The Big Puma is poised to move on

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Lance Berkman headshot.jpgSo he tells Bernando Fallas of the Houston Chronicle:

“I may have to, whether I like it or not,” Berkman said Wednesday as
the Astros’ held their first full-squad workout. “It may come down to a
situation where if things don’t go well they don’t pick up my option,
then I probably won’t be back.”

Berkman, a former first-round pick of Houston in 1997, is entering the final year of a six-year, $85 million contract. The 34-year-old first baseman was limited to just 136 games last season
due to a calf injury that required a 20-day stint on the disabled list. While he still got on base at a .399 clip, Berkman batted a career-low .274 with just 25 home runs
and 80 RBI.

Nobody would argue that the Astros haven’t had an excellent return on their investment, as Berkman certainly qualifies as one of the most underrated players of the past decade. However, after an underwhelming 2009 season, they are unlikely to pick up his $15 million option ($2 million buyout) for 2011 unless he rebounds in a significant way and stays off the disabled list.
 

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.