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Lance Berkman: “No matter what people say, it’s always about the money”

Sep 20, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

Lance Berkman AP

Gee, he ought to start a website with that name. Oops! Too late!

The Cardinals are obviously trying to settle as much family business as they can before the season ends and all efforts will have to be put into the Albert Pujols negotiations.  One bit of family business they’d like settled is the matter of Lance Berkman in 2012.  He has said he wants to be back. The Cardinals certainly want him back.  But according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it hasn’t been smooth sailing thus far, with there existing “a difference of opinion over its worth.”

Or, as Berkman puts it:

“It’s always about money,” Berkman said. “No matter what people say, it’s always about the money.”

Berkman took what was, essentially, a make-good deal this year, dropping from his $14.5 million in 2010 to an $8 million deal. No, that’s not chicken feed and it actually strains the definition of “make-good contract,” but the fact was that he took some risk.  If he had flopped in 2011, he’d have nothing to look forward to but one-year deals at around a million per, with the Reggie Sanders career path being his best case scenario.

But he made good. Both with the bat and in terms of his conditioning and defensive flexibility. He gave the Cardinals the most anyone could have expected from an age-35 Lance Berkman, and now he’d like to be paid like a dude who hit .296/.407/.550.  I can’t say I blame him.

Not that Berkman is being unreasonable. According to the report, he simply wants a one-year deal without performance incentives and stuff.  If I’m the Cardinals, I balk at him wanting, like, three years or something at this age. And it’s not like I’m going to pay him $15 million no matter the duration.  But if he simply wants a one-year deal at the market rate for an excellent corner outfielder/first baseman approaching his latter years, I’m not sure why I wouldn’t give it to him. Because someone else certainly will.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 20, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    The Phillies gave Ibanez a 3-year deal when he was a year older than Berkman is now and wasn’t as good as Berkman has been this year. I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t want to try to get something similar to what Ibanez got…at least 3 years and 31.5 million.

    • spudchukar - Sep 20, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      Yeah, getting him for 8 mil this year was a bargain. He may well be asking for 25 for 2 with an option, and he deserves it with a league 2nd best OPS at .970, but of course the Cards will be expecting their usual cheap-assed discount, and will try and low-ball him cause he has stated he would like to return to St. Louis.

    • paperlions - Sep 20, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      Except that nearly everyone pointed out at the time that the Ibanez deal was a bad signing, too long and for too much money. Signing a guy over 35 to a 3 yr deal is always a bad idea because the odds are that you will be looking at one or more years of dead money and possibly a wasted roster spot.

    • presidentmiraflores - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:10 AM

      I’m with paper on this one. Just because the Phillies made a mistake with Ibanez doesn’t mean other teams have to be held to that kind of poor decision making.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:39 AM

      But it only takes one GM…one guy who wants him and will give him the 3 years. It may have been a bad idea with Ibanez and it would probably be a bad idea with Berkman. But you are talking about a league where Milton Bradley was given 3 years and $30 million as much of a headcase as he was…and someone actually TRADED FOR HIM!!! So we’ve seen crazier things happen.

      • presidentmiraflores - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        Yeah, I can’t argue with that.

      • seattlej - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        Very true… but saying that someone traded for him without considering the pile of shit that that team unloaded is a little misleading.

        Regardless, though, you’re very correct in that it only takes one GM. In fact, if I’m Berkman’s agent and he really does want to maximize this contract, there’s no way I’m steering him towards a one year deal without testing free agency first — unless of course it blows me away. But I’m pretty sure someone out there will go 2 years with pretty decent money — maybe even the Phillies if they’re not going to commit to Brown.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Sep 20, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    We gave him WHAT in 2010?

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 20, 2011 at 10:02 AM

      I don’t think the Yankees gave him much…the Astros traded him on 7/31 and I believe they included cash in the deal.

    • jimbo1949 - Sep 20, 2011 at 10:05 AM

      He gave us SQUAT in 2010?

