TRAVIS LEE IS NICK JOHNSON'S NEW YORK LIFE
Lee, the 2nd overall pick in the 1996 amateur draft, was supposed to have been the next great first-baseman in major league baseball in the late 1990's. And, for a time, it looked as though he was going to be just that. A year after hitting 32 homers in his first professional campaign, Lee batted .268-22-72 as a rookie for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Since then, he's had a couple of decent years, but overall, his career has been a bust.
Last year, Lee hit .224-11-31 for Tampa Bay. You know you're at the end of your career when you sign a minor league deal that will play out only if your team's star first-baseman isn't healthy and their top prospect won't hit during spring training.
Like I said, it's a positive move by Jim Bowden, but I've got to say that I'm a little surprised by his reasoning. "Nick Johnson is hurt..." began Bowden, and he's absolutely right. We wanted to believe that Nick could return by opening day so badly that we didn't consider the obvious, that Johnson might not be 100% healthy until the all-star break. But then Bowden finished by saying, "and Larry Broadway is not hitting in winter ball."
Larry Broadway has played 500 games in the minor leagues and has amassed 1771 at-bats, garnering a .284 career minor league average. Prior to that, the lanky left-hander batted .327 in three seasons at Duke University.
And yet, with all of that evidence showing Broadway can hit, Bowden is going to make a move based on a few at-bats in a single season of winter ball?
If the Washington Nationals are indeed committed to "the plan," then Nick Johnson's injury was perfectly timed. Larry Broadway deserves the chance to get those 100 or so at bats to prove - one way or the other - if he is a major league first baseman.
Lee is a good insurance policy in case something happens to Broadway, but the only way he should lose the chance to play is if he breaks his leg too.
The plan is the plan is the plan.
I agree with you that the Lee signing was a good one. I think what Bodes meanth by the comment was that Broadway and Lee will compete for the backup 1B spot in Viera -- which is a good thing.