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Updated: August 19, 2010, 11:46 AM ET

Derrek Lee's move to Atlanta the right one

Olney By Buster Olney
ESPN
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The first proposed trade that the Cubs brought to Derrek Lee was to the Angels, and by the time Lee mulled that over in the third week of July, the Angels -- in spite of their extraordinary history -- were buried deep in the AL West standings. For Lee, at age 34, it was not the kind of sure thing he needed to justify uprooting his family and moving in the middle of the season.

[+] EnlargeDerrek Lee
Russell Lansford/Icon SMIDerrek Lee's numbers have improved in the second half, and the Braves should benefit from having him.

But over the past 24 hours, Lee was presented with another opportunity -- a deal to a first-place team, with the kind of rotation and bullpen good enough to succeed in October, and with a manager that just about everybody wants to play for in Bobby Cox. This time, he jumped at the chance.

And at a time when the Braves are trying to make up for the offense they will no longer get from Chipper Jones, they jumped for a veteran who struggled early in the year but is now clearly trending upward. Lee had a .706 OPS in June, with a .237 batting average in 93 at-bats, but he hit .281 in July and has generated a 1.075 OPS for the month of August, mashing two doubles and four homers in 36 at-bats.

Troy Glaus had fared well for the Braves before the All-Star break, but his on-base percentage has plummeted to .304 since the break, and undoubtedly, Lee will represent a significant upgrade over Glaus defensively. Assuming that Glaus will now get the bulk of his playing time coming off the Atlanta bench, he will give Cox a dangerous power option that opposing managers and pitchers will have to respect in close games.

Lee was part of the Florida Marlins club that won the World Series in 2003; he knows what it takes to win. He decided that the Angels were not close enough for his liking. But the Braves … well, that's a different story, and a different journey for a respected veteran.

Stephen Oh of Accuscore assessed the value of the Braves' deal for Lee and determined that he likely will have a solid impact on Atlanta. With the addition of Lee, the Braves improve their chances of winning the division title by 5.6 percent:

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and an analyst for "Baseball Tonight." Read his daily ESPN.com blog here.

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