Cardinals Sign Lance Berkman, May Move Matt Holliday to Right Field

The St. Louis Cardinals were always mentioned as a team interested in free agent Lance Berkman, but I never thought that would happen. St. Louis has Albert Pujols at first base and being a National League team eliminates the DH option (unless they’re paying $8 mil for strictly a World Series DH). Berkman did sign a one-year $8 million deal with the Cardinals on Saturday making it a virtual certainty that he will be moved to the outfield.

Berkman has played first base exclusively the past three years. He played right field for 31 games in 2007 and center field for one game. The last time he played the outfield predominatly in a season was 2004, and it was 2003 where he played left field almost exclusively. Jon Heyman says the Cardinals will have Berkman play left field and move Matt Holliday, who has played left field exclusively his entire career, to right field.

Holliday has offered to move to right field which should not be too difficult of a transition, so long as he’s not trying to catch balls with his cup. $8 million is a lot for a guy who only hit .248 with 14 home runs last season, making it an expensive gamble for a team that has a limited payroll. The true value of the contract depends on Berkman’s ability to have a bounceback year; if he knocks in 90 runs and hits 25 homers with his typical .900 OPS, he’ll be worth the money. Hitting in the same lineup with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday should bring out the best in Berkman.

Dumb Story Alert: Red Sox Would Have Let Papelbon Go if they Got Rivera

I saw this story Friday night on ESPN.com but did not get a chance to address it until now. One of the main headlines on the site’s front page was that the Red Sox were prepared to let closer Jonathan Papelbon go if they were able to sign Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. The headline and story was one of the dumbest I’ve seen, and it had no business being promoted as a relevant, much less newsworth story.

The story is pointless for obvious reasons: Mariano Rivera had already re-signed with the Yankees when the piece was published. Moreover, there is a better chance of the 1-10 Carolina Panthers making the playoffs than there was of Rivera signing with the Red Sox, so the thinking was irrelevant. What difference does it make what the Red Sox would have done had they signed Rivera?

With this line of thinking, expect the following headlines and stories to appear on LBS in the near future:

+ Larry Brown would purchase NFL team if he had $900 million
+ Steve DelVecchio would date Scarlett Johansson if she showed interest
+ Mississippi State would not have complained if Cam Newton went there

Hopefully their editors are reading this so we can avoid such idiocy in the future.

Red Sox Finally Make a Splash, Trade for Padres’ Adrian Gonzalez

This has gone on too long.  For about two years now, the Boston Red Sox have been “close” to trading for San Diego Padres’ slugger Adrian Gonzalez.  Every winter, every trade deadline, every moment of desperation.  The chess match is over.  Christmas has come early for the Red Sox faithful.  It only took two years and probably about a thousand phone calls, but according to ESPN’s Buster Olney Theo Epstein finally got his man — and all before the Winter Meetings.

Having lost Victor Martinez in free agency over what was reported to be about $4 million, the Red Sox brass had to do something to silence the groans and grumbles down on Yawkey Way.  What better way to have done it than to trade for the best all-around player available on the trade market?

According to the report, Boston will send pitcher Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo — two top prospects in their farm system — along with minor league outfielder Raymond Fuentes to the Padres.  If Olney’s sources are correct, that means Epstein was able to work out a deal while keeping flame thrower Daniel Bard and holding on to Jose Iglesias, another top prospect in Boston’s system that is believed to be a potential solution to their revolving door at shortstop.

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Chicago White Sox Reportedly Closing in on Deals with Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko

What could possibly be better than adding one big free agent bat? How about retaining another. The Chicago White Sox, who finished seven games over .500 and six games behind the Twins in the AL Central last season, reportedly are close to announcing the signing of Adam Dunn. According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Dunn is taking a physical and then the Sox can announce a four-year deal with him reported to be worth $56 million. As if that wasn’t enough, Cowley reports that White Sox players think free agent Paul Konerko will return to the team.

A four-year $56 million deal is slightly less than what Dunn reportedly was hoping for ($60 million), but that is the type of deal he deserves. The big slugger took a huge paycut signing with the Nats for just $20 million over two years in 2009. He had the misfortune of becoming a free agent for the first time when the economy entered the recession and signed a short-term deal with the hope of cashing in on another deal. That opportunity has come and it looks like Dunn will finally be paid.

