Another Adam Dunn Alternative


With the trade deadline looming we’re going to read plenty of reports about teams being interested in players who could help them down the stretch. These are, for the most part, non-starters. A few big names get dealt at almost every trade deadline, and we’ve already seen a few players on the move in the past week or so. I wager a few more will change teams between now and 4 p.m. tomorrow.

The Yankees, thankfully, have only wants and not needs. They lead the AL in runs per game despite rotating the DH and therefore playing Colin Curtis, Ramiro Pena, or Francisco Cervelli almost every day. They’re third in runs allowed. They have a solid rotation, the best closer in the biz, and a pretty set offense. In other words, they can tone down the big moves and add pieces here or there. Still, I’m sure they’ll consider moves for bigger names if the price is right.

On offense the Yanks need nothing beyond a DH, and even then they don’t really need anyone there, either. Marcus Thames can hold down the role vs. lefties — that’s why they signed him — and then against righties the team can rotate its regulars. Jorge Posada needs some time at DH, and Joe Girardi has used him there to get his bat in the lineup even when he’s a little banged up. A slugging DH, though, could add another dimension to this offense for the final two months and into the playoffs.

Of the available names Adam Dunn appears the most attractive, but the late word is that the Yanks have found the Nationals’ asking price too steep. Yesterday Mike presented an alternative in Luke Scott. Today I want to examine another DH alternative. Given his team’s moves yesterday he might have become available. The Yankees could certainly give Lance Berkman a look at DH.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

We’re all aware of Berkman by reputation, and most of us are familiar with his struggles this year. He started the year on the DL after undergoing knee surgery in the spring, and he got off to a slow start. That’s not uncommon. What’s important is that he has gotten better from May through July. He posted a meager .332 wOBA in May, but that rose to .357 in June and .392 in July. In fact, he’s shown much improvement in July, hitting for much more power (.288 ISO) and walking a ton more (22.3 percent of his PA). His average is a bit down, but that’s because of a .229 BABIP. Everything else looks good, even great, for Berkman right now.

Another encouraging factor lies in his splits. Even with his poor performance early in the season he has crushed righties this season, to the tune of a .382 wOBA. Presumably this has gotten better lately, too. He’s spraying the ball to all fields as a lefty, hitting 56 to left field, 55 to center, and 65 to right. His opposite field power has not faded, as he has a .482 ISO when hitting the ball the other way. He does seem to have some trouble pulling the ball, as he has a 67.7 ground ball rate when going to right field, with only 13.8 percent fly balls (and 22.2 percent of those are infield flies, though another 22.2 percent left the park). I’m not sure if this is something he’s also improving on, but if it is he’d be the complete package in New York: a lefty who can spray the ball the other way but still take it over the short porch.

There are some concerns with Berkman, of course, not least of which is his knees. Time at DH will help mitigate that risk, but it will probably preclude the Yankees from playing him in the outfield, where he has played 7383.2 major league innings. He hasn’t roamed the outfield since 2007, and even then it was only 230 innings. It seems like he’s done out there, which would reduce his role with the Yankees. They could install him as full-time DH and relegate Thames to PH duty, but that would require Berkman to pick up the pace as a RHB, something that’s not guaranteed.

He also has poor numbers away from Minute Maid Park in Houston. It is a pitcher’s park that ranks above average in homer-friendliness and below average in other categories. Yet when Berkman is there he has a .390 wOBA, compared to a .317 mark on the road. I’m not sure how meaningful that is when considering a player, but it does seem suspect. His BABIP is much higher at home, if that helps quell the concern a bit.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of his contract. He is owed roughly $5 million for the rest of this season, plus has a $2 million buyout on a $15 million club option for 2011. There is almost no way the Yanks would pick up this option, so it would cost them roughly $7 million to bring aboard Berkman. This is also why Houston might like to deal him. Whether they’d kick in money remains to be seen, but it does seem that they’re in full strip-down mode. They traded Roy Oswalt yesterday for a relatively light package that included 1B Brett Wallace. That’s what makes Berkman available. Chances are Houston wouldn’t pick up his option at the end of the year, anyway.

