Lance Berkman left last night’s game against the Dodgers after an apparent left knee injury when he stretched a bit too far for a throw from short stop Rafael Furcal on a play at first. Although the extent of the injury is not yet known, Berkman feels as though it’s very serious. Serious enough that he is apparently considering retirement, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“If I’ve re-torn my ACL or something like that, I’d certainly get it fixed but you don’t know how psychologically you’re going to come back from something like that,” Berkman said. “I’m not talking from the standpoint of being scared of hurting it again. I’m talking about doing everything it takes to come back and play again at an elite level. I think that’s a legitimate question I’m going to have to answer if, in fact, it turns out to be something more serious than we hope that it is.
“I’ll be glad to get some more definitive answers tomorrow. Then you map out your strategies and go from there.”
The 36-year-old will make $12-million this season and he has appeared in just 13 games so far, posting a .333/.429/.571 slash line with a homer in 49 plate appearances.
The Cardinals have called up highly-touted first base prospect Matt Adams to fill the void. Adams had posted an impressive .338/.373/.597 slash line with 9 home runs in 150 plate appearances at AAA-Memphis in the Pacific Coast League prior to the call-up.
If this is the end for Berkman, it’s a sad end to what has been an outstanding, borderline Hall of Fame career. In parts of 14 seasons mainly with the Astros, but also with the Yankees and Cardinals, Berkman has posted a .296/.409/.546 career slash line with 359 home runs and a 146 wRC+. During his peak between 2001 and 2008, only Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Carlos Beltran posted a higher fWAR than his 47.1 mark.
In his career, he ranks 145th all-time in fWAR among position players, just behind Bobby Doerr and Jimmy Wynn and just ahead of Vladimir Guerrero and Luis Gonzalez.
The loss of Berkman is no small issue for the Cardinals who could get decent production out of Adams, but obviously it’s hard to replicate what they were expecting from Berkman. Other veterans on the team such as Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran are also significant injury risks and if their health comes into question at some point this season, the Cards offense could find itself in dire straits.
Look for them to try and remedy the situation with an outside acquisition if Adams gets off to a slow start in the next couple weeks. Derrek Lee might want to sit by his phone.