The Astros Traded Carlos Lee, They Just Couldn't Get Him to Leave
No matter what else might happen with the Houston Astros this season, the fans should realize one thing: General manager Jeff Luhnow is a genius. What other word can describe a man who not only was able to trade Carlos Lee to a contending team for a good, young pitching prospect, but was also willing to pick up the majority of the money still owed to Lee for this season?
Sure, there was a slight problem with this trade; Carlos Lee had veto power over it. But that's not Luhnow's fault. That's the fault of Drayton McLane, who handed to Carlos Lee what has to be classified as one of the stupidest contracts in Houston sports history.
The surprising thing to come from this weekend is not that the Dodgers were so desperate that they were willing to trade for Carlos Lee, but that there are Astros fans who are shocked, SHOCKED, that Lee would dare to reject a trade to a contending team. Seriously, if you're really a fan of the Astros, and you've watched Lee these past five-plus seasons, how can you be shocked that he rejected this trade?
Have you not watched Lee jog up to first base after hitting a grounder to short? Did you not see Lee, when he played in left field, walk after balls hit down the line, or not chase down balls hit off of the wall? This is a guy who got it written into his contract that he could skip out on spring training so he could come to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and buy cattle for his ranch.
The Dodgers were desperate for help on offense. Matt Kemp, one of the best players in baseball, has spent most of this season on the disabled list. He has been able to take a team onto his back and carry the entire offensive burden, but he has not been there, and nobody else has been able to carry the team. Now, Andre Ethier, who is the second-best all-around player on the Dodgers, is battling injuries, and the Dodgers have gotten desperate.
That the Dodgers were willing to take a chance on Lee shows not only how desperate the Dodgers were, but also how bad the team's current first baseman, James Loney, is. He's so bad that Carlos Lee, a man who can no longer hit outside of Minute Maid Park, a guy who is paid massive sums of money to hit home runs but can now only manage the occasional single, is a major offensive upgrade.
But that also means that Lee would actually be under pressure. He would have to produce. He might actually be expected to run down the line after grounding out, or chase after a ball should he be put in the outfield.
So Carlos Lee did the thing he's best at. He's did absolutely nothing. The teams agreed to the trade on Friday night. He was informed of the trade on Saturday morning. When the team left Chicago for Pittsburgh, he stated that he still hadn't decided on what he wanted to do. And Sunday night, after seeing that Lee really didn't appear to give a damn, the Dodgers pulled the plug on the trade.
There's a month left until the trade deadline, and even then, if Lee can clear waivers, he can still be traded and on a playoff roster until August 31. So there's plenty of time for Luhnow to get a deal involving Lee done. After all, Lee's no-trade clause is limited, and maybe Luhnow will find a team that's not on Lee's no trade-list who is as desperate for Lee as the Dodgers were. But if you're a GM on one of these other teams, don't you kind of have to question if Lee is a guy you want on your team? He's just declined a trade to a team that's in the heart of a playoff race. Do you really want a guy with this type of attitude on your team?
It's easy to be angry with Carlos Lee -- frankly, I've been angry with Lee since he signed with the team because that contract was a disaster in the making. But when you're booing him this weekend -- if you can be bothered to attend an Astros game, that is -- perhaps there's another person you should consider being angry at. It's Drayton McLane who saddled the Astros with this contract. It's McLane who thought signing an overweight DH to a huge deal to play left field was a great idea.
In the end, it's doubtful whether fan anger will bother Lee. He's got his ranch. He'll get his paycheck no matter what. And in the end, I wouldn't be shocked to see Greg Lucas write another loving ode defending Lee and his utter inability to give a damn.