At Pale Hose Pariah, Erik Manning used Sky Kalkman’s trade value calculator to assess the value of a Berkman addition. Given the optimistic rest-of-season projection of 1.2 WAR, Berkman would be worth slightly less than his contract (though Erik uses $5.5 million, while the actual number, I think, comes in just under $5 mil, but I could be wrong). Added with the buyout, you’d expect either a low exchange rage (a B and a C prospect) or Houston to kick in some cash for a better prospect. Given yesterday’s Oswalt deal, it doesn’t seem like the price in prospects, either way, would be too steep.

All considered, Luke Scott is the better option. He’s having a better overall season, is cheaper, and is under team control through the 2012 season. That means his price in prospects will be more expensive, and the Yanks might have to pay a premium on top of that because they’d be dealing within the division. In any case, the point might be moot because Peter Angelos doens’t like dealing with the Yankees. Maybe Andy MacPhail could talk some sense into him if the Yanks make a solid offer, but I doubt it would be enough to bowl over the brass in Baltimore.

If the Yanks want to add a solid bat, they won’t find many better than Berkman’s, especially if he has rounded into form. Given what we saw from the Oswalt deal it doesn’t appear he’ll be expensive. The Yanks will have to eat some salary, but it looks like they’re willing to do that. I can almost guarantee this won’t happen, but the idea of Berkman batting sixth or seventh in this lineup is quite a tantalizing one.

Categories : Trade Deadline


  1. Matty Ice says:

    What if we sent CHoP back their way? That essentially negates the $2 million owed to him next year for the buyout, no?

  2. theyankeewarrior says:

    Berkman, Scott, LaRoche, anyone…

    I’m like that crack-addict Yankee fan, longing for a fresh new name to root for. I love me some trade deadline pick-ups.

    Is there a place I can go to for help?

    • Betty Lizard says:

      Hee. I can tell you what doesn’t work: green tea, Enya, relaxation techniques. Personally I’m playing Gimme Shelter at full volume and drinking as much coffee as I can. Might as well use my trade-rumors-speculation addiction to fuel as much work as possible.

  3. TERPSandYANKSfan says:

    I think the option is for next year not 2012.

  4. I still think I’d rather go Berkman over Scott; maybe it’s a little bit of Joe Torre syndrome in liking the bigger name/past performance, but I think Berkman’s more reliable and despite Scott’s team control, he’s going to get more expensive. He’s making $4.05M this year and he’s going to get even more expensive next year. I think I’d rather just eat $2M buying out Berkman at the end of the season.

  5. brewster's millions says:

    I’m out on Berkman…Dunn sounds pretty exciting for the right price. Scott is okay. I feel like they should move Miranda as a chip.

  6. Tom Zig says:

    I’m down for bringing on Big Puma, as long as we don’t have to pick up that awful option of his. You said in the article, he isn’t the best option, but in terms of prospect price, isn’t Big Puma actually the best trade option? Peter Angelos is a spiteful old man and would ask for the world for Luke Scott. The Nats are asking for the moon and the stars for Big Donkey, who happens to be anti-DH (srsly?) (not like he’d have a choice in the matter). I know Ed Wade/Drayton McLane aren’t easy to deal with but maybe, just maybe, they realized that if they actually want to unload these awful contracts and get better they have to be reasonable.

  7. This is also why Houston might like to deal him. Whether they’d kick in money remains to be seen, but it does seem that they’re in full strip-down mode. They traded Roy Oswalt yesterday for a relatively light package that included 1B Brett Wallace. That’s what makes Berkman available. Chances are Houston wouldn’t pick up his option at the end of the year, anyway.

    Nitpick: While I’d posit that Berkman’s pricepoint is probably lower than Oswalt’s was, since Berkman’s not performing as well and not under team control as long, I don’t think the Oswalt package can be called “light”.

