Report: Yankees on the verge of acquiring Lance Berkman

Lance Berkman (17) April 28th, 2010; Cincinnati Reds vs The Houston Astro's in Minute Maid Park, Houston Texas. The Astro's lost 6-4.

While an official announcement isn’t expected to come until Saturday afternoon, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring first baseman Lance Berkman from the Astros. (Joel Sherman of the New York Post posted the same report on his Twitter page.)

With Mark Teixeira entrenched at first base, Berkman would become the Yankees’ new DH for the stretch run. He would still have 24 hours to cancel any deal because he has a full no-trade clause in his contract, but one would assume that he would waive it in order to join a contender for the final two months of the season.

It’s unclear at this point what the Yankees would have to give up in a deal for Berkman, although prospects David Adams and Ivan Nova have each been mentioned in other trade scenarios. (Adams’ name was mentioned in the Cliff Lee deal before talks with the Mariners broke down.)

One interesting thing to note is that Alyson Footer, who is the Astros’ Sr. Director of Social Media, writes via Twitter that Berkman does not want the new team to pick up his $15 million option for 2011. It would appear as though he wants to return to the Astros next season.

Update: Sherman now says the deal is completed – Berkman is a Yankee.

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Berkman willing to approve trade

According to Jon Heyman, the Astros’ Lance Berkman would accept a trade. Of course, Berkman’s recipient would need to be cool with picking up his $15 million option for next season, which doesn’t appear likely. There aren’t many teams in need of a mediocre first baseman with dipping power numbers.

Nevertheless, Heyman states the Angels might bite if Berkman drops the option. Yeah, he looks like a lummox, but I don’t think Berkman is that dumb. If he’s fine with leaving Houston he can just play for a new contract next year while earning a ridiculous sum.

Still, the Angels scenario is intriguing considering the injury to Kendry Morales. If Morales is indeed out for the year, the Angels will need somebody to replace his power at first base. Although Berkman is hitting a discouraging .260, he’s starting to pick it up and should finish with around 25 home runs.

In the end, I say Berkman is good for a couple of solid Angel prospects. If the Angels decide to go this route, the Astros would emerge the real victors given their feeble farm system.

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The difference between MLB and NFL players when it comes to steroids

When it comes to speaking his mind about the differences between how MLB and NFL players are treated when it comes to steroids, Astros’ first baseman Lance Berkman hits the nail on the head.

From the Houston Chronicle:

“I will say that what will be interesting will be the reaction, because generally when that happens to a football player, it’s kind of ho-hum,” Berkman said. “They’ll write a story and he’ll serve his four games and nobody will ever say anything else about it.

“If that happens to a baseball player, they’d want to strike him from the record book. It’s just a totally, totally different reaction, and I don’t know why that is.”

Here’s my theory: Football is just more popular than baseball is, so people have a tendency to give NFL players more leniency.

Fantasy baseball isn’t as popular as fantasy football and the NFL has a clear advantage over MLB when it comes to gambling.

There are only 16 games in football, so fans live and die on every play. There are 162 games in baseball, so fans could essentially miss an entire week of action and it still might not even matter in the grand scheme of things.

People love football. They crave it. They want to see their favorite players in uniform and if one of them screws up, all they usually care about is how many games he’ll miss before he’s back on the field. When a baseball player screws up, the games he misses won’t necessarily have a barring on how the team does (look at Manny Ramirez’s suspension last year), so fans are more likely to get their moral handbooks out when passing judgment.

It’s not fair, but that’s just the way it is.

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Roy Oswalt a Met? Not likely.

Starter Roy Oswalt recently said that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Astros want to deal him. But given that he’s making $15 million this season, he’s not likely to wind up a Met says Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Roy Oswalt’s name is out there as a potential reinforcement for a team in need of pitching help, but don’t expect the Mets to inquire.

The team is reluctant to eat the $1.8 million remaining on Gary Matthews Jr., contract, making it unlikely that GM Omar Minaya would inquire about Oswalt – especially with Citi Field attendance down 6,852 fans from last season.

The Astros may have to eat part of Oswalt’s salary if they expect to get anything of value in return for him in a trade. It might be worth it for them, seeing as how they’re so depleted offensively.

It’s hard to imagine Oswalt and Lance Berkman in anything but Astro uniforms, but it’s a possibility that they could each be dealt if the club decides to hold a fire sale this year. We’ll see.

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Lance Berkman willing to waive no-trade clause?

Long-time Astros first baseman Lance Berkman told the Houston Chronicle that he would be open to waiving his no-trade clause.

“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.”

“I would say yeah,” Berkman said. “I think it would benefit the organization, and in the end, it would be a benefit for whoever it is — whether it’s me, or Roy (Oswalt) or Carlos. I’m not saying we’re at the point where they should start pulling the plug on us, but they need to start thinking forward. If this thing keeps going like this, they’ve gotta do something.

“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.”

Berkman is in the final year of his contract, but the Astros hold a $15 million option for 2011. He has stated that he wants to retire a Stro, but you can’t fault him for wanting to have a shot to contend elsewhere. He’s at the end of his career and while his numbers are declining, he’s still a productive player – one that would benefit from being surrounded by better talent around him.

I wonder if a team like the Rangers would be a good fit. Justin Smoak isn’t even hitting his own weight right now, while Ryan Garko isn’t hitting Calista Flockhart’s weight. I won’t even begin to speculate what kind of a package Texas could put together in a trade for Berkman, but again, it would appear to be a nice fit for both parties.

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