Tag Archives: Berkman

Berkman, Burnett and more

Not much news on the Yankees front, but a couple former Yanks are in the news.

Lance Berkman, who was briefly with the Yanks in 2010, announced his retirement. Berkman, who mostly played with Houston, retires with a .293 career batting average and with 366 HR. Only three switch-hitters hit more HR in their career than Berkman—Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, and Chipper Jones.

A.J. Burnett, a free agent, decided not to retire. Burnett was with the Pirates last season. He had spent three years (2009-2011) with the Yankees. Word is that the Phillies are interested. They are looking to replace the retired Roy Halladay.

The Yanks did sign a teenage pitching star from Australia. It’s too hard to get to excited about someone 17 though. Time will tell if he makes it.

Matt Garza went to the Brewers, but besides Burnett, other pitchers still out there are Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jiminez, and Bronson Arroyo. Johan Santana is out there if he has anything left and if someone wants to take a chance on him. Paul Maholm and Fernando Rodney are also out there.

Position players out there are Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz and Stephen Drew.

The Yanks are probably done. I can see a minor-league signing, but nothing major after all they have done so far.

Waiting for the Super Bowl, as you are….

No return of Fat Elvis

Even though the Yanks are looking for a DH, and Lance Berkman was available, there will be no return of “Fat Elvis” to the Bronx.

Berkman spent some time with the Yanks in 2010, hitting .255-1-9 in 37 games, OPS+ 90. 2010 was a rough year for Berkman, who had some injury issues and who only hit .248-14-58, OPS+ 112 that year. He rebounded in 2011 for the World Champion Cardinals, hitting .301-31-94, OPS+ 164, and was an All-Star and finished 7th in the MVP balloting. He played 1B and the corner OF spots.

But in 2012, Berkman had knee trouble again, and was limited to 32 games, hitting .259-2-7, OPS+ 126. For his career, the switch-hitting Berkman is a .296 hitter with an OPS+ of 146. His 162 game average is .296-32-108. He has 360 career HR—two more than Yogi and one less than Joe D. He has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting six times.

Berkman is also good friends with Andy Pettitte, with whom he was a teammate 2004-2006 and in 2010.

But the lure of his home state kept Berkman home. Berkman, a Texan, signed a deal with the Rangers. For most of his career, he was an Astro.

Although Berkman will be 37 next month, the switch-hitter would have been a fit at DH for the Yanks, especially if he could still play the field (1B/LF/RF) occasionally. But the contract Texas gave Berkman—one year, $11 MM with an option for 2014—was probably way more than the Yanks were willing to go. The Yanks apparently had some interest, but my guess is that they want someone on a deal like Raul Ibanez had last year—$1.1 MM with incentives. Heck, Chavez got $900K from the Yanks, Andruw Jones $1.5 MM. My guess is that if Berkman fell into that bracket, then the Yanks would scoop him up. But Texas’ offer blew the Yanks out of the water.

Maybe the Yanks are still looking for a DH in that money bracket.

Jim Thome, 42, is still out there. That lefty bat does intrigue me. You can only imagine what Thome could have done with that short porch in his prime. Even without the short porch, Thome has 612 career HR. But Thome will be 43 in August, has no speed on the base paths and can’t play the field. If only Thome can prove he can still play 1B or 3B, but he’s only played in nine games in the field since 2005.

Thome hit .252-8-25 in 163 at bats in 2012. For his career, his 162 g. average is .276-39-108. He does strikeout a lot, but he also draws a lot of walks. (He’s the active leader in both categories). His 162 g. average is 111 walks and 162 K.

In the last three years, Thome has made $1.5 MM, $3 MM and $1.25 MM.

The Yanks have an aging team already. I’m leery of getting a 42-year-old who can’t play the field.

But his lefty bat is intriguing, and maybe his price range is, too.

Even though I’m leery of Thome, would it surprise me if the Yanks signed him? No.

If they did, they would be the first team with two active 600 HR guys on it (he and A-Rod).

You just wonder if they are then sacrificing youth and winning for age and milestones.

Thome: 612 HR. 1699 RBI.
A-Rod:  647 HR. 2901 hits. 1950 RBI (active leader in HR and RBI). With A-Rod going to be out for half the season, it doesn’t look like he’ll get the 14 HR to pass Willie Mays or the 99 hits for 3000. He could get RBI #2000 though.
Jeter: 3304 hits (active leader). He could get close to 3500 this year. Heck, if he has a year like he had in 2012, he could get #3500 this year.
Rivera: 608 saves (all-time leader). #650?
Pettitte: 245 wins. #250 should come this year.
Ichiro: 2606 hits (MLB only; added to Japan, it’d be over 3800).
Sabathia: 191 wins. #200 should come in mid-summer.

