Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/5/12
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Lee Deal Not Exactly What Astros Wanted The Astros and Carlos Lee have finally parted ways. After trying to work out a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that fell apart due in large part to Lee's disinterest in taking a big tax hit in leaving Texas for California the Astros found a new partner in the Miami Marlins. For Lee, Miami was reportedly not on his non-trade list. It may have been for the same reason the Dodgers were on it--the tax matter. Make no mistake about it, Carlos Lee is a businessman. He knows those things and doesn't have to totally rely on agents and advisors. When his big baseball salary ends after this season there will be no financial hardship for the Lee family. Extensive cattle ranching spreads in Texas and Panama assure his future. He has been investing his baseball wealth, not squandering it. The deal for the Astros had to be made. Since Carlos had declined the trade to Los Angeles the club faced a return to Minute Maid Park on Friday and hardly a welcome for Lee from a significant segment of fans. Few of those fans really know Lee. All they know is that he isn't as good as he once was and his paycheck is obscenely too great for his current skill level. Let me tell you though. Carlos is not a bad man. He is not a malcontent. He has always gotten along with his team mates and has served as a mentor for some of the younger players. He is simply past his prime. In his prime he was an outstanding complimentary star. He was never the number one star, but always right behind. And he was good for over 100 RBIs and at least 25 home runs every year. Now the power is gone. The batting average is still good, but not quite what it was. Defensively as a first baseman he is considerably better than he was as a left fielder. The Astros are in a period of change. They may not have a first sacker that produces as well as Carlos was doing even this year. But they have to find out. In return for Lee Houston received a minor league pitcher and a third baseman named Matt Dominguez. Dominguez comes right to the Astros from AAA New Orleans Thursday. A highly ranked prospect in the Marlins system he has fallen off a bit the last two seasons. How much of that can be traced to his future with the Marlins being cut off when they acquired shortstop Jose Reyes and moved Hanley Ramirez to third base is easy to speculate. Now he gets a fresh start. Defensively he is rated very strong. The man he may wind up competing for the job with the Astros, Chris Johnson, has not shown a good glove this season. Johnson has played some first base and it is conceivable, but not suggested yet by the Astros, that he may be on that side of the infield for a few games before the All Star break while Dominguez is given a look. It is still expected that Brett Wallace will be back with the club at some point, perhaps after the break. If there is a down-side to the Lee trade it is that it reportedly did not save much money. That was what the Astros had hoped to do. All indications are that Houston is still paying the bulk of the approximately nine million dollars left on his contract. Yet, at the same time, by moving Lee now the Astros can accelerate their evaluations of more players on the major league level. They know the fans are impatient. They know that many of them don't see enough improvement yet. In many cases the front office probably agrees. Carlos Lee won't be the only player to be likely dealt before the end of the month. So hold on.
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