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.