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Could Derrek Lee Keep Atlanta Out Of The Playoffs?

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In Derrek Lee's last series as a Chicago Cub, the veteran first baseman went 5-for-15, with five runs scored, four RBI and four home runs. No doubt, this three-game production cemented Atlanta's interest, putting any injury-related questions in the rear-view mirror.

Seventeen games later, Lee looks like a completely different player - and not just because of the uniform. The career .282 hitter is barely outreaching Mendoza (.208). He hasn't left the yard a single time, and every one of his measly seven RBI has come in either a loss or a blow-out win. His only tangible effects have been negative, culminating in Tuesday's Glausian one-out, bases-loaded double play.

Meanwhile, as the Braves look up in the division for the first time since May, Lee's presence blocks a bevy of hitters - Eric Hinske and rookie Freddie Freeman are losing starts at first, and Brooks Conrad could fill in at third while Martin Prado shifts across the diamond. It's hard to imagine any of these players would be without an RBI in seven September starts, as Lee is.

Perhaps the stigma of second place is enough for the Braves to make a switch, or at least turn first base into a platoon. Give Lee's 35-year-old legs a break, get the kid some regular looks, and let Hinske crush left-handers (he's hitting .381 against 'em this year). Otherwise, August's much heralded acquisition could keep the club home in October.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.