Cubs’ rebuilding plan takes a hit as Lee refuses to accept trade

Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee walks out ont the field at the beginning of the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 1, 2010. The Reds won 3-2 in 10 innings.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

Things can’t get much worse for the Cubs right now. They’re currently nine games below .500, 9.5 games out of first place in a weak NL Central and I hear Lou Piniella also forgot to reorganize his Netflix queue and is now stuck with “Dear John” again after he just rented it from Blockbuster.

But much to the elation of the Cubs’ front office, Derrek Lee is hitting .292 this month after batting a crisp .237 in June. That’s good news for the soon-to-be-rebuilding Cubs because that makes Lee a little more attractive to potential trade suitors. He might still be hitting like Neifi Perez, but he isn’t Todd Hundley at the moment either.

I’m not around Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry enough (or at all for that matter) to know what his plans are at the trade deadline, but one can only assume that he’d like to unload Lee seeing as how the first baseman won’t be a part of the club’s future plans. His contract runs up at the end of the year, so if Hendry can acquire a couple of prospects in exchange for Lee, I’d have to imagine he’d pull the trigger.

That is, of course, unless Lee refuses to accept a trade, which according to ESPNChicago.com appears to be the case.

The Los Angeles Angels proposed a trade to the Cubs over the past 10 days for Lee, according to a major league source. But Lee turned down the deal as is his right because he has been in the league for 10 years and five with the same team. He then told the team he wants to play out the last year of his Cubs contract, Hendry said. The 34-year-old also has a no-trade clause.

At first glance, it’s surprising that Lee wouldn’t want to escape the Cubs and re-join the pennant race this year. He certainly has a better chance to play in the postseason if he leaves and it’s highly unlikely that he’ll return to Chicago next year, so why not accept a trade?

That said, look at the team he could have wound up with. The Angels are 8.5 games back of Texas in the AL West, so who’s to say that he stands a better chance with them than the Cubs this year? I’m certainly not suggesting that the Cubs are on the same level as the Halos, but it’s not like the Rangers are going to release the stranglehold they currently have on the West anytime soon. Plus, Lee would have to change leagues, which maybe he’s highly against.

Nobody outside of Lee and those close to him know for sure what his motives are for staying. But either way, this isn’t a good situation for the Cubs or their future. They need to rebuild and trading Lee could have been a step in the right direction.

Oh, well.

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