Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lee deal a good move for NH

 Pirates general manager Neal Huntington recognized the need the Pirates have for middle-of-the-order power hitter and a defensive first baseman and has tried to do something about it.

The Pirates late Saturday night acquired veteran first baseman Derrek Lee from the Baltimore Orioles for Class A hitter Aaron Baker. The team also shipped an undisclosed amount of cash to the Bucs to pick up part of the $2.6 million owed to Lee through the end of the 2011 season.

This idea of getting a first baseman is a no-brainer for the Bucs. First base is traditionally one of the spots in the order power can be counted on from, but through 102 games, the Pirates first base position has yielded just eight home runs and a .228 batting average in 2011. Lee's numbers aren't fantastic, sporting a .246 batting average and 12 HRs. However he has hit .258 with 8 HRs since June 4 and could bring solid veteran leadership to a clubhouse void of it.

I have to say Lee's first comments are a little questionable.These are from the Baltimore Sun:

How do I feel about (the trade)? It’s the business of baseball,” said Lee, who hit .246 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in 85 games for the Orioles.“I knew coming into the year there was a pretty good chance I wasn’t going to finish it here,” Lee said. “So, I understood all of it.” 
“Yeah the (Pirates) are playing good. They turned it around so good for them. I’m still playing baseball, so that’s always a good thing,”

Maybe we shouldn't expect more after losing a doubleheader to the Yankees. Not sure if Lee is making the trip to Philadelphia for today's game but he didn't play the nightcap of the doubleheader so maybe a little help as the Pirates try not to fall 4 1/2 out in the NL Central. Lee is a free agent after the season although it is unclear if the Pirates will receive draft compensation for him if he leaves after the season.

As far as Baker, the first baseman was drafted in 2009 and isn't considered a top prospect. He hit 36 HRs in 289 games combined through the Bucs' Single-A teams. With a career .344 on-base percentage, he was a solid bat but certainly not a major piece to part with to improve the Major League roster.

Overall a shot in the arm for the Pirates' offense. With Alvarez's HR on Saturday night, Lee's arrival and still in talks for another OF possibility, NH has stayed the course as far as the future of the team while still making an effort to improve the big league roster in this surprising season.

Strong indications point to Lyle Overbay's release following Lee's activation, a sad end to a season where the Pirates invested 11% of their payroll in a player who simply wasn't cutting it. Overbay has really done very little to help on the field in the team's rise from the ashes, although it would be foolish to discount his veteran presence in the locker room to a group of young players.

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