WIDE.

RaulMondesi
Guest
RaulMondesi
4 years 20 days ago

Wasn’t LoMo a first baseman when he was in the minors. Perhaps Higuys was thinking to move LoMo to first, and put Vlad in left.

Either way, I doubt that would be a good solution to the Marlin’s offensive dilemmas.

superdong
Guest
superdong
4 years 20 days ago

If Justin Ruggiano keeps hitting like he has in his first 68 ABs, maybe they can live with subpar production out of 1B. Hitting a cool .408 in a mere 68 ABs as of this morning.

GUY
Guest
GUY
4 years 20 days ago

That BABIP of .449 is gonna come crashing down, but ZiPS still likes him as about a league average bat ROS FWIW.

illinibob
Guest
illinibob
4 years 20 days ago

I can only say that Astros fans are rejoicing at the news, not only did we net a couple prospects for Lee (Luhnow, you’re the MAN!), but it also presumably opens up first for Brett Wallace to show that he really is a .300 hitter at the ml level.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 19 days ago

Astro fans are hoping you’re talking BA, not wOBA.

He’s already shown he’s a .309 wOBA batter at the ML level.

Brazen Reader
Guest
Brazen Reader
4 years 20 days ago

While Carlos Lee may improve the batting statistics of Miami first basemen, he will consume far more of the post-game buffet and thereby damage the bottom line. How did Loria miss that?

sadMarinersfan
Guest
sadMarinersfan
4 years 20 days ago

When I read “Add those problems to the issue in left field — where Logan Morrison has a .242/.317/.433 line —and it’s obvious that this team needs way more than one new player to right this ship” I did a double take. He’s got a .750 OBP, and he’s considered a problem? The Mariners have one player with a higher than .750 OBP and 100+ AB’s. Two players with a higher than .750 OBP if you account for guys with over 40 AB’s.

I would KILL for a guy with a .750 OBP on my Mariners. Unquestionably.

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 20 days ago

I’m pretty sure any fan would kill for a few guys with a .750 OBP on their team….

(I think you mean OPS)

sadMarinersfan
Guest
sadMarinersfan
4 years 20 days ago

x’s and o’s :)

sadMarinersfan
Guest
sadMarinersfan
4 years 20 days ago

I can’t believe I wrote OBP four times without self-correcting!

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