It would be a waste of time to discuss the Carlos Lee contract. We know he was overpaid and the outfielder also under performed. But this was a different era. The Astros as they are presently constructed would never have given Lee the contract he received.
Lee was probably the biggest symbol of the errs of the previous regime. So while this was completely understood, it was still incredibly frustrating to watch the overweight Lee sludge and struggle through the end of his six year contract.
All the $100 million man did was watch his waist line increase and his home run totals decrease. So honestly, it really was a pleasant surprise that Jeff Luhnow was even able to get anything last season for the free agent to be.
Matt Dominguez was the first round pick of the Marlins in 2007. Since making his professional debut, the third baseman struggled to find success at the plate despite his strong play defensively.
Over the last few seasons perhaps the only team in more of a rebuilding state than the Astros, was the Marlins. So it should not have surprised anyone when they tried to rush Dominguez to the big leagues to start the 2011 season. To be fair to Florida, he did have a very good spring training, but the minor league track record was not really there.
After 17 games and 48 plate appearances, the Dominguez experiment ended and he was sent back to AAA. In that time he hit .244 but he only drove in two runs and scored two runs without hitting any home runs. And that was the end of his time in Florida.
For the rest of 2011 the former first round pick had limited success at best. Dominguez then started 2012 back in AAA and only managed to hit .234. So when the Astros acquired the third baseman on July 4th, along with pitcher Rob Rasmussen, for Lee, expectations were low.
At the time, the Astros had Chris Johnson tearing it up at third base so there did not appear to be a need for a prospect who was not showing signs of meeting expectations. But again, getting anything for Lee was a success and he was not doing the Astros any good on their roster. So why not see if the change of scenery works out for Dominguez?
When he entered the Astros’ system, Dominguez was sent to AAA. In 45 games, he actually did pretty well and his .298 average was the best of his career. The third baseman also added two home runs and 23 RBI’s. It was at that point, that the Astros called Dominguez up to Houston.
The third baseman then continued that success in his second crack at the major leagues. In 31 games Dominguez hit .284 with 5 home runs and 16 RBI’s setting the stage for 2013.
Dominguez was one of the few Astros to start the season with just about a guaranteed job. From the power department he has not disappointed with 11 home runs. But more importantly for the Astros, the defense has been there and Dominguez is second on the team with 44 RBI’s even though he bats in the lower part of the lineup. The one problem, is that he is only batting .225.
Getting anything for Lee should be considered a success. Dominguez has actually been one of the most consistent players for the Astros this season, which is saying something.
Long term it still remains to be seen how Dominguez fits into the Astros plans. At least for the next few years it appears his job is safe as any challengers to his spot are a ways away from Houston. After that, it is still up for debate. If he picked up the batting average, then there wouldn’t be as many questions about his long term future.
Roughly one year after the trade, I have to score this one in favor of Jeff Luhnow and the Astros. He traded a player he had no use for and added a young player with potential. Can’t go wrong there.