The Astros traded first baseman Lance Berkman to the Yankees on Friday night for right-hander Mark Melancon and infield prospect Jimmy Paredes. Berkman went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his debut as the Yanks’ new designated hitter on Saturday, but most people like the fit and believe he will be plenty productive for the 27-time World Series champs as they try for their 28th. Of course, everyone has a different opinion, and that’s why we play this “What They Are Saying About…” game.
- As Craig pointed out early Saturday morning, SI.com’s Jeff Pearlman thinks that Berkman is not “meant for New York” because he is an “off-the-charts right-winger” and because he has spent most of his adult life in the state of Texas. Of course, that has nothing to do with baseball and it seems like political conversations can be easily avoided in a major league locker room.
- Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News writes that the Yankees’ trade deadline moves, including the additions of Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns, scream of “insecurity.” Lupica calls them “sidebars” to Roy Oswalt, who he thinks would have been the real catch.
- FanGraphs’ David Golebiewski thinks that Berkman’s production at the plate “should pick up” in the cozy confines of the new Yankee Stadium, “though not to the level of his glory days.” No surprise there. He is 34, after all.
- Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle says that the Berkman trade “put an end to the Astros as they were known to half a generation of fans.” He’s probably right, and it’s hard to see that as a bad thing. The ‘Stros got younger this trade deadline and they also shrunk their payroll — two things that needed to be done in order to ensure a quality future.
- Joseph Pawlikowski of the Yankees blog River Ave. Blues notes that Berkman has “gotten better from May through July,” and is now hitting with more power while also drawing more walks. If he can play to his full potential, Pawlikowski writes, Berkman may be “the complete package in New York: a lefty who can spray the ball the other way but still take it over the short porch.”
The new Yankees DH is batting .242/.367/.430 on the season with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 302 at-bats. He had a .221/.388/.494 batting line in the month of July. The Yankees, meanwhile, are two games ahead of the Rays in the American League East with a MLB-best 66-37 record.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.