Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Is it Time for the New Travis Lee?

Long before anybody ever heard of Mark Teixeira and his $10 million signing bonus, there was another first baseman who signed for $10 million, an astonishing sum at that time in 1996. His name was Travis Lee, and his potential was thought to be so great that the Diamondbacks reached deep, deep into their shallow pockets to get him. And so with the stroke of a pen, Lee was financially set for life. Since then Lee has been roundly criticized as unmotivated, indifferent and aloof, unwilling to work to develop his skills and disinterested in excelling. His stock fell so low that last year, even though they desperately needed a first baseman, the Yankees barely utilized him and let him walk at the end of the season. When Lee signed with Tampa Bay this spring, there was no certainty that he would make the team. Some predicted that he might be lucky merely to win a platoon spot. Now enters the new Travis Lee. At the end of the first week of the season his average topped .280 and he was among the league leaders with three homers, more big flies than he had most of last year until he hit his third in August. Have Travis Lee's ears been ringing? At 30 has he finally decided to apply himself, pull himself out of the muck, stop letting the bullies kick sand in his face at the beach? Well, uh, no, don't hold your breath.