In addition, could Curtis Granderson become the ONLY Yankee other than Babe Ruth to hit 40 or more HR in three consecutive years? Ruth did it from 1926-1932.

Happy New Year! Things are quiet….

As we usher in the New Year of 2013, things have been quiet in Yankeeland.

There are no hot rumors of trades or signings as we still wonder who will be the Yanks’ catcher and DH in 2013, not to mention who’ll fill out the bench.

A couple aging Hall-of-Famers are coming off major injuries (Jeter, Rivera) and another (?; steroid abuse, Alex) will miss half the year if not more because of an operation.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of free agents still available. None of the major ones really fit the Yankees needs, and with the Yanks cutting back on spending, the $$$ isn’t there for them.

Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano are still out there. Soriano could be a fit, only because he went 2-1, 2.26 with 42 saves in filling in for the injured Rivera last year. But Soriano probably wouldn’t want to go back to the setup role he was unhappily doing in 2011. But after a strong year, it’s interesting that he opted out and still is unsigned.

Boston has been talking to Adam LaRoche, since the Napoli deal may fall through.

Shaun Marcum and Joe Saunders are out there. So are Jose Valverde and Delmon Young.

Young is a righty bat, which the Yanks could use, and a .284 hitter. He was the ALCS MVP vs. the Yanks last year. Although his 162 g. average is .284-16-89, his OPS+ is just 98 due to a poor BB/K ratio. (27/115).

There is still Scott Hairston. There’s Thome or Berkman.

There’s …. (fill in the blank).

But it appears the Yanks are “dumpster-diving.” Who they pick up between now and the start of spring training (and it’s getting closer), who knows?

As of now, who will  be the C, DH or bench?

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has gone up 2%… and that’s just from all the NFL coaches and GMs being fired. Black Monday indeed.

 

Swisher to Indians

We knew Nick Swisher wasn’t going to be coming back as a Yankee, but we just wondered where he’d wind up. Baltimore? Dodgers? Phillies?

With the Indians trade of Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, a spot opened up in Cleveland for the former Buckeye, and Swisher is headed there. Swisher and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame do seem to mesh. The Yankees haven’t been giving out multi-year deals (except to the 39 yr. old Ichiro) and Swish got a 4-yr., $56 MM deal with the Tribe, with a $14 MM vesting option for a fifth year.

As for the Yankees’ holes, we can only wonder if Cashman has a trade forthcoming. As of now, here are the options, internally.

OF: The OF right now has Granderson, Gardner and Ichiro. Chris Dickerson could backup, but he’s another lefty bat. They need a righty bat. They’d like Scott Hairston, who’ll be 33 next year, can play all three OF positions as well as 2B. Hairston, who spent 2012 with the Mets, is looking for a multi-year deal (aren’t they all?) and that may be a deal-breaker. He hit .263-20-57, OPS+ 117 for the Mets in 2012 and is a .247 career hitter, OPS+ 100. Average player, but has pop. 162 g. ave: .247-20-58.

Internal options could be Melky Mesa, 26 next year who was 1 for 2 with an RBI in a brief September callup last year. Mesa hit .264-23-67 between AA/AAA last year with 22 SB. He provides some athleticism and speed that’s sorely needed but you wonder if he is ready. He’s only had 33 games at AAA (.230-9-21) and that .230 average makes you wonder. Also, at age 26, he’d be an old rookie. He’s mostly played CF and RF.

They also could give Ronnier Mustelier a shot. The 28-yr. old defector from Cuba hit .314-15-69 with 10 SB between AA/AAA last year. But unlike Mesa, Mustelier got more time at AAA and did well (89 games, .303-10-49) and probably has an upper hand. Mustelier has spent time at LF, RF and also 3B. He’s also played a couple games at 2B and CF. This may be to his advantage as he tries to make the team. He hasn’t been invited to major league camp yet. That should change. I was surprised he wasn’t brought up last year. I wanted him to replace Andruw Jones last midseason. Heck, Jones (now to play in Japan), hit only .197 last year. After the ASG he was just .142-3-12. You would think Mustelier could have done better than that.

In 150 minor league games, Mustelier has a .324-18-96 line with 19 SB. I’d give him a shot at that righty-hitting, backup OF job.

As for DH, who knows? Ibanez and Jones are both gone. Maybe it’d be best to DH Jeter the first half of the year because he’s coming off that fractured ankle. It’d be nice to see Nunez get some playing time. He, Ichiro and Gardner could provide a speed dimension to the club that was sorely lacking last year. The problem is, with the catching situation (I’ll get to that in a bit), where will the power come from, esp. with A-Rod out for half the year? Having a weak-hitting C in the lineup, along with Ichiro, Nunez AND Gardner means not much pop at all.

