Lance Berkman Suggests the Astros Should Consider Trading Him
Lance Berkman told Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle that he'd be open to waiving his no-trade clause if the team asked. Berkman even put on his general manager's cap and told Solomon exactly what he'd do if he was in charge of running the team.
"If it was me and I was running the show here, if we didn't make a great comeback like we did in '05 and be sort of around .500 by the All-Star break, I'd try to trade every veteran I could to reload," Berkman said. "That's the quickest way you're going to be able to reload and get it going in the right direction. As a player, if they came to me and said, 'Hey, we've got a deal to go to a contender,' I'd take it. Heck, it's only a three- or four-month deal. It's not like I'm signing on for 10 years with another team."
"If you're running a team, you don't want to get caught in baseball purgatory - where you're not really getting young and you're not really (competing). Where you're in this deal where every year you're signing a marginal veteran and you just never get in the mix."
You don't need to look to long at the Astros roster to see evidence of the marginal veteran approach that the Astros have taken under Ed Wade's stewardship. Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Kaz Matsui and Brett Myers all have their uses but they don't do much to excite you as the core of a team. While signing all of those players, the Astros have allowed their farm system to lay fallow and created a situation where there's little hope in either the short or long term.
Berkman was careful to say that he loves being a member of the organization while wondering aloud if he'll ever get a chance to play for something more meaningful than an 81st win while in Houston. When you're 34 and playing for an 8-19 team, it's a reasonable question.
The biggest problem for Berkman could be where he'd go in a trade. His contract is reasonable enough for a rental, $14.5 million this year with a $2 million buyout or $15 million option in 2011, but there are other factors. He's coming off of knee surgery and first basemen aren't in tremendous demand among contenders. For teams that do want to add a player at that position, Adrian Gonzalez and, potentially, Prince Fielder are younger options.
They'd cost more in terms of prospects, however, and that might make a team like the Giants interested in seeing what it would take to pry Berkman away from Houston. He's just old enough that Brian Sabean might be interested in buying the next four years of his career. A handful of AL teams come to mind too, but the Red Sox have to figure out what they're doing with David Ortiz and it's a bit too soon to know whether the A's, Rangers or Mariners are in the mix and/or willing/able to pay the freight.
If Berkman's knee proves sound, however, Wade should heed his player's advice and see what's out there in a deal. While he's at it he should see if there's any interest in Carlos Lee and Roy Oswalt because there's just as little reason to keep them around when the team should be focused on building for the future.