The Pirates have moved on from all the Derrek Lee drama that was going on earlier in the offseason. Lee was offered arbitration, but declined hoping to find a better team to play his last season or two with. He mentioned that retirement was an option, but it has become pretty clear that Lee wants to play baseball in 2012. However, nobody really wants to sign him. The veteran is still out there looking for work and we’re well into spring training games now, which doesn’t bode well for him.
93.7 The Fan host Andrew Fillipponi talked extensively about Lee last night and how he thought the Pirates bringing him to play first would be a huge upgrade. Fillipponi said that the Pirates can’t win with Garrett Jones at first, but they could win with Lee there. As far as I heard, he didn’t talk much about the Jones/Casey McGehee platoon, which is a much better option than having Jones be the every day guy.
But how much better is Lee than a Jones/McGehee platoon?
Last year, Derrek Lee hit .267/.325/.446, which actually makes his season look better than it actually was. He played 85 games with Baltimore and hit an ugly .246/.302/.404 with 12 home runs. He picked it up in a major way in Pittsburgh and hit .337/.398/.584 with 7 home runs in just 28 games. That made people hope that he would return to Pittsburgh and keep that success going, which is just a ridiculous thing to hope for.
Lee is at the end of his career. He has maybe a year or two left, and chances are they aren’t going to be good statistical years. If the guy would come to Pittsburgh, there would be very little to motivate him to play well, since he would have gotten his last contract and the team doesn’t really have much of a World Series chance. Every sign points to Lee just going through the motions and having a widely disappointing season. He’s already made it clear that he doesn’t want to play in Pittsburgh, so why do fans want to pay a guy like that $7 million for one year?
I think Lee would outperform Jones/McGehee (although I do think those two will do better than you think) in 2012, but certainly not by enough to warrant spending all that extra money on him. In fact, I think any time would be foolish to pay that much money for what Lee will most likely deliver this season.