Astros owner Jim Crane met with Lance Berkman

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We learned a couple of weeks ago that the Astros were going to reach out to Lance Berkman to investigate his interest as joining them as their DH.  Now they have reached out, reports Mark Berman of MyFoxHouston.com:

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane told FOX 26 Sports he met last week with free agent first baseman Lance Berkman.

“We had a chat in my office,” Crane said. “He was just seeing where we were at. He expressed some interest in maybe working a deal out.  “We haven’t gotten to that (discuss contract). I think his knee is still up in the air. So we got to get that all worked out. It was a get-acquainted meeting, really.”

With the new logo and stuff there is a definite “get the band back together” vibe coming from Houston.  And moving to the AL, the Astros do need someone who can DH.  Whether Berkman — a man who just recently said that the AL was a “Mickey Mouse league” because of the DH — is that guy remains to be seen.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.