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Athletics interested in Lance Berkman as designated hitter

Nov 12, 2010, 8:11 PM EDT

Berkman Yanks

The Athletics have been mighty busy so far this offseason, but general manager Billy Beane is still on a mission to find a power bat for a team that finished second from the bottom in the league in home runs and slugging percentage this past season. With that in mind, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com hears that the A’s have interest in free agent Lance Berkman as a potential designated hitter.

Berkman, who turns 35 in February, batted .248/.368/.413 with 14 homers and 58 RBI in 404 at-bats between the Astros and Yankees this past season. He has traditionally been better against right-handed pitching in the past, but the disparity was never more apparent than in 2010, as he batted just .171 with one home run and a 517 OPS against left-handed pitching.

There’s countless examples of players like Berkman, who have “old man skills” and fade into their late-30s. The game isn’t especially kind to such players right now. As a result, he’s probably going to have accept a one-year deal with a low guarantee this winter. Fortunately for teams like the A’s, this makes him a potential bargain should he bounce back.

  1. raiderdave - Nov 13, 2010 at 3:41 AM

    I like the activity by the A’s so far early in this offseason, but Lance Berkman wouldn’t be much more of an upgrade than Jack Cust is, for a much higher price. I know they need to insert some power into this lineup, but not sure this is the right place of focus.

  2. apbaguy - Nov 13, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Raiderdave is correct about this. We have to focus on the Berkman of 2010 going into 2011, not the classic Berkman of 2007 or so. He isn’t as good at first as Barton, is not a significant upgrade at DH, is also a left handed bat like Barton and Cust, and probably wants north of $ 10M.

    The A’s need to emulate the Giants and get a handful (5 or more) of guys in the $ 3M range. If any 3 of them actually contribute offensively then the team could be an 85+ game winner next year, assuming reasonable health and no serious regression from the starters.

    • raiderdave - Nov 16, 2010 at 1:34 PM

      Definitely agree with apbaguy on that point. The A’s need to stop trying to bring in one past-their-prime piece at $10M or more and focus on filling out the roster with a few solid journeymen vets. DeJesus is a decent start for both his defense and his bat, but the trade is essentially another lateral move by the front office. The A’s only sources of power are in Cust and Suzuki, and both of them are far too inconsistent to have faith in that regard.

      With a potential full season out of Coco Crisp, the A’s can possibly get 4-5 more wins with the small ball approach of getting on base and then stealing bases, since their record last season in games with a stolen base was quite dominant. But it is hard to rely on that sort of method with such an injury-prone lineup. I know there isn’t much out there outside of aging 1B/DH bats, but it’s time for the A’s to get creative instead of this same old song and dance that seems to happen every single offseason.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 15, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Come to the Cubs and be our stopgap, Lance!

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