Berkman Receives One-Year Extension


In yet another attempt to try to solidify as many parts of the 2012 roster as possible prior to the upcoming offseason, the Cardinals have signed outfielder Lance Berkman to a one-year, $12 million extension for next season. The news comes just two days after several sources reported that a difference of opinion between the two sides had halted discussions. I’m not sure what that was about, but now that Berkman will officially be returning for a second year in a Redbird uniform, it really doesn’t matter.

Lance joins Chris Carpenter as two core players that have agreed to a new contract here in the month of September. The team has also already announced its intentions to extend injured ace Adam Wainwright, and new deals for both Rafael Furcal and Yadier Molina seem highly likely at this point.

It’s looking more and more like next year’s roster will be very similar to this year’s, and regardless of the outcome in the NL Wild Card race, I don’t think that’s such a terrible thing. If you ask me, the current team has enough pieces in place to contend for a World Series. At the end of the day, it comes down to executing over the course of a 162-game season (and avoiding injuries helps too). Don’t get me wrong. There is clearly room for improvement, but St. Louis isn’t that far off from where they need to be to reach the ultimate goal.

Take a look at Berkman’s thoughts on the new extension:

"This is a great place. It’s a great place to be. Having been in one great place for a long time and having to experience being traded and being bounced around a little bit and after the opportunity of free agency, you realize there are other factors besides the dollars that come into play, and certainly comfort is a big part of it. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to look at the situation here and know that there are four or five things that need addressing. Albert. I think [Yadier Molina’s] got an option. Carp’s already been addressed. Wainwright had an option that was addressed. So there were a lot of things going on that the organization had to deal with. I think after looking at that situation and analyzing, all right, if I really do want to be here, what is something that I can offer the Cardinals that would make it attractive to them for me to stay?"

Let’s not forget about general manager John Mozeliak:

"We wanted to have some flexibility as we look to the future, because obviously we want to address Albert’s situation and having the most payroll flexibility would help that. That was part of the compromise on Lance’s part. He recognized that and wanted to make sure our hands weren’t tied in that process. We don’t know what 2012 is going to look like for sure, but we do know Lance Berkman is going to be a part of it and Holliday is going to be a part of it and we know that Craig is going to be a part of it. As the puzzle pieces continue to fall into place, then we’ll have a better idea of playing time and amount. But you just look at what Lance did for us, to go into this offseason with sort of the unknown just really wasn’t a comfortable thing for us."

As much as I love to criticize Mozeliak, I must admit that he is really doing himself and the organization a favor by handling the future now and preparing for the most important free agency talks in baseball history. I don’t understand why the Cards seem to be the only team aggressively pursuing extensions in September, but I’m certainly in favor of it.

There’s no denying the fact that Lance Berkman has been one of the best stories in baseball this year. In fact, his 2011 performance may even warrant consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year Award. The 35-year-old Berkman came into the season re-energized, re-focused, and most importantly , healthy. I think it’s safe to say his numbers have been reflective of that.

Let’s run through some numbers, shall we?

  • .300 BA (2nd on team among qualified hitters)
  • .412 OBP (1st on team)
  • .555 SLG (1st on team)
  • 31 HR (2nd on team)
  • 91 RBIs (2nd on team)
  • 85 RS (2nd on team)
  • 4.6 WAR (3rd on team, 4th among all MLB RF)
  • 15.8 BB % (1st on team)
  • 101.6 wRC (2nd on team)

Every single one of these statistics is an improvement on the previous two seasons for Berkman with the Yankees and Astros. Maybe he’s getting better with age. I don’t think anyone could have expected this out of Berkman this season, but it sure is reassuring to know that he’ll be around in St. Louis for at least one more year.