The Cardinals are obviously trying to settle as much family business as they can before the season ends and all efforts will have to be put into the Albert Pujols negotiations. One bit of family business they’d like settled is the matter of Lance Berkman in 2012. He has said he wants to be back. The Cardinals certainly want him back. But according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it hasn’t been smooth sailing thus far, with there existing “a difference of opinion over its worth.”
Or, as Berkman puts it:
“It’s always about money,” Berkman said. “No matter what people say, it’s always about the money.”
Berkman took what was, essentially, a make-good deal this year, dropping from his $14.5 million in 2010 to an $8 million deal. No, that’s not chicken feed and it actually strains the definition of “make-good contract,” but the fact was that he took some risk. If he had flopped in 2011, he’d have nothing to look forward to but one-year deals at around a million per, with the Reggie Sanders career path being his best case scenario.
But he made good. Both with the bat and in terms of his conditioning and defensive flexibility. He gave the Cardinals the most anyone could have expected from an age-35 Lance Berkman, and now he’d like to be paid like a dude who hit .296/.407/.550. I can’t say I blame him.
Not that Berkman is being unreasonable. According to the report, he simply wants a one-year deal without performance incentives and stuff. If I’m the Cardinals, I balk at him wanting, like, three years or something at this age. And it’s not like I’m going to pay him $15 million no matter the duration. But if he simply wants a one-year deal at the market rate for an excellent corner outfielder/first baseman approaching his latter years, I’m not sure why I wouldn’t give it to him. Because someone else certainly will.
Adam Wainwright is not a fan of the proposed strike zone changes
It’s probably not a big shocker that a pitcher is not a big fan of the strike zone being made smaller, but Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals and he tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is not a fan of the proposed changes to the strike zone we wrote about recently, calling the proposal “a horrible, horrible idea.”
Horrible, he acknowledges, because he’s a pitcher with a vested interest so, yes, let’s give Wainwright credit for self-awareness and for disclosing his self-interest. But he thinks it’s a bad idea for another reason too: more hits will lead to more balls in the gap and thus longer games.
I get the intuitive nature of that — the longer it takes to retire a side the longer games go — but it doesn’t necessarily follow that offense and game times are related in the way Wainwright implies. There was a lot more scoring in the 1990s and early 2000s and games were actually shorter then than now. Partially because of other factors (i.e. there were not quite as many pitching changes and because guys played at a faster clip). Partially, I suspect, because there were fewer strikeouts and strikeouts take a longer time than guys grounding out or having some of those balls in the gap caught on the run by a fast outfielder.
As I said last week, I suspect that we’ll see fewer balls in the gap than Wainwright implies and, rather, a lot more walks as pitchers test umpires to see if they’re really taking away that low strike. In the short term that’ll actually make games longer, though not for the reason Wainwright thinks.
SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.
Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.
Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.
The pitching match-ups aren’t at all exciting, sadly, but there are a few streaks to pay attention to tonight. Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is on a 28-game hitting streak, tying him with Wade Boggs for eighth-most in Red Sox history. Teammate Xander Bogaerts is on a 17-game hitting streak as well.
Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 31 consecutive games. And to think that owner Jeffrey Loria would have traded him during the offseason if not for manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds speaking up in favor of keeping Ozuna.
Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik got his money’s worth last night. He was ejected after arguing an automatic double play on an enforcement of the slide rule, and he didn’t go gently into that goodnight.
Rather, he threw things, kicked things, threw things and then subsequently kicked those same things, gave overly-demonstrative slides and safe signs and basically went all Earl Weaver/Lou Piniella on everyone.
Double-A baseball is the best minor league because you tend to see more prospects there than you do at Triple-A. But it’s also the best because, when you’re a manager who is not quite a heartbeat away from getting your shot at the big leagues, you’re a little less uptight about things. Or at least Mikulik was. Or maybe he was more uptight. I don’t know. He just went with it, and going with it has its charms.