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The Big Puma is poised to move on

Feb 24, 2010, 8:40 PM EDT

Lance Berkman headshot.jpgSo he tells Bernando Fallas of the Houston Chronicle:

“I may have to, whether I like it or not,” Berkman said Wednesday as
the Astros’ held their first full-squad workout. “It may come down to a
situation where if things don’t go well they don’t pick up my option,
then I probably won’t be back.”

Berkman, a former first-round pick of Houston in 1997, is entering the final year of a six-year, $85 million contract. The 34-year-old first baseman was limited to just 136 games last season
due to a calf injury that required a 20-day stint on the disabled list. While he still got on base at a .399 clip, Berkman batted a career-low .274 with just 25 home runs
and 80 RBI.

Nobody would argue that the Astros haven’t had an excellent return on their investment, as Berkman certainly qualifies as one of the most underrated players of the past decade. However, after an underwhelming 2009 season, they are unlikely to pick up his $15 million option ($2 million buyout) for 2011 unless he rebounds in a significant way and stays off the disabled list.

  1. Old Gator - Feb 25, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Who gave this poor guy a horrible nickname like “The Big Puma”? Some utility player on the Rocky Mountain Oysters with a sheep ranch at high altitude?

  2. OldNo7 - Feb 25, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    How exactly is this any different than what Manny Ramirez said earlier in the week, and how come Berkman isn’t being excoriated as a distraction the way Manny was? I’m not dumb, I know Manny IS a constant distraction while berkman has in general been a fantastic teammate. I just think that veterans who are reaching the end of the line tend to become a little selfish about their livelihoods, whether they’re good guys like Berkman or kooks like Manny.

  3. Doug - Feb 25, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    Of course the genius Ed Wade will probably use this opportunity to sign the 34 year old Berkman to a 10-year contract. With a three year player option.

  4. mike - Feb 25, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    don’t forget the ” no – trade ” clause

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  6. Doug - Feb 25, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    Right – AND a no-trade clause.

  7. SD - Feb 25, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    OldNo7, you do realize these guys are not calling the media over to their lockers and bringing this stuff up, right?
    You pretty much answered your own question. Manny’s reputation precedes him. Mystery ailments, imaginary injuries, defensive miscues, and PEDs? At this point I assume he does things just to be disruptive. Berkman may be goofy sometimes, but if he is able to play, he is out there with his teammates competing.
    Lance has always been very candid and honest with reporters. He acknowledged that his option won’t be picked up if he doesn’t perform. If he were one of those selfish, aging veterans, he wouldn’t place so much responsibility on his own shoulders. Those guys have an inflated sense of worth, and tend to ignore their shortcomings, not broadcast them. The fact that he’s mentioning retirement, at the age of 34, w/his best offensive stretch less than two years ago, makes me think he’s not one to clutch onto his livelihood.

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