Lance Berkman: Astros moving to AL would be “a travesty”

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Lance Berkman, who played the first 12 seasons of his career in Houston, called the Astros’ potential move to the American League “a travesty” and “a shame.”

Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Berkman, while appearing at a press conference for a memorabilia company, called the Astros “a National League franchise” and suggested that the Brewers should be the team to move because “they’re historically an American League franchise.”

He’s right about the Brewers, as they were in the AL from 1970 to 1997, but obviously previous AL membership isn’t the driving force behind the decision.

My favorite Berkman quote from the press conference:

Even when I retire and live here in Houston, I don’t want to go watch American League baseball. I’d like to have a National League team.

Between that statement and his poor production Berkman must have really hate his half-season with the Yankees.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.