The Lance Berkman Trade: Yankees Perspective

Details aren’t official yet, but Lance Berkman will be a Yankee within 24 hours, according to Joel Sherman. Berkman will ostensibly become the DH for New York, supplanting Marcus Thames and Juan Miranda, and will also be able to fill in for Mark Teixeira at first base.

Berkman is in the middle of a down year right now, mostly due to a career low .279 BABIP. His power is down as well, as his .191 ISO is his first ISO below .200 since his first season in the big leagues, 1999. As such, 2010 has been Berkman’s worst full major league season. Still, he’s been productive. His wRC+ of 123 is solid, even at first base, as evidenced by his 1.9 WAR in 385 PAs. The plate discipline is as good as ever, as Berkman is walking a remarkable 16.8% of the time – 195% of the league average.

It’s not likely that Berkman will ever repeat his 162 wRC+ seasons of 2008 and 2006, given that this is Berkman’s age 34 season. However, there is reason to believe that he will improve. Power numbers can fluctuate wildly over the course of even half a season. ZiPS projects that Berkman will put up a line of .268/.386/.486 for the rest of the season – a roughly 140 wRC+. That’s a major improvement over the below average hitters that the Yankees are currently running out as DHes in Juan Miranda and Marcus Thames, and it also beats the projection for Jorge Posada, who has actually seen the most PAs at DH of the entire Yankees squad.

This one’s exceedingly simple for the Yankees. With Nick Johnson injured, DH was a bit of a weakness. Apparently, the cost for Berkman is minimal in terms of prospects, and the Yankees can easily absorb the roughly $6M remaining on his $14.5M contract – Buster Olney even reports that the Astros will pick up a significant portion of the money remaining. Berkman should be able to add roughly a win over Thames and Miranda over the course of the season, and there’s a chance that he sees a rebirth of his power in New Yankee Stadium, particularly batting left handed. Between the switch hitters Berkman, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Jorge Posada, the Yankees will also have a lineup that won’t be susceptible to specialist relievers. The Yankees used their cash reserves to effectively buy another hitter for the stretch run, and an impressive Yankees lineup will only get better now.

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33 Responses to “The Lance Berkman Trade: Yankees Perspective”

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  1. …and the Astros are paying most of the money in the deal. Drayton McLane/Ed Wade, you’re doing it wrong!

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  2. What is the point of making the trade if you’re the Astros and you aren’t getting elite prospects or complete salary relief?

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  3. waynetolleson says:

    Can’t all the geniuses and insiders wait until there’s ACTUALLY A TRADE before bothering with all the keen insight and analysis. The media is just out of control. When will people learn the difference between TALKING and TRADING?

    Lest we forget, Joel Sherman is the same brain who told us for certain that Cliff Lee was a Yankee. When will people stop taking the bait?

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    • Mike R. says:

      The trade was already agreed in principle yet still fell through, which doesn’t happen very often. If this is just a rumor, it wouldn’t already have an article.

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  4. HotCornR says:

    We still don’t know what the Astros are getting in return yet…

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    • MauerPower says:

      Astros aren’t getting anything, a player but since NYY is eating Berkman’s salary the ‘Stros are getting nothing.

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    • Mike R. says:

      I’m hearing it might be Kevin Russo and Jimmy Paredes. Could be a lie though.

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      • MauerPower says:

        So no one worth while. Lol.

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      • Frank says:

        Russo can be a quality hitter and has some value at the major league level as a utility player. Not much pop (if any) but he can handle the bat and has decent on base numbers.

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  5. MauerPower says:

    Wow…I just heard Houston is picking up most of his contract…LOL.

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  6. Kinanik says:

    Berkman’s been quite solid in July, with a .400+/.525ish line. I’m pretty sure that’s about what you want out of him, maybe a bit more slugging, if you are greedy.

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  7. hank says:

    I think we need to wait to see the propect(s) they get…. the report/rumor was not a top propect, but that’s a bit vague, still though it does not sound good.

    While I understand clearing the way for Wallace… the Astros effectively traded:
    Oswalt + Berkman + a chunk of cash for
    A back end of the rotation starter (Happ), Wallace, a questionable SS prospect and mid/low tier prospects from the Yanks.

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  8. CircleChange11 says:

    I think most fans knew this day was coming … When vets would be traded and full scale rebuilding would ensue.

    I guess by signing Feliz and Lyon they were just going to play the season and see how it went.

    Doesn’t look like Carlos Lee is excited to wave his NTC and leave his ranch, and the 18M per for the next 2 years.

    That’s not as surprising as Derrek Lee vetoing a trade to LAA.

    I don’t like the idea of HOU paying a lot of money to trade their big name guys but that’s likely what it takes. The Cubs could be the next team to do this.

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  9. Cidron says:

    So, between Tex, N.Johnson, Posada, and now Berkman, 1b and DH is covered.. So, where is Jeter playing once he moves from SS again? 3b.. nope, arod.. 1b, nope tex and berkman.. dh, nope any of above.. Where will Jeter be playing? Position and/or city!?

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Johnson and Berkman are probably gone after this season, and Posada the year after.

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    • Brian K says:

      Jeter’s gonna play SS the rest of the season. Berkman is requiring his $2 mil option to NOT be picked up so he can enter free agency. Basically he’s only here for 1 season, so calm down champ.

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  10. CircleChange11 says:

    Just read where LB vetoed a trade to CWS, leading to this deal.