Not only that, but if Jeter DH’s and Nunez plays SS, you wonder about Nunez’ defense. Jeter’s range is not the greatest, has been criticized for years. and could be worse after the injury. But at least he is sure-handed, unlike Nunez.

Nunez, 26 next year, has just an 88 OPS+, but he’s interesting because his 162 g. average is .272-6-43 with 34 SB. But Cashman says he’s just a SS, and not a utility guy.

I really wonder if the Yanks should just go with Nix as the utility IF and trade Nunez while Nunez’ value is high. Nix can play 2B, SS and 3B and some OF. He hit just .243-4-18 last yr., OPS+ 86 and is just .214 with an OPS+ of 75 in his career. He doesn’t have the speed of Nunez but is more sure-handed.

They have to find a way to utilize Nunez and his speed, or trade him.

Of course, once A-Rod returns from his hip surgery, it may be in the Yanks’ best interest to DH Alex (not to stress the hip) and keep Youkilis at 3B. By then, hopefully Jeter won’t need as many DH at bats and his ankle is fully recovered. Time will tell.

But there is now the question of power. Cano, Granderson and Teixeira (switch-hitter) provide pop, but you lost lefty power in Ibanez and Swisher. So what kind of lefty-hitting DH is there?

I can’t see it being Dickerson, 31 next year. The Yanks probably want someone more experienced. Dickerson has 518 MLB at bats, .266-11-47 with 27 SB. OPS+ 101. He probably deserves a shot somewhere but the Yanks already have three lefty-hitting OF. Outside of DH, he wouldn’t have a chance to play, not with the starting OF of Ichiro, Gardner and Granderson. He hit .316-7-25, 17 SB in 69 AAA games last year. I just can’t see a DH platoon of Dickerson/Nunez, although both would provide more athleticism and speed.

Two DH options out there with pop are two old guys. You know I’m not big on getting older.

One is Lance Berkman, who, as a switch-hitter, would be a good option. You don’t want two DH-only types on your team. If you can just have one, who switch-hits and can DH every day, that’s a good thing (think Chili Davis in 1999). Berkman is good friends with Andy Pettitte, and was with the Yanks in 2010.

However “Fat Elvis” didn’t exactly do that well his first time in the Bronx. the 1B/OF hit just .255-1-9 in 106 AB (37 games), OPS+ 90 in 2010. He did go 5 for 16, 1 HR, 4 RBI in the postseason that year for the Yanks.

Berkman did have a rebound season in 2011, winning a WS ring with St. Louis, hitting .301-31-94, OPS+ 164 and finishing 7th in the MVP voting. But last year he played in just 32 games, getting only 81 at bats, hitting .259-2-7, OPS+ 126.

If healthy, Berkman could be decent one-year option at age 37. His 162 g. average is .296-32-108, OPS+ 146. He has 360 career HR (two more than Yogi, one less than Joe D.) and that 162 g. average includes 104 walks. He has a good eye, and along with Youkilis, would give the Yanks some good at bats, lots of walks and help wear pitchers out. He is a 6x All-Star, and has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting six times.

But is he healthy? Is there anything left in his tank? We’ve seen the fading Berkman before he resurrected himself in 2011. Can he put up decent numbers again or was 2011 the last hurrah (FYI, Berkman’s 2011 WS was superb: 11 for 26).

The other option would be Jim Thome. Thome’s big body and lefty swing along with the short porch make you wonder what he could have done playing in Yankee Stadium his whole career. But Thome is 42, 43 next August. He’d strictly DH vs. righty pitching and while Berkman can probably still play a game at 1B or in a corner OF spot occasionally, Thome cannot play the field anymore. He’s played just nine games in the field since 2005.

While it would be interesting to see the first set of teammates wherein each teammate has over 600 HR (Alex 647, Thome 612), you wonder about the lumbering Thome.

He still had something left in 2012, hitting .252-8-25 in 163 at bats for the Phils and Baltimore. His OPS+ was 112. On a one-year deal, he might be ok. But he can’t play the field and hasn’t had 300 AB’s in a season since 2009.

His 162 g. average is .276-39-108, OPS+ 147 with 111 walks.

You wonder if Berkman or Thome on a one-year option would be a path the Yankees might take.

If so, I probably would prefer Berkman. Switch-hitter, can probably fill in in the field more.

