With the Astros off to a 9-18 start and headed for fewer than 75 wins for the third time in four seasons, Lance Berkman said yesterday that he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause if asked. He also said that if he were running the Astros he’d probably be trying to trade himself:
If it was me and I was running the show here, if we didn’t make a great comeback like we did in ’05 and be sort of around .500 by the All-Star break, I’d try to trade every veteran I could to reload. That’s the quickest way you’re going to be able to reload and get it going in the right direction. …
I’m not saying we’re at the point where they should start pulling the plug on us, but they need to start thinking forward. If this thing keeps going like this, they’ve gotta do something. If you’re running a team, you don’t want to get caught in baseball purgatory–where you’re not really getting young and you’re not really [competing]. Where you’re in this deal where every year you’re signing a marginal veteran and you just never get in the mix.
Astros fans probably don’t want to hear that, but Berkman is right on the money. In fact, based on that very reasoned and logical quote the Astros might be better off if he were indeed “running the show.” Houston has long been stuck between contending and rebuilding–with offseason signings Pedro Feliz and Brandon Lyon clearly fitting the “marginal veteran” label–and the end result is a poor MLB team, a lacking farm system, and little short-term hope.
Berkman is making $14.5 million this season and the Astros hold a $15 million option or $2 million buyout for 2011, but the 34-year-old first baseman seems ready to move on:
As a player, if they came to me and said, “Hey, we’ve got a deal to go to a contender,” I’d take it. Heck, it’s only a three- or four-month deal. It’s not like I’m signing on for 10 years with another team. … I have been fortunate to play on at least competitive teams for most of my career, and it just stinks, you know, when you’re getting older and really want to win.
And then you kind of think, “Aw, man, how long before we win here?” This organization has been great to me. I love the Houston Astros. No matter what happens, I’m always going to be an Astro at heart. But as you get older, you definitely start to look at things like that, and you say, “How many sub-.500 seasons do you want to play?”
If general manager Ed Wade asks himself the same question part of the answer should be trading Berkman.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.
Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.
When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.
What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.
The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.
Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.