The Athletics have been mighty busy so far this offseason, but general manager Billy Beane is still on a mission to find a power bat for a team that finished second from the bottom in the league in home runs and slugging percentage this past season. With that in mind, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com hears that the A’s have interest in free agent Lance Berkman as a potential designated hitter.
Berkman, who turns 35 in February, batted .248/.368/.413 with 14 homers and 58 RBI in 404 at-bats between the Astros and Yankees this past season. He has traditionally been better against right-handed pitching in the past, but the disparity was never more apparent than in 2010, as he batted just .171 with one home run and a 517 OPS against left-handed pitching.
There’s countless examples of players like Berkman, who have “old man skills” and fade into their late-30s. The game isn’t especially kind to such players right now. As a result, he’s probably going to have accept a one-year deal with a low guarantee this winter. Fortunately for teams like the A’s, this makes him a potential bargain should he bounce back.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.