    JA Happ is a quality starter and whether you consider the package to be Anthony Gose or Brett Wallace, both of those players are elite prospects. Happ/Gose/Villar (or Happ/Wallace/Villar) is not what I’d call “light”.

    And the ‘Stros kicked in money on Oswalt in order to get the Happ/Gose premium prospect return on Oswalt. I bet they’d do the same on Berkman. McLane does’t like dealing his veterans, but he’s only moving them for prospects, not for salary relief. I don’t doubt Berkman’s available, but I doubt we could buy him for a nonprospect by taking on salary.


  8. ZZ says:

    The problem with Berkman last year and so far this year is his major platoon split where he is performing very poorly against LHP.

    As a team, the Yankees worst split offensively is vs LH starters.

    With a potential matchup/s vs the likes of Price, Lee, Buerhle, CJ Wilson, John Danks him and Granderson together in the lineup could be very troublesome.

  9. Grandy says:

    All I know is that it’s been a bit too quiet on the Cashman front. That could either be good or bad in terms of making a deal, but knowing how stealth he tends to be gets me a bit anxious and excited for something surprising. As for Berkman, to me, I will take any steady bat over the Thames/Miranda platoon.

  10. Rose says:

    I’m almost certain that Berkman would force any team to pick up his option before he waived his no-trade clause to go anywhere. He probably would try and even have that team extend him as well if he could.

  11. tc says:

    Dude, you spent that much time writing about a player you are nearly “100% sure” will NOT be playing for us? What is he, your brother-in-law? You get a cut of any potential deal? Or just slow day?

  12. Steve H says:


    And for the extra cost Angelos would demand from the Yankees’, that package required wouldn’t be too big I don’t think. I wouldn’t give up much for either of them, filling the DH hole is a luxury, not a necessity, and neither Berkman or Scott at this point are definitive major upgrades.

  13. daneptizl says:

    I like this idea over Dunn.

  14. Tampa Yankee says:

    I wonder if the swap of Gose for Wallace might aid in Houston wanting to move Berkman and thus picking up some of his salary since they could just bring Wallace up and play him at 1B.

    • Steve H says:

      Good point. It’s not like Wallace can DH in the NL and is a butcher anywhere else.

      • Yeah, but they could also just wait until September and bring Wallace up, or wait until Opening Day 2011 after Berkman walks. They’re not going to be more motivated to dump Berkman just to get a one-month (or two-month) jumpstart on Brett Wallace’s career.

        • Steve H says:

          No, but the Wallace trade was the nail in Berkman’s coffin in Houston. Knowing that, they would be idiots (which they may be) not to trade him now and get something for it. I also think the Oswalt trade will make it easier for them to trade Puma. Beginning of a new era, and Oswalt has a lot more in the tank than Berkman.

  15. Stephen R. says:

    Joe, Berkman’s BABIP is 0.279 this year, not 0.229. It’s still well under career norms, but given the decrease in his line drive percentage (3% of career average, not the end of the world but at least worth mentioning), I wouldn’t expect a giant bounceback in terms of batting average.

  16. j_Yankees says:

    i’ll piggy back on what folks are already saying in here.

    Like Dunn the most…then Berkman…then Scott.

    and even if i did like scott over berkman its a bit of a pipe dream with Angelos wish death upon anything Yankee related.

  17. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    Any team the Yanks talk trade with asks for Montero or Romine. Forget it. Its just not gonna happen. Better chance they make a waiver deal sometime in August.

  18. Gonzo says:

    What would Cash have to give up? I know it’s relative to the amount the ‘Stros would pick up in salary. What do you guys think?

    • Anything more than one of Nova/Noesi/Phelps/Warren/McAllister/Adams/Nuñez/Laird/CoJo/Miranda, and I’m hanging up.

    • Newbie says:

      If the Yanks pay a significant chunk of his salary, I doubt it would cost too much. If it does take one of Romine/Montero, then it is completely not worth it. I think it’s possible to put together a deal with the McCallisters, Novas and David Adamses of the world.

