Rangers decline Lance Berkman’s option for 2014

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Last offseason the Rangers signed Lance Berkman to a one-year, $11 million deal, but he was healthy enough to play just 73 games and hit .240 with a career-worst .700 OPS.

As expected Texas declined his $12 million option for 2014, instead giving Berkman a $1 million buyout and making him a free agent again at age 38.

Despite not hitting much and being hurt a lot for the second straight season Berkman continued to draw tons of walks and get on base at a good clip. He won’t come anywhere close to $11 million this winter, but it won’t be surprising if some contenders view him as a viable DH target.

It’s also possible that he’ll decide to retire after weighing that option last offseason.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.