Not that this is a surprising move by any stretch of the imagination following the Astros' very public pursuit of a left-handed hitting left fielder to split time with Jason Michaels, but ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that the plan in Houston is to move Carlos Lee to first base full-time.
While I’m an Ed Wade critic at heart, I think this is the smart move for the club. Brett Wallace pretty conclusively proved that he wasn’t ready the last two months of the 2010 season, and Lee’s awful range is more of a liability then his actual ability to field a baseball. According to Fangraphs, Lee actually put up very solid defensive numbers in short work at first base. While that runs into sample size problems and he didn’t look as good on the field, it makes a lot of sense for the Astros to let him work at first base and send Wallace go down and prove himself at Oklahoma City for the start of the year.
The Astros, of course, are still hoping to find a taker for Lee’s bloated contract at some point, but every bit of interest in him has been pure wishcasting so far. The team will probably be better served letting him rebuild his value with an eye towards a deadline deal, thus letting the injury bug go to work opening up some spots around the league where he’d make sense. The club would also have less total dollars remaining on his contract in the (likely) event that they’d have to pick up most of it if they waited.