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Lance Berkman criticizes the Rangers in explaining why he chose St. Louis over Texas

Jan 28, 2011, 2:16 PM EDT

lance berkman and his dog

During a Houston radio interview yesterday Lance Berkman talked about his offseason and explained why he opted to sign with St. Louis instead of Texas (among several other teams).

Berkman was remarkably honest in his comments and said plenty of stuff that will no doubt anger the Rangers and their fans.

In fact, Rangers starter C.J. Wilson has already taken to the radio airwaves in Dallas to respond to Berkman’s comments.

First, here’s some of what Berkman said during the interview, courtesy of ESPNDallas.com’s Richard Durrett:

I felt like if they didn’t re-sign Cliff Lee that they were going to be an average team and I feel that’s probably what’s going to end up happening. It’s all about your pitching. I feel like last year was one of those special years where you kind of catch lightning in a bottle and they got hot and they had some guys that I felt like were pitching better than their talent level and consequently they had a great year.

They were itching to spend some money. I probably could have gotten the best deal out of them, especially in light of what they gave Adrian Beltre, which I think is pretty much of a reach for him.

Athletes don’t normally say stuff like that in public, but most of Berkman’s comments are ultimately pretty reasonable. He’s saying the Rangers seem likely to regress after failing to re-sign Cliff Lee, got several better-than-expected pitching performances on the way to the World Series last season, and gave Adrian Beltre more money than many people believe he’s worth.

Those are all things Rangers fans don’t want to hear, certainly, but none of them are particularly outlandish and in fact they’re all probably pretty close to qualifying as conventional wisdom. Of course, Wilson didn’t see things that way and responded as follows:

I think it’s funny. He was contemplating retirement, so I’m not going to take anything too seriously. I’m not going to get offended by anything he says. If that’s a representative idea of what people around the league think, that’s better for us because they’re going to do the same thing and they’re going to not take us seriously. If we end up stomping through the playoffs again, everyone will be like, “Wow, what a bummer.”

I think things really worked out well for us. Adrian Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, and he’s a pretty good hitter as well. I don’t know if anyone knows he hit .340 last year, which is definitely better than .220. I’m pretty stoked about having him on my team. If someone is going to slam us, that’s going to be something. You hold little grudges like that. I hope the fans understand and when Lance comes to play at some point in Texas, I hope our fans boo.

Berkman and the Cardinals won’t be traveling to Texas to play the Rangers this season. Unless they meet in the World Series, of course, in which case Berkman’s comments about the Rangers will likely have been proven inaccurate anyway.

  1. clydeserra - Jan 28, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    I think Texas’ pitching is going to be better than people think. But Kudos to berkman for not saying the usual platitudes.

  2. Old Gator - Jan 28, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Is that a dog or did he buy a gargoyle at a garden accessory shop and have it airbrushed?

    • yankeesfanlen - Jan 28, 2011 at 4:59 PM

      C’mon Gator, he looks perfectly content with his drooling mutt. May exert a calming influence over him and he’ll hit .230 for TLR.

  3. cintiphil - Jan 28, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Maybe the Birds figure if they don’t sign Albert, they have Berkman on first for the next year. I don’t know how else this guy figures in for St. Louis. I don’t think they can afford another outfielder who can’t move well. Problems, problems for them. I pick them for third or fourth in the Division.

    • spudchukar - Jan 29, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      Knowing where your loyalties lie Phillip, your pick seems more hopeful than fact based. Looks to me like a three or four way battle for the top. Milwaukee has gone all in, so they are certainly players, and with all the problems in Chi town they still have a great deal of talent if they can get it going in the right direction. The Reds, still young, but very talented will have to show they can win outside the division and vs. St. Louis. Both the Astros and Pirates will be better and not so easy for the Reds to beat up on; a place where they maximized their record last year. Don’t forget the Reds were only 6-12 against St. Louis last year, not a record to be crowing about. As reigning division champs they should be viewed as favorites, but as many teams have shown it is mighty tough to repeat. Looks like a dogfight all season long.

  4. kmgannon - Jan 28, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    Berkman is a total LaRussa signing–veteran player, supposed clubhouse guy, TLR blinded by his stats from 6 years ago, and presto–some prospect with more talent gets blocked by the Big Puma creaking around the outfield.

  5. xmatt0926x - Jan 28, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    I dont care about either team but I heard Berkman a few times last year when he was going to be moved and he struck me as someone who still values his ability (and his importance) way too much. He can barely move and he’s not a very good hitter anymore. Hey Lance, try some sit-ups and maybe hit your weight before feeling you have a right to comment on why another franchise was unworthy of you and your less than mediocre services. Get over yourself.

    • cintiphil - Jan 29, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      I agree that he has health problems. When he came to Cinti., he killed us almost as bad as Albert. When he is healthy, he can still hit. We saw that when he came back from a long layoff from injury last year. He came to Cinti. and ripped the ball everywhere. His problem is staying healthy and trying to move quicker (big problem).

  6. apbaguy - Jan 28, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Berkman can still bounce back, he’s not that far removed from some pretty good seasons, and the pattern for older, veteran guys who were once very good is that they don’t just fall off a cliff. They have some up years in an overall downward trend.

    Like Craig says, there’s a sense of conventional wisdom to Berkman’s remarks. Those comments sound plausible in January. By October we’ll likely see something completely different. Who predicted the Giants as WS winners last January, for example?

    But no doubt Texas will use Berkman’s comments as motivation, especially the rotation. And don’t doubt for a minute that there was some Houston animus towards Dallas in his remarks. Those of us who live or have lived in Texas understand that rivalry. When I lived in San Antonio I much preferred Houston and its people to Dallas. Lots of people felt the opposite. But there is a rivalry between the two cities, and with Berkman’s Houston background, there might be a little of that creeping into his comments.

  7. xmatt0926x - Jan 28, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    I just think he goes overboard when he talks about it being a stretch with Beltre’s contract. Come on. Im not a huge Beltre guy but at least be more than a .240 hitter (an out of shape one at that) before your critical of a contract that another player received. His comments may end up being realistic to an extent but I don’t know that he should be so cocky when he is obviously in major decline himself. He should be glad that Tony LaRussa overvalues mediocre “good ol’ boys” on his team to the point that he gave Berkman $8 million. I’m betting that Lance is riding the pine with a .245 average come July. just my 2 cents.

  8. baseballstars - Jan 28, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Beltre also loves having his head rubbed.

  9. genericcommenter - Jan 28, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    BOTH Berkman and Beltre are being overpaid, but that’s common this offseason. At least Berkman’s deal is only 1 year, though.

    I will admit, I’m not really sure about the $$$ value of 3rd Base defense, but as a hitter Beltre has been below average in half his seasons and only very good 2 years, with the rest hovering around average.

    I mean, his similar to guys like Travis Fryman and Robin Ventura. Robin Ventura won 6 Gold Gloves and was a similar hitter. Was he ever considered a/the top free agent position player at any point in his career? Would anyone have given him a 6yr/$96 contract coming off his age 31 season? I doubt it. He made ( considerably, by around $30 million) less in his entire career than Beltre’s next contract.

    Amazingly Beltre’s been overpaid ( by a lot) his whole career. He will have made around $180 million by the end of his contract. I have to think he will be in competition for most overpaid player of all-time ( outside of complete busts/injury cases, and that could still happen).

  10. Ick McWang - Jan 29, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    did he really say beltre is the best defensive 3rd baseman in baseball? didn’t the sox play the rays a zillion times last year? Evan Longoria is the best defensive 3rd baseman, hands down. There really is no argument.

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