Today I wanna look at a position that I think is a good topic of discussion. It is a position that was very controversial at the beginning of last year. Jim Hendry made a big trade in late November for Derrek Lee. He sent Big Choi and a PTBNL which turned into SP – Mike Nannini. When this trade went down, I was very positive about it. There were a few writers that did not like the deal at all.

“Was it a good move? Well, it may be a couple of years before we find out. I don’t think I would’ve made this trade though.”

“…I think this deal is likely to be a small boon to the Cubs.” “I just don’t see any way that one year of Lee is worth $6M and a PTBNL and several years of Choi.”

Derek from Lets Play Two even went as far as keeping a trade tracker in which he charted the successes of both players. In the end, Derek Lee had the better of the two seasons but the Cubs missed the playoffs.

First Base – Derrek Lee
Everywhere I read that Lee is poised for a breakout year at the plate. I’m not sure that we can expect much more than we already see. Do you really see Derrek Lee as a consistent 40+ HR guy? I really don’t. I see him as a consistent 30-35 HR guy that never quite reaches that 40 HR plateau. The one area that I do see him improving is his contact numbers. He will hit .300 soon, if not this year. Most power hitters don’t become good average hitters until later in their career. Lee is a tremendously good fielder and well worth the Choi trade in my opinion. My one complaint is that he always seemed to be curiously quiet in big game situations.

Could Be Better
The obvious player could be talked about here, but instead of focusing on how it could be THAT much better, and have to mention a Cardinal, I will talk about a future MVP. A few years ago, I read a publication that focused on prospects and everything I read said that Mark Teixeira was a batting title waiting to happen. Now, couple that with his rising power numbers and you not only have a future batting title, but a future MVP on your hands. In his rookie year, Texiera hit 26 HR and increased it by 12 the sophomore season last year. His average also went up to .281, which is well on it’s way. I look for a monster year from this kid this year. Watch for 40+ HR, 135 RBI and a .300 average. MVP numbers from a player much younger than our own Rodan.

Could Be Worse
This one may make people angry, but look on the bright side. We have Derrek Lee at first base, but we could be STUCK with the BUST that is Hee Seop Choi. Yes you heard me right, I said bust. Choi did nothing after his trade to LA. His spot at first base is safe for now according to Jim Tracy. With no one in the wings except so far disappointing prospect Jim Loney, look for Choi to get the full season to try to silence the critics. I look for him to disappoint.

VORP Numbers

Mark Teixeira – 52.6 (1st in the AL)
Derrek Lee – 43.3 (9th in the NL)
Hee Seop Choi – 27.5/-3.9 (First # is with Fla / Second # is with LA)

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail