Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes that Lance Berkman “believed he would return to the Astros in 2011 … from the moment he was traded to the Yankees last July.” However, when his agent approached general manager Ed Wade about potentially returning to Houston he was told “thanks, but no thanks.”
“It wasn’t a long conversation,” Berkman told Justice. “After initially being pretty disappointed, I’ve gotten over it. Now my focus is on who is going to contend that wants me to play for them.”
Most players let their agent do the dirty work when it comes to talking publicly about the offers they’re receiving on the open market, but Berkman cut out the middle man and told Justice that he’s had interest from the Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, A’s, Pirates, and Blue Jays. However, according to Berkman most teams are merely in the “tire-kicking” stage right now and he’s yet to receive any concrete offers “in terms of X amount of dollars.”
Berkman is 35 years old and coming off the worst season of his career, struggling for the Yankees following a mid-season trade and finishing with a sub-.800 OPS for the first time, but he maintained good on-base skills and could resume being a very dangerous hitter if his power returns even a little bit.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.