New year, new first baseman for the Orioles.
After all the worry, hand-wringing and frustration over how long the process played out, the O's got a decent first sacker, one that is one season removed from hitting 35 homers with 111 RBI in 141 games.
They didn't get Victor Martinez, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena or Adam LaRoche, who just wasn't worthy of a three-year deal.
The O's began the offseason with Martinez as their top target to be their new first baseman. In ending up with Derrek Lee, they get a player with similar offensive numbers when you compare their average 162-game stats.
Lee: .282/28/90.........37 2B's and .865 OPS.
VMart: .300/21/103.....38 2Bs and .838 OPS.
If there is any potential negative or two about this signing, which is soon to be official, Lee is 35 and coming off a season where he was hurt. He is a short-term solution and not the future first baseman for the O's.
But there are plenty of reasons to like adding Lee. He's a proven hitter, a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner and four times has finished in the top 30 for NL MVP. Reports say he is a high character guy that may be just the kind of person you want around your young players.
He's also a right-handed hitter and the O's added three of those for their new-look infield.
By the way, the career high homer marks for the three new infielders are 46 for Lee, 44 for Mark Reynolds and 26 for J.J. Hardy. The best homer career high for any other O's projected starter is the 27 Luke Scott hit last year.
(In the middle of this post, we take a break for a funny line I saw last night on Twitter. Yes, big night at my house by the way. Dan Patrick's wife said to him, "so there's a chick-flick bowl? That's Chick-Fil-A, dear.")
Lee won't cost the O's a draft pick, but maybe he has a great half year and they move him for a prospect in July.
Or maybe he's here all year and both sides consider him staying beyond 2011. Or, at the least, he buys the O's another season to ponder their future at this position.
Will someone like Brandon Snyder, Josh Bell or Joe Mahoney emerge as the heir apparent for the spot? Could Nolan Reimold end up there?
By the way, it is also worth pointing out that Lee's 35 homers in 2009 stands out as a little fluky when you see that over the last four seasons he has hit 22, 20, 35 and 19 homers. Fans should not expect 35, but, hey, we'll take it if he turns out to love that short porch in left center at the Yard.
Here's my projected O's lineup with Lee added now and yes, I'm stubbornly still placing Adam Jones second.
2B - Brian Roberts
CF - Adam Jones
RF - Nick Markakis
1B - Derrek Lee
DH - Luke Scott
3B - Mark Reynolds
C - Matt Wieters
LF - Nolan Reimold
SS - J.J Hardy
Looks like a decent lineup to me.
No one is saying Lee is still All-Star caliber or will even hit 30 homers, but he is a solid player with a proven track record.
This looks like it might work out better than that Garrett Atkins pickup.