Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dipatch is reporting that Lance Berkman now has cartilage damage to his left knee. Berkman apparently suffered the injury while compensating for his surgically repaired right knee. A recent MRI confirmed what Cardinals fans feared and Berkman is unlikely to return to a big league diamond any time soon. Berkman opted to forgo a minor league rehab assignment and rushed back to the Cardinals after having cartilage shaved from his right knee earlier this season. Now his career could be in jeopardy.
Berkman had a great career in Houston and is idolized by a high percentage of Astros fans, especially those under the age of 30. Many have stated that they wish to see Berkman return to the Astros next season, but I think that would be a big mistake.
Lance is among the career leaders in franchise history in most offensive categories and has earned his iconic status. But his last year-and-a-half in an Astros uniform resulted mostly in disappointment. When healthy, Berkman was great. But when nursing the knee injury he was atrocious. I just can’t get the unhealthy Berkman out of my mind, and that’s what we will be getting if the Astros bring back the Big Puma next season.
Like Milo Hamilton, I also felt slighted when Berkman worked harder to get into shape after signing with Cardinals. Why didn’t Lance put in the extra effort to stay in shape while on the Astros payroll?
Some Astros fans expressed their satisfaction in seeing Berkman finally achieve his goal of a World Series Championship with the Cardinals. I didn’t share those sentiments. As an Astros fan I felt no joy whatsoever in seeing anyone in a Cardinals uniform celebrate a championship, especially a guy who had given a lackluster effort in his final months as an Astro.
Berkman is not what this franchise needs right now. Jeff Luhnow and company have committed to a strategy that does not include overpaying for washed-up veterans. It would be foolish to pay millions of dollars for a 36 year-old DH with two bad knees that can’t even play on an everyday basis.