Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 5/18/12
It has been fashionable for a certain segment of Houston baseball fans to bemoan the fact that Carlos Lee is still an Astro... or that he ever was signed as an Astro in the first place. They are no doubt influenced by his large contract that runs out after this season. But make no mistake about it. Carlos Lee has been a valuable Astro even if some feel he is not worth the dollars his contract calls for. And he is also a good person. As a ballplayer Lee has driven in 100 or more runs in three of his five Astro seasons so far. He has averaged about 26 homers and hit over .300 three times. He has been productive. Certainly as he has aged his numbers have declined. He will be 36 years old next month. Yet in some ways he may be more valuable now that at any point in his Houston career. For one thing his move from left field to first base has worked out wonderfully. Lee is an above average defender at the initial sack. He was never that as a left fielder. Because he is in closer to the action he is far more a part of the game and game plan. Just watch him closely. He is offering suggestions and comments to his less experienced teammates. He is having fun and his performance on short hopped throws or hard liners down the line has been superb. As a hitter he has lost some of his power, but not much of his ability to put his bat on the ball. After a strong road trip to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and a three hit game against the Brewers back in Minute Maid Park on Wednesday he was back over .300 for the year. The Astros have a number of players trying to establish themselves in the major leagues this year. Lee is already established and it shows. He also is more than willing to talk baseball with the youngsters, passing on whatever he can about being successful in the major leagues. As a person Lee prefers to be out of the media spotlight. Whenever he has a great game, as he did Wednesday, I know what I have in store for myself to get him in front of the FSHouston postgame camera. I will have to find him in the Astro congratulations line and while telling him we want to talk with him hear him complain about it. At the same time I have my chest pushing him in the direction of our set up. All along he is urging us to get going... quicker, quicker. It is all part of the Carlos Lee act. Since I have been around as long as I have I find it challenging and fun. My radio counterparts, Dave Raymond and Brett Myers have more problems. Carlos hates to hang around and to get him to stick around long enough to also do a postgame radio interview is often a real trick. The rest of the media sometimes has to wait past deadlines to hear from Carlos in the clubhouse after games. Admittedly it can get quite frustrating, but it is Carlos Lee. If he makes himself available he is a good interview. The thing is we all know that is Carlos. He is not a bad guy at all. Many times I will go days and days between even saying hello to the big guy. He keeps a schedule different from what those of us involved in pregame and postgame shows. He is far more likely to appear on an Astros Live pregame show as an interview from the road than at home. He is more accessible away from home. It is quite likely Carlos Lee will at best only play the rest of the season in Houston. His contract will be up by then. If he does not agree to a trade before the deadline to a contender fans will probably say good-bye to Carlos then. Some will say, "Good Riddance." Those people will be wrong. Lee has been a good Astro and a good guy, too.
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