Dunn has earned a reputation as Mr. Consistency. He hit exactly 40 home runs four straight seasons with the Reds (and part of 2008 after being traded to Arizona) and then he hit 38 home runs in both seasons with the Nats. He’s driven in at least 100 runs six times and has a career OPS of .902. He has clubbed 282 home runs since 2004, more than any baseball player except Albert Pujols. Dunn is a premier slugger in the game and will be an excellent addition to Chicago’s lineup.

Paul Konerko is 34 years old and coming off his finest season as a pro. He’s been with the White Sox since 1999 and driven in at least 90 runs eight times for them, clubbing at least 30 home runs six times. Bringing Konerko back gives the White Sox a slugger at first base to hold down the middle of the lineup as he has been for over a decade. The Adam Dunn signing keeps Chicago as a contender in the AL Central race, retaining Konerko makes them a legitimate threat to win the division and be a playoff force.

Juan Uribe Makes San Francisco Enemies by Joining Rival Dodgers

Boo-Ree-Bay will be the sound billowing from AT&T Park when Juan Uribe makes his return to the city by the bay. I can almost hear it now.

One of the most beloved Giants from the 2010 World Series team has signed a three-year, $21 million dollar deal with the Giants biggest rivals, the Dodgers. The three years were more than the Giants were willing to give him, although Giants General Manager Brian Sabean claims otherwise, so Juan is taking his talents to LA. He presumably will take over at second base as the Dodgers cleared the way by trading away incumbent infielder Ryan Theriot.

Juan Uribe fit in well with the 2010 Giants who were nicknamed the “Misfits.” Uribe joined the team in 2009 after the Chicago White Sox let him go to clear space for Alexei Ramirez. The Giants gave him a shot initially on a minor league deal and he quickly proved he could still play. Capable of playing shortstop, third base, and second base, Uribe developed into a critical asset for the Giants. This past season he had a tremendous year hitting 24 home runs with 85 RBIs.

However, if not for the risk on him taken by the Giants, would Uribe have ever been in position to sign his first multi-year free agent deal? My guess is probably not. In the age of free agency it is rare to see players who have loyalty to an organization. But, the Dodgers? In the minds of many Giants fans it is unforgivable for Juan to join the hated blue.

Uribe will always be remembered for his contributions to the first San Francisco World Series, but he is now a member of the enemy.  BOOO-REE-BAY will ring loudly in the Bay.

Carl Crawford’s Agents Using iPads to Market Their Big Prize

There’s nothing wrong with using the latest technology to get what you want.  In Carl Crawford’s case, the desired result is money.  He’s going to get lots of it, so giving each potential suitor a $500 gift that’s fully loaded with — well, Carl Crawford — doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

According to Hardball Talk, Crawford’s agents are sending out iPads that come pre-loaded with a video of the outfielder which showcases his talents.  I wonder if they loaded his nut shot video on there.  Considering the former Ray is one of the most coveted free agents on the market, the video probably can’t tell any MLB team something they aren’t already aware of.  Unless of course it features some sort of secret talent that would set him apart from Jayson Werth like, say, speed?

In any event, it can’t hurt.  If Crawford’s agents sent on of these things out to every single MLB team, they’d be looking at a bill of around $16,000.  Let’s do a little math.  Say Crawford inks a 6-year, $100 million contract.  If he remains relatively healthy and plays 125 games a year, that’s 750 games over the course of the contract.  Divide $100 million by 750 and you get $133,333, which is what Crawford would be making each game.  Assuming he gets around 4 at-bats per game, that works out to $33,333 per at-bat.  In other words, they’ll literally get the iPad money back and then some the second Crawford steps to the plate for his new team.

MLB Hot Stove Analysis: Victor Martinez, Aubrey Huff

The Detroit Tigers are said to be close to signing free agent catcher Victor Martinez to a four-year $50 million deal.  Martinez, 32 in December, is coming off a .302/.351/.493 season for the Red Sox where he hit 20 home runs and drove in 79 runs, hitting in the middle of the Sox lineup.  He will  step in as the Tigers every day catcher for at least the first two years of the deal and perhaps shift to a Jorge Posada-like DH/catcher time share as he gets into the latter part of the deal.

This is a good signing for the Tigers, despite the long-term commitment, because they believe they have a two or three-year window of opportunity to win now, led by a core consisting of Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.   Martinez has earned rave reviews throughout his career for his leadership and work ethic in Cleveland and Boston and will be a great addition to their club house.

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