The Big Puma Goes To The Big Apple
*Sorry I forgot to post this a few days ago.
After 1,648 hits, 326 home runs,
1,090 runs batted in, 1,592 games, and parts of twelve seasons, Lance “The Big
Puma” Berkman is leaving Houston to play with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez,
Mariano Rivera and the rest of the New York Yankees in the Big Apple.
It’s a bittersweet day in Houston.
On one side, the team is starting over and getting younger. On the other side,
you are losing a franchise player who played his college career (with the Rice
Owls) and pro career in Houston. Berkman has given the city of Houston so many
memories, good ones and bad ones.
Personally, I have two distinct
memories about Lance Berkman. The first autographed baseball I ever got was
Lance Berkman’s on my ninth birthday. However, In spring training of 2008,
while I was trying to get autographs, he went off the field, in a golf cart,
into the clubhouse, (the Astros clubhouse at their spring training park,
Osceola County Stadium, is on the other side of the left field fence) totally
ignoring the fans.
That day, Miguel Tejada, Jose
Valverde, Hunter Pence, and Wesley Wright, among others came a signed for the
me and the rest of the fans. I understand that fans do get a little crazy
sometimes. Ex-Astro Roy Oswalt use to only sign to small groups of fans while
with the Astros but spring training is different. Which, I understand.
Anyway, it has been a gradual
decline in power since 2006 when “Fat Elvis” hit 45 home runs. Since then, he
has hit 34, 29, 25 and 13 (in 85 games this year). And with the exception of
2008 when he drove in 106 runs his RBI totals have gone done every year since
2006 when he had 136 of them.
Now, I expect his power numbers to
increase with the dimensions of Yankees stadium and not having to face Josh
Johnson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Hallady, or Mat Latos (who has a 0.99 WHIP) along
with the rest of the National League pitchers. However, the one thing that
could make his disappointing season even more disappointing would be if he
can’t play ball in the spotlight of New York City.
In return for Berkman the Astros
are getting relief pitcher, Mark Melancon who has a career 4.87 ERA in twenty and
a third innings pitched and Jimmy Paredes, a low A infielder who is 21 years
In Melancon the Astros are getting
a righty who has not really figured it out yet. In 20.1 innings in the majors
he has allowed eleven earned runs, walked ten, hit four, and allowed twenty
Yet, he will help the terrible
bullpen (sorry Astro fans but it is true) the Astros have. The Astros current bullpen
of Matt Lindstrom, Brandon Lyon, Wilton Lopez, Tim Byrdak, Gustavo Chacin,
Nelson Figueroa, and Fernando Abad (who was just called up) has a surprising ERA
of just 3.33. Much better then I thought considering five of the seven-man
bullpen we not on the opening day roster.
However, there are eight others
(not including catcher Kevin Cash) who pitched out of the bullpen this year,
Brian Moehler (DL), Jeff Fulchino (DL), Alberto Arias (DL), Wesley Wright (SP),
Chris Sampson (not on active roster), Casey Daigle (not on 40 man roster),
Sammy Gervacio (not on 40 man roster), and Gary Majewski (not on 40 man roster)
the ERA becomes 4.85, the fourth worst in baseball. Only the Cubs, Brewers, and
Diamondbacks have a worse bullpen ERA.
Obviously, you do not know what you
are getting in Jimmy Paredes because of him playing A ball. However, Paredes
has been compared to Erick Aybar. Of the Angels. He has batted .282 with 36
stolen bases and 59 runs in 99 games with the Charleston River Dogs. I think he
will eventually play in the majors and maybe be a solid shortstop, a position that
Adam Everett, Julio Lugo, and briefly Tommy Manzella, and Miguel Tejada have
had since 2001.
Obviously, it would have been nice
to get more in return. I was though someone along the lines of Francisco
Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Colin Curtis, or even Brett Gardner or Joba Chamberlin.
With J.A. Happ, Brett Wallace, and Jonathan Villar. Obviously, I set my expectations a little to high.
The Astros probably didn’t ask for
Cervelli with Jason Castro and the Yankees most likely did not want to give him
up with Jorge Posada’s age. Ramiro Pena also probably stayed with the age of
Jeter and Pena is a solid utility infielder.
I thought the Yankees would have traded either Curtis or
Gardner with Carl Crawford expected to sign in the offseason and Carlos Lee not
exactly an all-star anymore. As for Chamberlin I never really think he was a
real possibility and on top of that the Yankees have not given up hop on him
The bottom line is that the Astros
got younger and cut payroll while the Yankees got the designated hitter/first
baseman Nick Johnson was signed to be. I am not sure any other team wanted Berkman,
which is probably why the Yankees got him so cheap.
Wallace and Braun- http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bb/7134214.html