You also wonder if Nunez could be trade bait, esp. if the Yanks could get some help for him. Besides Nix, maybe one of these two in-house minor leaguers could be a backup IF:

David Adams: 26 next May. His ankle injury made Seattle scrap the Cliff Lee to the Yankees deal a few years ago. Adams, 26 next May, hit .306-8-48 in 86 games at AA in 2012 but the 2b/3B (mostly 2b) hasn’t played a game above the AA level.

Corban Joseph is 24 and a lefty bat (unlike Adams, who bats righty). Joseph does have 84 games of AAA experience, .266-13-56. Nice numbers. He hit .276-15-62 in 107 games in 2012, AA/AAA. Like Adams, 2B/3B, mostly at 2B.

As for catcher, who knows. Cervelli, Stewart, Romine (24, and with just 21 games of AAA experience) and Bobby Wilson. Cervelli is the best hitter of the bunch, but probably the worst defender. Cervelli has 490 MLB at bats, .271-5-71, OPS+ 84. Romine is just 3 for 19 as a major leaguer, and as mentioned, just 21 AAA games. Stewart hit .241-1-13, OPS+ 67 in 141 at bats for the Yanks last year but is a .217 hitter with an OPS+ of 61 in 351 career at bats. Wilson hit .211-3-13, OPS+ 63 for the Angels in 2012 and is just a .208 career hitter in 389 at bats, OPS+ 67.

You wonder what catchers may be available. I also wonder if Nunez may be the trade bait to get that catcher.

The problem is, Nix then becomes your backup SS. Adams & Joseph have some nice minor league numbers, but neither has played SS.

Are you asking about Ramiro Pena? He signed with the Braves. Of course, Pena couldn’t hit…

I’m wondering what moves the Yanks will be making. They will need to make some… and soon.

Cards force Game 7 with dramatic 10-9, 11th inning win

In one of the greatest games I have ever seen, the St. Louis Cardinals forced Game 7 with a 10-9, 11th inning win on a walk-off HR by David Freese.

Texas got a Josh Hamilton RBI single in the first to go up 1-0. St. Louis came right back with a 2-Run HR by Lance Berkman.

Ian Kinsler’s ground-rule double tied it in the second.

Both teams scored in the fourth, and both teams made errors that helped the other team score. There were five errors in the game.

Texas got a run in the fifth, helped by another error. St. Louis tied it in the sixth, helped by… you guessed it… an error.

Texas got three in the seventh, and the Series appeared over. Back-to-back HR by Beltre and Cruz, combined with a Kinsler RBI single, made it 7-4 Rangers.

Allen Craig HR’d in the 8th to make it 7-5, and things got great.

With one out in the ninth, Pujols doubles and Berkman walked. After Craig struck out, Freese was down to his last strike. One strike away were the Rangers from winning the WS. Freese tied the game with a triple.

Texas came back with two in the top of the 10th on a 2-run HR by Hamilton. St. Louis appeared dead….again.

Nope.

Two singles and a sac bunt put runners on 2nd and 3rd, one out. Theriot grounded out, run scores. 9-8, but two out. Int. walk to Pujols, but Berkman, WITH THE CARDS AGAIN ONE STRIKE AWAY FROM LOSING THE SERIES, singles to tie the game.

In the 11th, Freese hits a walk-off HR to win the game for St. Louis 10-9 and force tonight’s Game 7.

Wow.

2011 WS Game 4. Rangers even series behind Holland, Napoli.

Derek Holland pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings and combined with Neftali Perez on a two-hit shutout as the Texas Rangers evened up the World Series at two wins apiece with a 4-0 victory.

One day after scoring 16 runs, the Cardinals attack was just about dead. Both St. Louis hits were by Lance Berkman.

The big blow for the Rangers was a 3-run HR in the sixth by Mike Napoli. Earlier, Josh Hamilton had a first-inning RBI double.

I’m watching some NFL and college football now, of course. Happy my Steelers are 5-2, but a big game awaits next week. They are home vs. New England. Meanwhile Penn St. is #21 (19 BCS) & 7-1, but they have Illinois (home), #13 Nebraska (home) @ Ohio St. and #12 Wisconsin (home) coming up.

2011 WS: Cards take Game 1, 3-2.

In a good game, the Cardinals captured Game 1 of the 2011 WS, 3-2 over the Rangers.

Allen Craig’s PH RBI single in the 6th was the game winner. The Cards went up 2-0 early on a Berkman double. Napoli later tied it with a 2-run HR for Texas.

It will be interesting to see how the Bengals/Raiders Palmer trade works out.

In Yankees news, they declined the option on Damaso Marte, who missed all of this year. A no-brainer. Marte hardly ever pitched for the Yanks after they acquired him, and his regular season stats, let’s be honest, sucked.

BUT… and it’s a big BUT… he owned Ryan Howard in the 2009 WS. You have to give him that much.