BREAKING NEWS: Lance Berkman signs a 5 year / 85 million dollar deal with the 'Stros.
EDIT: Actually, apparently, the 85 million INCLUDES the 1 year / 10.5 million dollar deal, making the final contract a 6 year / 85 million dollar deal. Even better! Please...stay....healthy....
No contract specifics, but it works out to about 14 mil / year. It's hard to know which contract to compare this to:
Vladi's 5 year / 70 million dollar contract last offseason (what a bargain!), because Vladi, like Lance, had some injury concerns (back), although they were more severe concerns....
or Magglio's 7 year / 100 million dollar deal (NOT a bargain). Lance has been better than Magglio pretty much every year since he came into the league.
My thoughts on the contract are that it's a pretty good one, particularly if Lance's knee fully heals. It seems like this was the minimum amount it would take to sign Lance; he may well have commanded more on the open market. Berkman is an excellent hitter; here are his OPS from the past 5 years:
That's an elite offensive player. His defense has been steady in both LF and RF, and he even managed to not embarrass himself playing CF. I think he's likely to move to 1B after '06 when Bagwell leaves, unless Todd Self starts hitting for power.
Again, this contract really hinges on how Lance returns from his knee. I hope he's healed in May, because he's a great, popular player, on a team that will probably need all the offense it can get the next few years as we work in our prospects.
So, here's how I see our team shaping up the next few years:
LF Jason Lane
RF Lance Berkman / Luke Scott
3B Morgan Ensberg
SS Adam Everett
2B Chris Burke
1B Todd Self / Lance Berkman
SP Roy Oswalt
SP Brandon Backe
SP Ezequiel Astacio
CL Brad Lidge
RP Chad Qualls
OF Willy Taveras
OF Luke Scott
IF Brooks Conrad
IF Mitch Einerston
SP Fernando Nieve
SP Carlos Hernandez
That's not too bad a base to build off of the next few years. The most gaping holes are catcher, center field, 2 starting pitcher slots, and the bullpen.
With that in mind, there is a rumor that the Dodgers - Mets are finalizing a Kaz Ishii - Jason Phillips trade. To which I say: CRAP! The Mets need a #5 starter with Trachsel out; this seems like the perfect opportunity to get rid of Tim Redding, AND Jason Phillips can play catcher! Phillips was incredibly bad last year (624 OPS), but he had an 815 OPS in '03, is 28, and is an average defender. He'd be a perfectly acceptable stopgap for a year or two until Hector Gimenez is ready or we realize he's not the answer and we sign a free agent.
Summary of today: good job with the Berkman signing, start looking towards the future, and trade for a catcher!