No matter how well the Cardinals are doing, they do not get a lot of media attention. So unless they are winning a World Series or one of their guys throws a no-no, you rarely seem them on the front page of mlb.com, which is saying something considering they have a couple of the most feared hitters in the game.
But today they have something that is news. The Cardinals are opening up a series at Houston. Big deal, right? Nobody cares about a couple of NL Central teams duking it out. Except that this means that former ‘Stro Lance Berkman is returning to the place he became a star. Berkman played 12 years with the Astros before getting traded to the Yankees late last season. The Yankee-experiment flopped, which means that he was looking for a new home for the first time since his career began in 1999. And he found it with the Cardinals.
Personally, I was excited about the Berkman acquisition. I know he’s getting older and has some health issues. And some thought his power numbers were declining, but I thought it was worth a shot. If he could be even half as good as he has shown he can be, it could really boost the Cardinals lineup. And you can’t argue with the veteran presence.
Every Cardinal fan knew what it meant to fear the bat of Berkman. Whether the Astros were in postseason contention or bringing up the cellar, they had a way of always coming back and stinging the Cardinals. And sometimes Berkman did it singlehandedly. I used to dread him coming up to the plate from the left side, slightly hunched over stance and watch him unload on our pitchers, making those Crawford boxes the most evil things I knew. I knew if we could harness his power for good…..ok, a bit much there. But you know what I’m saying.
As it turns out, he has been twice the Berkman we thought we were getting. Not that anyone expects him to keep up this torrid pace, but for now, I’ll take it.
He’s hitting .377 / .449 / .725, significantly over his career line of .297 / .409 / .725. He continues to tee off of opposing pitchers, already at 6 home runs on the season, with 15 RBI. The really good news is that when players return to their old ballparks to face old teams, they tend to do really well. I’m hoping this will be no different for Berkman.
So the question of the day is a two parter:
1) How many extra-base hits with Berkman get this series?
2) How many times will he reach the Crawford boxes?
Berkman looks good in red,