    • Jorge says:

      Lance Berkman is not a needed piece, so I would say prospects that would be worth more to other teams than they’d be worth to us, which brings us back to the Z-Mac/Phelps/Adams grab-bag. It may not be enough, and I’m not even sure I’d want to blow that wad on Berkman either.

  19. vin says:

    Eh… I’d take my chances with Miranda/Thames/Posada. Would love to see them pick up a quality catcher and move Jorge to DH, but decent, quality, catchers are obviously hard to come by.

  20. Roberto Santiago says:

    Why can’t the Yankees try their luck with Jesus Montero at DH. What’s the worse that can happen, he hits like Nick Johnson??? We can just send him back to the minors.

  21. OXXBOW says:

    Berkman would add nothing to the Yankees.

  22. MattG says:

    Love the idea of Berkman. I’ll go through this thread and find why some aren’t excited.

    “and then against righties the team can rotate its regulars”

    I dislike this concept. I’d rather give guys whole days off, and have a potent bat on the bench to hit for Pena/Cervelli/Curtis, then use the DH to rest regulars. 1: DHing isn’t a day off 2: Regulars are often lousy DHs 3: keeping the bat in the line-up, as a benefit, is a myth–35 year old guys can do a day without swinging and maintain their ability to hit. In fact, I would argue the full day off would do wonders for many players’ swings.

  23. j_Yankees says:

    Nightengale hot off the presses:

    “#mlb #astros The Astros are very much willing to move Berkman, but there is no urgency, knowing he will clear waivers and be traded in Aug.”

    /this is true.

  24. TheMick7 says:

    Brandon Tierney,yesterday on Wheelhouse, brought up an interesting alternative to all that have been mentioned. He says the Angels are now looking to be sellers not buyers & Matsui would be available to the Yankees at a relatively inexpensive cost. If that is the case,run,don’t walk Cash & bring back a guy we never should have let go in he first place. Heck,he’s already hit 3 HRs at the Stadium this year!

    • Steve H says:

      It’s a great idea except for the fact that he’s not having a good season.

    • bexarama says:

      No, he’s having a totally meh year. If we could get him for a total nonprospect, I guess, but I wouldn’t even give up, say, Nova/Phelps/MacAllister for him. Like Ben said yesterday, if there was some 36-YO DH-only with his numbers named Jack Sprat, no one would really want to go after him.

      And before you say “but he’d hit better hitting in YS!” his numbers on the road last year were better than his numbers in YS, try again.

  25. TheMick7 says:

    Steve, Put him back in Pinstripes,swinging for RF & I think his season will vastly improve!

  26. CTYANKS says:

    How about instead of going after someone in a trade, we go after Jermaine Dye who is still a Free Agent. Thoughts?

  27. rob says:

    joba straight up for berkman? then they could deal lidstrom, lyon

  28. TheMick7 says:

    Matsui was never a great hitter! A very good hitter & clutch hitter yes! You stat guys kill me….4 months into a season & Matsui can’t hit anymore. Haven’t the last few years shown you anything about Hideki????

  29. Mike HC says:

    I like Thames as DH against Lefties. I highly doubt the Yanks could bring in any other DH at a reasonable price that would warrant replacing Thames against lefties. So really, the only hole is a righty DH, and I think Miranda is just fine. I don’t see a real need to trade for a DH. I see a need for a utility infielder though. Now that I think about it, I guess another bat couldn’t hurt if we give up nothing, Hinske style.

    • Mrs. Peterson-Kekich says:

      Agree 100%. I really don’t get the man-lust for DH’s here. The biggest change the Yankees have made in the last couple years is recognizing the need for roster flexibility as opposed to one-dimensional sluggers.

      Probably, between giving Jorge, A-Rod, Jeter, etc. some breaks by DH’ing them, that’s 2-3 a week right there. Thames is fine vs. lefties. So what’s the big advantage of a Dunn if we have to bat Pena anyway?

