Astros general manager Ed Wade informed the agent for Lance Berkman that the club is not open to a reunion with their former slugger this offseason, according to Mark Berkman of FOX 26 in Houston.
“I heard from Mike Moye and he inquired about whether we had interest in bringing Lance back and I was candid with him and told him it didn’t fit for us,” Wade said. “As much as we love and respect Lance and what he’s done for our organization, We had these internal conversations in July when we made the decision to go ahead and move him.”
It was pretty easy to see this one coming, but the news obviously wasn’t easy for the “Big Puma” to take.
“To be honest I don’t know how I feel,” Berkman said. “I really need some time to digest it.”
Berkman, who turns 35 in February, batted just .248/.368/.413 with 14 home runs, 58 RBI and a 781 OPS in 404 at-bats between the Astros and Yankees this past season. He completely collapsed against left-handed pitching, batting just .171 with one home run and a 571 OPS over 82 at-bats, so he’ll be hard-pressed to find an everyday job this winter. The Yankees declined his $15 million option for 2011 this week, making him a free agent.
The Astros appear set at first base, whether with Carlos Lee or Brett Wallace. The 34-year-old Lee is virtually untradeable because of the $37 million owed to him over the next two seasons, so the Astros may decide to hide his defensive deficiencies at first base. He played 20 games there this season. Wallace, 24, batted just .222/.296/.319 with two homers, 13 RBI and an alarming 50/8 K/BB ratio over his first 144 major league at-bats, so he might not be ready for primetime.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.
Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.
Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.
A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.
The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.
As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.