  3. okwhitefalcon - Sep 20, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    I don’t see the Cards getting this done even with a strong 1 year deal offer as Berkman said he would not be opposed to.

    12 is probably their ceiling at best which probably won’t fly with Berkman – another case of Dewitt advising Mo to stay with unproven organizational low hanging fruit. IE, Allan Craig….

    • paperlions - Sep 20, 2011 at 10:53 AM

      Craig’s bat is not unproven. He has hit at every level of the minors and hit very well in the majors this year.

      If the options for 2012 are:

      1) a 28 yr old Craig with better defense and base running and a .870 OPS (what he has hit this year) for the league minimum or

      2) a 36 yr old Berkman with crappy defense (probably the worst defensive everyday RF in MLB this year), poor base running (for some reason he has attempted 7 SB this season, he was safe once), and a .970 OPS (a huge assumption that he could match this year) for $14M or so

      which is a more efficient use of limited resources?

      • spudchukar - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        Limited by what? Greed?

      • paperlions - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        Yes.

        Regardless of the reason(s) for the limitations, the limits are real and the team must be constructed within them. I would love to have Berkman back, but the dropoff from Berkman to Craig is not so great (and may not be a drop off at all, will Berkman stay healthy another entire year and continue to produce like in 2011?) that it warrants over-paying for Berkman when the team has many other holes (SS, 2B, rotation).

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 20, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        I’ve got no problem not resigning Berkman if he overvalues his worth although I’m not sure Craig is a viable everyday alternative moving forward.

        He’s had a nice 2011 for sure but for whatever reason I doubt his numbers would translate that well to everday exposure – who knows..

        I also don’t buy into Dewitt’s “limited resources” company line, I realize he’s in the business of making a profit but he’s going to have to spend more (and not just on Berkman) to maintain a competitive product.

      • spudchukar - Sep 20, 2011 at 12:09 PM

        The limitations are arbitrary. Not real. Like all business models they are a figment of someone’s imagination. A made up figure that becomes some dogmatic mantra. The money is there for Pujols, Berkman et al. Some inflated profit equation is no more real than the Easter Bunny. Dewitt is a privilege driven billionaire, born with a silver spoon. He should take a lesson from Mark Cuban and feel lucky to be so fortunate. His stubborn insistence on frugality to assuage his fragile ego is hideous. His team is a toy, and he should learn to share.

      • paperlions - Sep 20, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        The determination of the limits is arbitrary, but try telling the StL front office that the spending limits are not real.

      • okwhitefalcon - Sep 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        Agreed spud, all of the responsibility of how the Cards are positioned for 2012 falls at Dewitt’s feet.

  4. The Baseball Idiot - Sep 20, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Why is that the guys who always say its about the money are the same ones that always let the world know what great Christians they are?

    • CJ - Sep 20, 2011 at 12:52 PM

      would you prefer they lie?

      • The Baseball Idiot - Sep 20, 2011 at 4:49 PM

        Hypocrisy comes in many forms.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 20, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Exactly CJ…part of being a “great Christian” is telling the truth. And Berkman speaks the truth here no question about it.

    • gabrielthursday - Sep 20, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      Because that money is somehow better used in the pockets of Bill DeWitt?

  5. orangeflh - Sep 20, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Lance, Ryan Braun would beg to differ with you.

    • paperlions - Sep 20, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      Ryan Braun signed a 5 yr extension at $21M/per….more than 4 years BEFORE his current deal expires. Hey, free guaranteed $105M. That deal is paying him through is aged 36 season. As usual, it is still about the money….and Braun is getting a lot of it promised to him long before was necessary to do so.

  6. gabrielthursday - Sep 20, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    It’s ultimately up to Berkman, but I’m surprised he isn’t seeking a 2-year deal, as he assuredly could get something like 2/25 from a number of different clubs around the leagues.

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