      How about Figgins? He’s not as bad as he’s been this year and the M’s aren’t going anywhere.

    • MattG says:

      except that’s two roster spots, with no position flexibility. Down the stretch, it would be really nice to give the 35+ crowd some full days off, and in the playoffs, it would be really nice to have a bat on the bench. If you can replace Thames/Miranda with one player, you should.

  30. TheMick7 says:

    But you’d bring in Delgado who’s best suited at hitting in Old Timers Day games. I forgot 4 months is a lifetime for some fans and October 2009 is light years passed! Wow just wow!

    • Please, please, use the reply button, or you’re going to get ignored.

    • October 2009 ? August 2010.

      • Furthermore:

        Hideki Matsui, October 2009 against a shitty Phillies pitching staff: .615/.643/1.385 (!) in 14 PA
        Hideki Matsui, October 2009 against a fairly good Twins and Angels pitching staffs: .233/.395/.367 in 38 PA

        Hideki didn’t have a good postseason. He had a good World Series, which pretty much consisted of little more than 3 homers, two of which were off the desiccating corpse of Pedro Martinez.

        That WS MVP is drastically overinflated in the minds of Yankees fans. HazMat was just in the right place at the right time.

        • Mike HC says:

          I get the hole small sample size thing. But I honestly find it a little odd how you so easily dismiss something as huge as winning a WS MVP. It is not like it is something easy to do. Or he got lucky or something. Coming through on the biggest stage has to count for something more and should not be dismissed only because it is a small sample size.

          I have to go, so if you want to reply, I will come back and look later today.

          • rob says:

            Agreed…if we wanted someone who just put up stats in the regular season and SUCKED in the playoffs we would still have soriano…clutch hitting is so ridiculously important..small sample size or not…how many times did hideki come through?

          • But I honestly find it a little odd how you so easily dismiss something as huge as winning a WS MVP. It is not like it is something easy to do. Or he got lucky or something.

            2002 WS MVP: David Eckstein.

            The prosecution rests.

          • bexarama says:

            Oh, Mike. You’re smarter than this. I do agree tsjc was a bit too dismissive of Matsui’s 2009 WS, but… you’re smarter than this.

            But I honestly find it a little odd how you so easily dismiss something as huge as winning a WS MVP. It is not like it is something easy to do. Or he got lucky or something

            Yeah, really good players have won WS MVPs before. But so have Livan Hernandez (despite allowing 8 ER in his 13.2 IP…), Scott Brosius, Troy Glaus, and David Eckstein.

            Coming through on the biggest stage has to count for something more and should not be dismissed only because it is a small sample size.

            That’s not the point. The point is that it doesn’t guarantee future success. Cole Hamels won NLCS and WS MVP in 2008 and completely blew in the postseason the next year. Now people think of him as a choker.

            It’s not like a WS MVP is a guarantee of excellent performance the next year. The last time before Matsui that the Yankees didn’t resign their WS MVP who entered free agency after the series, it turned out okay. You can whine about Nick Johnson all you like but I think the Yankees’ 2010 is going just fine without Matsui.

        • FIPster Doofus says:

          I don’t want Matsui back either, but he did a lot of good things for the Yankees over the years. Bashing him and his accomplishments seems unnecessary.

  31. rob says:

    i guess im in the minority..but i like guillen, reminds me of danny tartabull (Maybe the KC Yankees Link)

  32. Guy says:

    Adam Dunn Alternative Part 3: Jack Cust

    Yet another designated hitter on a bad team with good power, tons of strikeouts and a great batter’s eye. Discuss…

  33. Dante says:

    If you’re open to a DH “type” with questionable knees…consider Matsui over Berkman. After being swept by the Suxsox this week maybe the Angels will turn seller.
    Matsui’s return would trump a Berkman or a Dunn in my opinion. There’s a guy who knows the team and the pitchers in the league.
    How about a Hideki homecoming….Mr. Cashman????

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