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Baltimore Orioles Upgrade Infield with Derrek Lee Signing

After finishing a disappointing 66-96 last season, the Baltimore Orioles have made strides to upgrade their team this off-season. First they acquired Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks in a trade, and then they brought in shortstop J.J. Hardy from Minnesota in another deal. Now, The Baltimore Sun reports they have agreed on a one-year deal with first baseman Derrek Lee.

Lee is coming off a down year where he only hit .260 with 19 home runs. He got traded mid-season to the Braves and did well, but he only managed three home runs in 129 at-bats for them. Given that Lee smashed 35 home runs with a .972 OPS in 2009, this is a strong signing for Baltimore. On top of consistently playing good defense, he’s a good bounceback candidate for 2011.

Baltimore may not be anywhere near competing in the AL East, but at least they’ve improved their team. The infield consisting of Reynolds, Hardy, Roberts, and Lee is nothing special, but at least it’s respectable. Their pitching is another story, but at least they’re moving in a competitive direction, and I’d much rather have Lee on a one-year deal than Adam LaRoche on a three.

NL Playoff Preview and Players to Watch

Also check out Alan Hull’s AL Playoff Preview

As the season wraps up and the National League contenders begin to separate themselves from one another, here is a look at some key players to watch down the stretch and through October.

ATLANTA BRAVES

Derrek Lee: There is no better way to add zeroes to the back of your next contract than to perform in the post-season when the stakes are the highest and all of baseball is watching. Lee will be looking to sign one last lucrative contract after this season. He had an opportunity to reinvent himself upon being traded to Atlanta, with the hopes he would replace some of the production lost when Chipper Jones went down. Lee responded by hitting a decent .289/.375/.433 since the trade. He will get another chance to start over in October and a few big hits will go a long way for his financial future.

Tommy Hanson: Tim Hudson has had a big season for the Braves, but has faded a bit down the stretch. Hanson, however, is the Braves most talented pitcher and has flown under the radar due to a mediocre win-loss record. This post-season may be a coming-out party for the 23-year-old future ace.

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Derek Lee Could Be Headed to Atlanta

The Chicago Cubs have been nothing shy of terrible this season. That’s why it’s not surprising to hear that Derrek Lee, who has spent the last five years with the Cubs, may be getting traded to the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs are currently 20 games under .500 and 18 1/2 games back in the NL Central. If I were Lee, I’d want out of there as fast as I could.

The Cubs looked like they might be able to turn things around after the All-Star break until then they got slapped around by the Rockies and Brewers.  It’s possible that Lee blocked the trade with the Angels in July because he was still holding out hope that their luck would turn.  However, it’s hard to stay positive and win ballgames when it seems like your own manager has given up on your team.

I think getting away from the Cubs would be a smart decision for Lee.  Chicago’s season is practically over and he would at least have a shot at a World Series ring if he went to the Braves.  That should be all that matters at this stage in his career.  Lee has done the best he could to help the Cubs, but you can’t expect one player to do it all.  The Cubs are full of talent.  They just couldn’t get it together this year to make it work.  I think D-Lee will find himself much happier in the Atlanta sun, with a chance to contend for a championship, than he would be in Chicago knowing the other side of town is fighting for one too.

Source:
Cubs working on deal to send Lee to Braves [Chicago Breaking Sports]