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Jul
02
2012

An Open Letter to Carlos Lee

This is going to be one of the more difficult letters I’ve ever writen to an athlete (Yes, I’ve written more than one).

Carlos,

I could make it easy on myself and just completely trash you like many of the other commentators out there, but I’m not going to do that. As a baseball fan in general, I understand the hard fought rights that you and your fellow players fought for. The ability to negotiate no trade clauses and 10-and-5 rights was one of the more meaningful achievements in collective bargaining.

Most of us get it. Everyone wants to make more money and everyone wants to win, but everyone also wants to work in a city that is good for our family and be comfortable where we work. We get it that and no one is going to begrudge you the right to turn down a trade to Los Angeles Dodgers. We can mince words and say that the Dodgers actually rescinded the trade, but let’s be honest with ourselves. You either verbally vetoed the trade, or you vetoed the trade through your own inaction. Either way, you caused it to die.

Earlier in the season, the Astros supposedly had a deal worked out with the Brewers for you to take over for injured first baseman Mat Gamel. Those rumors weren’t as firm as these. We never knew who the Astros would would get back in that exchange as we knew that Garrett Gould would come back to the Astros in this now dead deal. Gould is a nice prospect. The Dodgers official MLB site has him rated as their tenth best prospect while Baseball America has him rated as their sixth best prospect. Gould isn’t going to make or break the Astros future, but he would have given their system yet another solid prospect.

This is where the internal conflict comes in. In addition to be being a baseball fan in general, I also make no bones about the fact that I am a Houston Astros fan. While we all recognize that you have the right to stay in Houston, I’m just not getting why you would choose to do so. Yes, you would be leaving friends and family, but there is no way you are coming back next season, so it would be a three month sojourn.

Let’s keep a couple of things in mind. First, the Astros have already tried to deal you twice that we know of. Obviously, they don’t want you. I was one of your staunchest defenders last season. It was one of your better all-around seasons in Houston. Sure, you didn’t put up huge numbers, but you played solid to good defense at two different positions. A lot of people think you don’t care, but I’m not going to argue that one way or another. You may be one of those people that hides behind a facade of laughter. Who knows, you may beat yourself up inside.

So, I don’t think that their lack of desire to keep you around has anything to do with you per se. It is about the fact that you are not a part of their future. When you are in fifth place (and falling) in the division, you start to look to the future. Brett Wallace might be that future or he might just be a place holder. Either way, Jeff Luhnow and the rest of the Astros staff want to find out. They can’t while you’re there.

Moreover, it isn’t like they were sending you to the abyss or to a place where you wouldn’t play everyday. You almost certainly would have been the regular first baseman in Milwaukee and the Dodgers could have played you at first base and in left field. Furthermore, both teams are either in the wild card hunt or in the hunt for their division championship. The Astros are playing for draft position next season.

It’s hard defending you these days Carlos. Others say you are lazy and that you just don’t care anymore (if you ever did). They say you are backing up the truck on payday. I understand that it’s hard to say one way or another by looking at you play, but your decision this weekend says it all. You had the opportunity to go to the National League team with the third best record. You turned it down to stay with the team with the third worse record. That tells us all we need to know about your character.

Scott Barzilla writes for thefanmanifesto. You can also follow him on twitter at @sbarzilla. You can follow the rest of the staff at @thefanmanifesto.

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