Carlos Lee: Best Available Slugger?

Carlos Lee is still The Man, one of the biggest names likely to switch teams this season.  This could be a massive development for AL-only fantasy players, but that’s a post for a different blog.  What we’re trying to figure out here is where Mr. Lee might end up.

Back in early February, this topic was the talk of the town.  The Carlos Lee trade thread got 100 comments (of course, no log in was required back then.)  That thread is not to be confused with my ever popular April Fool’s joke about Lee.

I listed four reasons the Brewers are likely to deal Lee: his salary and impending free agency, the savvy of Doug Melvin, the readiness of Corey Hart, and Lee’s overrated RBI totals.  This year, Lee is again looking to drive in over 110 runs with a mediocre OBP.  However, he’s already got 19 home runs so he could top his career high of 32.  I don’t want to get too hung up on OBP – .340 isn’t Soriano territory and 40 home runs is 40 home runs.  Lee has tons of valuable for any contender.

Here is an updated list of the possible suitors.  Remember, Lee pretty much needs to play left field or DH.

Angels – If the Halos are looking for a more reasonable power source than Manny, Lee makes some sense.  They’ve got the top flight prospects to do it, and Lee would go a long way towards fixing the third worst slugging percentage in the league.

Yankees – Two big names are now residing on the DL, so everyone expects the Yankees to make some kind of move.  Even if Melky Cabrera continues to exceed expectations, the Yanks would probably feel better adding a true slugger.  The prime need continues to be pitching, but Cashman/Steinbrenner may choose to just build upon the team’s strength and try to outslug opponents.  I can’t see how a deal gets made without Philip Hughes and one of the team’s younger highly rated prospects.  Even then, it seems like the Brewers could find a better deal. 

Braves – I had the Braves on here last time, mentioning their trades for J.D. Drew, Gary Sheffield, and Fred McGriff as precedent.  Atlanta is six games back in third place, but hitting for power hasn’t been an issue with Brian McCann, Andruw Jones, Adam LaRoche, and others.  More likely the team deals to try to improve its 12th ranked 4.58 team ERA in both the rotation and the ‘pen.

Cardinals –  You’ve still got that same division thing, so it seems less than likely.  You have to think Anthony Reyes is starting in 2006 for a team other than the Cardinals.  Looking further into my crystal ball, I can see that Reyes, a Devil Ray, will come highly touted by RotoAuthority for 2007 and will promptly pull a Ryan Madson.

Tigers – Yes, the Tigers are looking for a left-handed hitter and Lee does not fit that profile.  But if Detroit can keep the Thames/Monroe platoon in left and use Lee at DH, that would be a formidable addition.  The Tigers have all sorts of young arms ripe for the tradin’.

Dodgers – Looks like the Dodgers are going the rookie route, with Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Joel Guzman seeing time in left field.  This is not a team lacking options in the outfield.  Problem is, most of those options are rookies or injury-prone.  The Dodgers are just a game back right now.

Those are the main candidates in my eyes.  But here’s a more basic way to look at it.  What does Carlos Lee provide?  Slugging.  Who needs slugging and is at least pretending to contend?  Padres, Cubs, Angels, Astros, Mariners, A’s.

In the end, I like the Cards and Halos in this race if Doug Melvin decides to sell.

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