Posted on December 6, 2010 at 9:02 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
Regular reader(s) will remember that, last week, I wrote about the possibility that Lance Berkman would become a Cardinal
. My conclusion was that it wouldn't happen and it didn't work for the Cardinals.
Yeah, this is why I don't bet actual money on anything.
As you know by now, the Cards came to terms with Berkman
over the weekend, getting him for a one-year deal worth $8 million. I spent a lot of this weekend turning this over in my mind, reading what more knowledgeable people had to say about it, and I'm still not at a definitive conclusion about it.
In my partial defense, I did write the following:
If you can get Berkman for a minimal salary, I think you probably pull the trigger. He made $14.5 million last year, though, and I can't see him settling for less than $7-$8 million with teams like Chicago in the mix as well.
It's fairly obvious that the allure of St. Louis was a big draw for Berkman. He easily could have gotten a little more security and a cushier job being a 1B/DH type for Oakland or another team, but instead he took the shorter deal that is harder work. Which also means he's motivated to make this work, because two off years in a row at his age makes getting his next contract much harder.
Berkman has also lost some weight and the Cards seem to feel confident he can play the outfield. We won't know until we see him moving around out there, but if he can handle the position at an average or better level, things should be fine.
As for his bat, you have to hope it bounces back somewhat from last year's rough spell. He had a couple of tolerable months interspersed within the season, hitting .303 in September, for example. The power wasn't there, though, and you hope that the weight loss and solid knees will help that out.
Even in his down year, though, he still had a .368 OBP. John Mozeliak is hinting he might hit second, which would be good for Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, having a better chance of coming up with someone already on base. Berkman might hit fifth, which could move Colby Rasmus to the two hole. I just hope we don't see Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker 1-2, because that's not going to help the offense at all.
In the general theory of things, I think I like the move. I'm not sure that it's the wisest use of resources, but it's not necessarily the worst one. Mozeliak says payroll is "leaking", which I'm guessing means it's so heavy that it's starting to sag and sprout holes. Which means that 1) moves are pretty much done, save a cheap bat somewhere, maybe, 2) Rasmus is safe, because even if you traded him, the odds of getting the same production back at the same payroll level are practically nonexistent and 3) for all the talk of the Cards needing a backup catcher, it seems to me that the best way to go about it is to use Bryan Anderson in that role, because he can do the job and he gets paid the league minimum.
Winter meetings are going on this week and you can't rule anything out, though the odds of the Cards making another trade or significant move are 3,720 to 1. Most likely, this is the team going north next spring. I can't say it's a bad one.
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