01 August 2011

Cup of jO's (August 1, 2011): Derrek Lee dump

Game Summary
Orioles 2, Yankees 4
Box Score / Play-by-Play / AP Recap

Baltimore dropped the final game of the series to the Bombers and finish the AL East portion of their road trip with a 2-5 record against Toronto and New York. The Birds round out July without winning a single series and have now gone almost two months since winning a series against an AL opponent. They were outscored 33-10 in the Bronx.

Next up is Kansas City -- Alfredo Simon will toe the rubber opposite former Oriole Bruce Chen on Tuesday night in the opening game of a three-game set.

Of interest...
In addition to trading stopper Koji Uehara this past weekend, Derrek Lee was moved to Pittsburgh in exchange for first baseman Aaron Baker, a 23-year old org bat who has spent 2011 in the A-Advanced Florida State League. Baker has a tick above-average raw pop and a thick frame portending impressive batting practice displays. His bat speed is merely "okay", and it's unlikely he amounts to more than an organizational piece capable of playing a solid first base and providing average production until he runs into advanced arms.

While the return is nominal, no one really expected a haul for the veteran Lee, who has struggled through a disappointing 2011 posting a triple-slash line of .246/.302/.404 over 364 plate appearances. At the same time, Orioles fans have much to celebrate with this transaction. With a tip of the hat to Mr. Lee for serving his sentence in Charm City, and best wishes as he departs for a NL Central pennant race as the second newest member of the Bucs (Pittsburgh subsequently acquired Ryan Ludwick from the Padres), Baltimoreans can take away two big positives from the former All-Star's departure.

First and foremost, this signals that Andy MacPhail and the brain trust coordinating the personnel decisions appear to truly be dedicated to giving Chris Davis every chance to get comfortable and show what he has as a starting first baseman. This was a large concern following the Uehara deal, as noted in Part 1 of our Koji trade analysis, and it is terrific news that the organization is going to make at least a two month commitment to figuring out whether or not Davis looks like a future contributor.

Secondly, Baltimore should be saving a little over one million dollars once cash considerations on the Lee deal are taken into account. Hopefully we will see that saved money funneled into draft signings. It would be a nice chunk of change to tack on to the offer to Georgia commit Nicky Delmonico (3b, Farragut HS, Knoxville, Tenn.) or enough to sign TCU outfielder Jason Coats outright (with some jingle left over). Of course, it's possible that the freed-up cash is required to meet 1st Rounder Dylan Bundy's immense asking price, but with plenty of other troubles in Birdland we prefer to remain positive. Here's to looking back on August 16th and fondly remembering when Mr. MacPhail was able to move Derrek Lee for an org bat and an overslot signing or two.

Note: We will not be running a "possibilities" piece on the Lee deal. Baltimore achieved a solid salary dump -- little more needs to fleshed out here. We will discuss Koji a bit more today (promise) and will also share some thoughts on what, if any, other moves would have been nice to see prior to yesterday's 4pm Eastern trade deadline.

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