With news today of Lance Berkman’s retirement, I thought it would be fun to look back, not at his career, but how the Astros trading him to the Yankees is still impacting the franchise.
Only July 31, 2010, Houston traded Berkman to New York in exchange for RHP Mark Melancon and INF Jimmy Parades.
In over two and a half seasons in Scranton, New York’s AAA affiliate and regional paper supplier, Melancon was striking out about a batter an inning and had an ERA below 3.
Melancon took over the closer’s role in 2011 for the Astros and recorded 20 saves. According to baseball-reference, he was the Astros’ most valuable pitcher not named Wandy Rodriguez, posting a WAR of 0.9.
Lowrie brought a level of talent to the Astros’ shortstop position that had not been there in a long time. In 2012, he finished the season with a 2.2 WAR, good for second best on the team and tenth best all-time for a Houston shortstop. Even more impressive, Lowrie put those numbers up in just 97 games due to injuries.
Ultimately, GM Jeff Luhnow saw the oft-injured Lowrie as a risk and not worthy of the inevitable expensive contract coming his way. Luhnow swapped Lowrie with
Brad Pitt Billy Bean, receiving Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi in return.
As for the other half of the Berkman trade, Jimmy Parades was claimed off of waivers by the Marlins, leaving Astros fans with a heart full of disappointment and a strange bruise on their head.
In the end, trading Lance Berkman has brought seven different players to the Astros, four of which are still in the organization. Carter and Peacock both spent significant time at the major league level last season, and Stassi made the jump from AA to Houston before taking a pitch off of his indestructible jaw.
Some say Kyle is still out there, somewhere on Weiland Island, biding his time before returning to baseball.
Berkman will be sorely missed by the game of baseball, especially by those who watched him in Houston. Hopefully his absence stings a bit less knowing there are now four Astros who have taken his place.