Results tagged ‘ Derrek Lee ’

Braves still evaluating remaining needs

With the acquisition of Dan Uggla, the Braves gained the powerful right-handed bat that they were seeking to place in the middle of the lineup.  Now as Frank Wren constructs his Christmas wish list, he might want to request the acquisition of a creative accountant.

The Braves didn’t enter this offseason with a lot of financial flexibility and they obviously now have even less. With Uggla set to make around $10 million as an arb.-eligible player, the Braves essentially took on about $7 million payroll with last week’s trade with the Marlins (Infante $2.5 million and Dunn $450,000). 

Looking at the projected 25-man roster, the Braves could benefit from adding a veteran reliever and improving their depth in both the infield and outfield. With Diory Hernandez standing as the most likely candidate to begin the season as a utility infielder who can play shortstop, there would certainly be reason to believe this could be a priority. 

But before strengthening his outfield or infield depth, Wren may look to ensure he has enough money to provide Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters the influence of somebody who has previously closed in the Majors. 

Somebody like J.J. Putz would fit the description of what Wren is seeking in this role.  But Putz, who is drawing interest from the D-backs, could prove to be too expensive for the Braves who have these multiple roster needs and somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million left to spend. 

Wren might find some more financial breathing room if Kenshin Kawakami suddenly reveals that he is willing to return to his native land and pitch for one of the Japanese professional clubs that have said they are willing to eat a portion of the $6.67 million the Braves still owe him next year.

Before opening myself up to be criticized by those who believe I have bashed Kawakami while writing about this in the past, let’s remember that he’s not the one who offered himself the three-year, $23 million contract that he agreed upon before the start of the 2009 season. 

Nor has he had a chance to control the limited run support he’s received while going 8-20 with a 4.30 ERA in 41 career starts at the Major League level.

Still with this being said, it’s clear that Kawakami’s days of pitching for the Braves are complete.  At the same time, it’s become apparent that there aren’t too many Major League clubs currently showing strong interest in him. 

Even with the possibility that he might spend this entire season in the Minors, Kawakami has indicated he wants to remain in the United States.  If he returns to his native Japan, he feels he would erase his final opportunity to prove that he can be successful in the U.S.

Kawakami didn’t mind continuing to enjoy the U.S. lifestyle when the Braves optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett last August.  The ballpark was just a short drive from the suburban Atlanta mansion (formerly resided in by rapper Lil’ Bow Wow) that he has rented the past two summers.

I’m going to have to guess he won’t find these same luxuries in Pearl, Mississippi.  Now that he might have realized the Braves are more than willing to keep him on the Double-A Mississippi roster, he might have to at least start reconsidering the possibility of pitching for one of those Japanese clubs that have shown interest. 

There really shouldn’t be any Braves-related surprises Tuesday when all
Major League clubs must decide whether to make arbitration offers to
their free agents.  This deadline really only applies to first baseman Derrek Lee, who is their only free agent who was ranked a Type A or Type B free agent by the Elias Sports Bureau.  

While the Braves would certainly like to gain the draft pick compensation they would gain courtesy of Lee’s status as a Type A free agent, they certainly aren’t in position to deal with the consequences of him accepting the offer to gain a one-year deal worth at least $13 million.   

Presley appears close to becoming Orioles hitting coach

In an attempt to promote good health, here are a few tidbits to chew on this Halloween weekend.  In other words, put down the miniature Snickers bar and strengthen your mind by digesting some of this information. In case you forgot, that candy was bought for those Kris Medlen-sized figures who will soon be knocking on your door.

  • The list of candidates to serve as Fredi Gonzalez’s hitting coach appears to have dwindled.  A Major League source said he expects Jim Presley, who handled this same role for Gonzalez in Florida, to soon sign a two-year deal to become Buck Showalter’s hitting coach in Baltimore.
  • Matt Diaz has privately told some friends that he’d be willing to avoid arbitration and sign for the same $2.55 million salary he earned this past year. Still it appears, the Braves will likely non-tender him and possibly re-sign him if he’s willing to play for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1-1.5 million this year.  With this being said, I won’t be surprised to see Diaz end up in Philadelphia with his good friend and offseason neighbor Charlie Manuel.
  • Derrek Lee, Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito have all been classified as Type A free agents.  With Wagner and Saito both possibly contemplating retirement, their status likely won’t affect Frank Wren’s offseason decisions.  But if other teams show strong interest in Lee, the Braves would be able to more comfortably offer him arbitration without the fear that he would accept and gain a salary of more than $13 million for the 2011 season.

