Results tagged ‘ DH ’
Lance Berkman, one of the most accomplished and most popular players in team history, could be returning to the Astros next year in free agency. Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said Friday he plans to reach out to the Big Puma to gauge his interest in returning.
“Lance can still produce at the Major League level,” said Luhnow, who was with St. Louis when Berkman played a huge role in the Cardinals’ run to the 2011 World Series. “He’s a guy a lot of clubs are going to be interested in. We’ll have a conversation with him and see where it goes.”
Berkman, who’s been hobbled by bad knees the past few years, could get extended time at designated hitter for the Astros, who are moving to the American League next year. He lives in Houston year round and could opt to finish his career in his hometown.
“He is an offensive weapon and has been his entire career,” Luhnow said. “No matter how you get that bat in the lineup – and obviously in the AL you have an opportunity to use him as a DH – he’s an offensive force, no question about it.”
Berkman, 36, played the first 12 years of his career with the Astros, hitting 360 home runs with 1,200 RBIs. He was traded to the Yankees midway through the 2010 season before signing a pair of one-year deals with the Cardinals.
He hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs in 2011, but was limited to 81 at-bats last season because of knee injuries. The Cardinals have said they’re not interest in bringing him back, and Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week he’ll wait until December to decide if he wants to keep playing.
“Clearly, Lance has a great history here and was a key part of a great franchise at a great time,” Luhnow said. “If we feel there’s a fit in terms of what we need and what he can provide, we won’t hesitate to pursue it. We have a lot of different options out there and we’re not going to leave any stone unturned.”
With the Astros headed to the American League West beginning in 2013, there’s going to be a different brand of baseball played at Minute Maid Park. There will be less bunts, fewer pitching changes and almost no double-switches. All of which is thanks to the presence of the designated hitter.
If you grew up a baseball fan in Houston, seeing the designated hitter at Minute Maid Park will take some time to embrace. Beginning in 2013, there will be no more watching pitchers trying to bunt and swing away aimlessly. No more acting shocked when the Gustavo Chacins of the world hit home runs (unless the Astros are playing Interleague Play in a National League park).
OK, now I’m confused.
The bottom line is the Astros are going to have to find a designated hitter. They have a pretty good candidate to be DH in Carlos Lee, but as luck would have it, his contract expires at the end of the 2012 season. The Astros aren’t likely to bring him back after paying him $100 million over six years.
The DH is usually associated with a guy like Frank Thomas or David Ortiz, burly sluggers who have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and who aren’t the greatest defenders. But some of the best DH’s have been guys who can flat out hit, but not necessarily hit the long ball as proficiently as the Big Hurt. Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines, two of the best DH’s ever, never hit more than 40 homers in a season, and Baines never hit more than 30.
Could the future DH be Brett Wallace, who has yet to establish himself in the Majors? Wallace will need to find his power stroke first, but if he’s still in the organization in two years he’ll be in the mix.
The two players in the system who appear to have the most potential to be DH’s down the road are Jonathan Singleton and Telvin Nash, who is build like Ryan Howard.
Singleton, acquired from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal, is one of the club’s top prospects and has emerging power. A left-handed hitter who plays first base, he hit a combined 13 homers last season between high Class A Clearwater and Lancaster. The kid is bursting with potential.
Nash, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound right-hander, looks more like your prototypical DH. He bashed 14 homers in only 268 at-bats last year at low Class A Lexington, missing two months after breaking a bone in his hand.
If Singleton is indeed the team’s first baseman of the future, Nash is destined for a DH role. Another slugger who push for DH time is Kody Hinze. He’s not a top prospect, but he’s shown some pretty good power and has been playing first base as well.