(St. Louis 12/8/10) The St. Louis Cardinals recent acquisition of Lance Berkman just doesn’t make sense with what this club wants to achieve. The Redbirds need consistency in the outfield and I just don’t see Berkman adding that to the club.
In the last five seasons he has only played a total of 73 games in the outfield and its been six seasons since he played 100 games in the outfield. Other teams pursued him as a first basemen and a DH but the Redbirds for some reason decided to give him the option to be an outfielder again.
Berkman, who is 34 signed a deal for 8 million dollars with no incentives. He weighs in around 212 and the Cardinals are going to have to put him through a rigorous training schedule to get him in shape to patrol right field. They also have to take into account that he is a little over a year removed from knee surgery as well so there has to be concern about injuries to that knee.
The bigger reason the Redbirds were attracted to Berkman is his bat. He is a career .296 switch-hitter who recently has fared significantly better against righthanded pitching. His career .409 on-base percentage ranks fourth among active players and makes him a candidate to hit in the No. 2 slot ahead of Pujols, if not No. 5 immediately behind Holliday. The fact that he is a switch-hitter is a major plus. The Cards needed a bat with some pop from the left side and they are hopeful that Berkman can offer that.
However last season wasn’t exactly stellar from the Big Puma. Berkman batted .248 with only 14 home runs and 58 runs batted in. The fact is that his bat is slowing down just as much as the rest of his game is, so I personally do not see his bat making a huge impact on the offensive side.
The signing of Berkman was good in theory however I do not believe that it makes sense for this club long term. The better plan would just be to give Jon Jay full-time duty in right field and go from there. I mean let’s face it, with Berkman in right and Holliday in left the Cards will have to depend Colby Rasmus to cover much of the outfield. Which is an other issue completely.
If anything the Cards signing of Berkman complicates more than it helps the club going forward. It focuses too much on potential and what he could be rather than what he is. I don’t think this signing gets us over the hump and back on the Reds level.