Lee will bat cleanup in Braves debut

When the Braves acquired Derrek Lee Wednesday, I thought Braves manager Bobby Cox would flip-flop Brian McCann (vs. right-handers) and Derrek Lee (vs. left-handers) in the cleanup spot. 

So much for assuming. 

Lee will bat cleanup this afternoon when he faces his former Cubs teammates, who will be sending right-hander Ryan Dempster to the mound to oppose Jair Jurrjens.

Obviously it wasn’t enough to simply ask Lee to make his Braves debut less the 48-hours after he was forced to say goodbye to his Cubs teammates.  Facing Dempster for the first time in his career will simply stir the emotions of Atlanta’s new first baseman.

Dempster and Lee grew up together in the Marlins organization and were teammates in Florida through the early portion of the 2002 season.  They were reunited when they both joined the Cubs in 2004.  

There’s no doubt that Dempster shared a special bond with Lee, who has been beloved by his teammates throughout his career.  

Late last night I received a text from Mark Kotsay that simply read, “You’re going to love  my boy D. Lee.” 

I’m heading down to the clubhouse to meet Lee.  Check back in throughout the day for updates. 

TODAY’S LINEUP
Infante 4
Heyward 9
Prado 5
Lee 3
McCann 2
Gonzalez 6
Cabrera 7
Ankiel 8
Jurrjens 1

    

Braves and Cubs still discussing Lee

UPDATED:

The Braves appear to be in the final stages of the process to land veteran first baseman Derrek Lee from the Cubs. Multiple sources seem quite confident that the trade will completed within the next hour or two.  

Lee’s recent back problems are certainly concerning.  But at the same time, it has simply been uncomfortable to watch Troy Glaus play through the leg discomfort that has him to be a liability in the lineup the past couple of months. 

The Braves have seen enough to know that Glaus’ legs aren’t going to get any better this year.  They can only hope that Lee’s back discomfort proves to be temporary. 

With Adam LaRoche reportedly clearing waivers, the Braves would have an option to bring him back to play first base for the rest of this season.  But they would rather get a right-handed bat with the power potential that Lee finally showed again this weekend.

Lee has batted .282 with six homers and a .454 slugging percentage over his past 43 games.  Four of those homers were compiled this weekend against the Cardinals.  Braves top scout Jim Fregosi was present during that three-game series in St. Louis.   <p>

Given that most of his recent power came during this recent three-day stretch, Lee isn’t a definite solution to the Braves offensive problems.  Entering this past weekend, he had homered just twice in his previous 41 games.

But while hitting .265 with a .682 OPS  during this 41-game stretch, he at least proved more productive than Glaus, who has hit .175 with a .551 OPS in his past 45 games.

Throw in the fact that Lee is clearly a superior defender and it’s obvious that this trade would at least improve the Braves.   But at the same time, it’s not exactly comforting to know that he would be coming to Atlanta with one of these back problems that seemingly never disappear overnight. 

If this deal falls through, the Braves might at least want to look at the risk of adding LaRoche to their already left-handed heavy lineup.  He has batted .382 (21-for-55) with two homers against left-handed pitchers since the All-Star break. 

Braves attempting to land Derrek Lee

The Braves are aggressively attempting to acquire Cubs veteran first baseman Derrek Lee.  

According to a source familiar with the situation, the Braves are currently evaluating Lee’s health.  The 34-year-old first baseman has recently been bothered by lower back discomfort.   

Lee has a full no-trade clause that he exercised last month when the Cubs attempted to trade him to the Angels.   It is still unknown whether he has said he would accept a trade to the Braves. 

Reached by MLB.com, Lee had no comment. 
 
With Troy Glaus struggling at the plate and experiencing more leg discomfort recently, the Braves have been looking for a veteran first baseman who can hit in the middle of their lineup.  
Lee has  hit .251 with 16 homers and a .751 OPS this year.   The two-time All-Star is in the final year of his contract.  He is still owed  a little more than $3 million for the remainder of this season.  

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