    Be interesting to see what the CWS were willing to offer as compared to what the NYY give HOU.

    This is where the 10/5 player can really limit your options (same thing with DLee and the LAA).

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    • dickey simpkins says:

      Given Chicago’s farm system, I’m doubting it was anything more worthwhile.

      Real bummer for the Sox that Berkman said no, imagine that bat playing in the Cell, sandwiched between Konerko and Quentin?

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    • Craig Biggio says:

      Not to mention, those same fans slapped my wife in the stands during game 2.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Olney reports that HOU is going to pay 3M of the remaining 7M on Berkman’s deal through the remainder of the year.

      That’s not as bad as wild imaginations could conjur up, providing it brings a little better prospect their way.

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  11. Mike R. says:

    Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes. Better return than I previously thought.

    Melancon has the potential to be a solid middle reliever, but his stock has fallen considerably because he can’t seem to find a groove in the majors and is currently struggling in AAA.

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    • OremLK says:

      That’s not bad. Melancon actually has closer potential and was once thought of as Mariano Rivera’s successor. His walks are way up at AAA this year, but he’s always had good control otherwise.

      Paredes has a lot of potential, but hasn’t performed up to it. Boom or bust guy.

      Considering that Berkman had no surplus value over contract, kicking in $4 million and getting a couple halfway decent prospects is about the return you’d expect.

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  12. Larry M says:

    The Astros are having a down year, so they gave up on their two best players of the last few years. Smart? Only if they know something that no one else does about the prospects they acquired in the trade.
    The Oswalt deal my not be too unwise, since pitchers often have shorter careers than fielders. And Ostwalt’s style, unlike that of Andy Pettitt, puts a lot of strain on his body. So that trade may not be too unwise, especially since they acquired an effective pitcher in the trade.
    Admittedly Berkman is 34, but he is finally recovering from his knee surgery and starting to rap the ball like he did before. Getting Bagwell in as hitting coach has also helped him and the whole team. I believe Berkman will come back to form soon. As far as using him as DH, it is not widely recognized, but he has been one of the fastest players on the Astros and is an excellent defensive player, so no reason he shouldn’t get more playing time, unless it is to protect his mending knee.

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    • J Rich says:

      hahaha at berkman being one of the astros (or any major league teams) fastest players.

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  13. CircleChange11 says:

    Chicagobradio is reporting that LB vetoe’d the trade to CWS because he “fell in love with the East Coast during his playoff experiences”, and pointed out that his playoff travels took him to ATL, StL, and CWS.

    Pretty obvious why LB wants to play for the NYY. World Series and he’s about to become a free agent. Smart move, IMO.

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  14. Sean L says:

    The strains of seniority, as far as Oswalt is concerned, seem to be secondary to his contract status. The guy is by no means a spring chicken (33 by the end of next month), but he’s proven to be one of the most valuable pitchers in the National League in the last decade. I think you should be more focused on what the Astros receive/what the Phils give up than what he does on the field, because he’s proven to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher since 2001.

    I’m still conflicted on this trade from the Astros’ perspective, however. Haap probably won’t come close to reaching Oswalt’s value, but he’s effective and cost-controlled until the end of the year and probably won’t demand a hefty sum in arbitration. He’s a good pitcher, and the market for Oswalt appears to be less than advertised. Perhaps the Astros are getting more than they could’ve in another deal, while the Phils add a legit second ace to their staff. Either way, it should make the pennant races more interesting in both the AL and NL.

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  15. pft says:

    Can’t say I am happy about this as a Red Sox fan. He has hit well from the left side, and in Yankee stadium will be a problem. Also, I suspect hitting in the Yankee lineup he will see some better pitches than in Houston. Of course, he will also be facing some better pitching in the AL east.

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  16. Joker says:

    Both Oswalt & Berkman will choke….heard it hear 1st!! werd fewl…

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  17. Don Mynack says:

    Lance is a really good guy, but he’s also lazy, puts in no extra work, and shows up 30 minutes before game time. He’s not a great guy to have around on a young team – he’s not a leader, nor does he lead much by example. Think of a bizarro Darren Erstad, albeit one with a lot of ability. If you are rebuilding, and trying to motivate and nurture young guys…you don’t really need his attitude, you know? He’s a heck of a quote, plays pretty straight with the media…could be a hit with the fishwraps in NYC.

    Interesting to see how his act plays in the Yankee clubhouse, though.

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  18. Kyle says:

    Actually Berkman has, throughout his career, been one of the hardest workers Houston has seen. Now he wasn’t juicing up like so many guys so I guess that makes him lazy. He played centerfield, and made a few absurd catches. He’ll never make 10 errors at first in a season, say like a Ryan Howard.

    He’s coming off a knee surgery, and has just started hitting. He’s also a smart baserunner, and knows when to steal a base. His OBP is better than A-Rod and Jeter though he’s having by far his worst season(has a higher OBP for his career, as well.) Oh, let’s not even mention the sandbox he will be playing in for left handed hitters. He never benefited from Minute Maid’s dimensions like others, since so little of his power comes from the right side. His power numbers get better in notorious pitchers’ parks like PetCo, SBC, and Dodger Stadium.

    If Damon can get 24 homeruns at age 35, Berkman will mash the rest of this season. Plus he’s been money in the postseason, hitting .321 for his career while never disappearing in the World Series like a few guys on the Yankees.

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