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Fake trade: Carlos Lee for Derek Lowe

Oct 15, 2009, 3:59 PM EDT

Braves acquire OF Carlos Lee from the Astros for RHP Derek Lowe and OF Brandon Jones.
Why it works for Atlanta: the Braves would love to bring Tim Hudson back, yet they already have five starters in Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson and Kenshin Kawakami. One of the vets needs to go, and the Braves could surely use some right-handed power in return. Enter Lee, who has three years and $55.5 million left on his contract. He’s not an ideal choice, given that the Braves could have an inexpensive and productive Nate McLouth-Jordan Schafer-Jason Heyward outfield in 2011. However, he’d look awfully nice in the middle of the order next year and the Braves probably aren’t going to be able to move Lowe without taking another large contract in return.
Why it works for Houston: the Astros finished 13th in the NL in ERA and 14th in runs scored this season, so they need help any way they can get it. Lee’s poor defense in left field really cuts into his value, and there’s a good case to be made for Lowe, as a consistent 200-inning-per-year guy, as the better property even before salary gets factored in. Lowe, like Lee, is signed through 2012, but the Astros would save $3.5 million per year by making the deal. It’s money that could be used to shore up the infield defense. That’s something they need to do anyway, but it’d be a must with a sinkerballer like Lowe in the rotation. They’d also get a possible fourth outfielder in Jones, who hit .281/.360/.419 in Triple-A this season.
Why it won’t happen: Lee has a no-trade clause through the end of next year, and he owns a ranch outside of Houston. He might want to stick around even if he realizes that the Braves are in a much better position to contend next year. The Astros have already foolishly committed $3 million to Brian Moehler, a pitcher who wouldn’t have much business remaining in the rotation with Lowe around. The Braves are concerned about their defense, which is one reason they didn’t pursue Adam Dunn when he was served to them on a platter last winter. They’ll likely focus on finding short-term upgrades for the offense.

  1. Alan - Oct 15, 2009 at 4:18 PM

    This week the NlCS and ALCS starts and you don’t have something better to write than this garbage of a fake trade. Is this supposed to show us your intelligent? It doesn’t, try writing about the teams in the playoffs.

  2. Alan - Oct 15, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    This week the NlCS and ALCS starts and you don’t have something better to write than this garbage of a fake trade. Is this supposed to show us your intelligent? It doesn’t, try writing about the teams in the playoffs.

  3. Grant - Oct 15, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    Calm down. There have been a few days off and it’s a slow news day. I’m guessing Matthew had some down time and decided to write up a few of these, which he’s done before and which generally are pretty interesting thought experiments. There really isn’t much news out there about the teams about to start playing, and the previews have been posted. It’s go time. Might as well fill the next couple hours with some other writing.
    As to the fake trade, I don’t like it for the Braves at all. They’ve got Heyward coming and Schaefer probably coming back. Lee is a lousy defender and a huge regression candidate (he’s big and fat and 33, which is a nasty age). His power slipped considerably last year. Lowe is a serviceable pitcher and there are probably better bad contracts to swap him for, if that’s what the team decides it needs to do. But it probably doesn’t even need to do that.

  4. JL - Oct 15, 2009 at 5:48 PM

    I agree with Grant about Lee. Thinking about Lee lumbering around the Braves’ outfield as he gracefully ages scares the crap out of me. But I wouldn’t mind them shipping out Lowe, as long as they get a fair return.

  5. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Oct 16, 2009 at 8:23 AM

    Is this supposed to show us your intelligent?

    Irony!!!

  6. Mo Green - Oct 16, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    I like these fake trades as exercises, they get you thinking about teams’ strengths and weaknesses. The real glaring hole on the Braves offensively is right handed power. You can get away with this somewhat if you have lefties who can hit lefties, but they don’t, LHP’s dominated Atlanta this season. Aside from Chipper and Martin Prado, no one really scares lefties in that lineup.
    Brandon Jones and Derek Lowe are each caught in a logjam at their respective positions, they are the right pieces to give up. The Braves could even let Hudson go, trade Lowe, and move Kris Medlen up to their 5th starter spot if they really wanted to save money. I’m guessing that, being the Braves, they have some organizational depth to fall back on when the inevitable injuries happen.

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