You have to wonder if Lance Berkman regrets agreeing to the trade that sent him to the New York Yankees. In his mind it was an opportunity to play for the same team Mickey Mantle played for, one of his dad's favorites and a reason he's a switch hitter. His contract was up and it was clear both the Astros and Yankees would decline his option for next year. Why not take a shot at a Championship, then resign with Houston in the offseason and finish out his career in comfort.
It was a sound plan, it made sense. Only it didn't.
Ed Wade flipped one of the prospects in the Roy Oswalt deal to the Toronto Blue Jays for well traveled first base prospect, Brett Wallace. There was also another hidden first base candidate who would not waive his no trade clause, and still had a few more years left on his contract, Carlos Lee. The Astros were set at first base well before Berkman waived his no trade clause.
I'm a bit ticked at the way things worked out. How could Berkman be so naive and waive his no trade clause. Irrationally I feel he was deceived into thinking he could return at the end of the season. How could he not be, the Astros traded for a close to Major League ready first baseman before he was traded. Later Wade even said himself in reference to Oswalt and Berkman that they were set in their ways. Reading between the lines the plan all along was to move both iconic Astros figures. These guys replaced Jeff Bagwell and Criag Biggio, and thus destined to finish their careers in Houston.
A long time ago in a ball park far far away Ed Wade made a similar trade. He traded Curt Schilling at the age of 33 two years after being named the Philidelphia Phillies job to the Arizona Diamondbacks, for three pitchers and a first baseman. Coincidentally one of those pitchers was Nelson Figueroa <insert Phillies connection joke>. It seems history to some extent has been repeating itself.
I understand the moves needed to be done, but I can't help but feel slighted. Why trade for Brett Wallace, when you could of used Carlos Lee to fill the first base position. First baseman are one of the easier commodities to find it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to trade for a guy destined for the position unless he's a sure fire superstar. On top of all that it absolutely closes the door on resigning Berkman.In reality this team is probably not competing until 2015, so why not get the pleasure of watching Lance Berkman for a few more years and retire as an Astro.
But maybe that's the best offer Ed Wade was hearing and in the interest of rebuilding made the move.
This morning Fox Sports Houston had an article on Berkman and his venture into free agency. Eight teams have contacted him so far. Nothing imminent as it may take some time for the free agent market to develop, and there may need to be a few first baseman signings before Berkman begins receiving offers. But it made me wonder who may of contacted the Astros and who Berkman would be interested in.
An NL Central team may be a good fit, as a team from withing the division would play in Houston more often. However several teams in the division are already set at first base, with the Cubs probably being the only team willing to sign a free agent first baseman this offseason. The Rangers are another possibility as he'd be fairly close to home. After those two teams though it becomes more about who has a need at first base. Braves, Nationals, Giants, Diamondbacks. His preference is the National League, but with so few options he may need to compromise. Rays, White Sox, Angels. That's nine teams right there.
Where do you think Lance will end up? Is there a team I missed?