Notable Numerals: Lance Berkman, Jorge Cantu and More

Last week’s Notable Numerals touched a bit on the some of the early trades in what I called a pseudo-trade themed column. This week, just days after the non-waiver trade deadline, the column is 100% focused on players that were traded and how they will impact their new team for the remainder of the 2010 campaign. In many cases, these players have gone from stinkers to winners in one day, so their ability to adjust on the fly and jump into a playoff race is critical. Let the fun begin!

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Walks for Lance Berkman, ranking him 7th in the MLB in that category. Berkman was traded from the Houston Astros to New York Yankees at the deadline and could provide a vital piece for the already strong playoff push for the Yanks. With the injury to Nick Johnson for the Yankees, they had a need for a power-hitting first baseman and Berkman could fill that role with ease. Despite a below normal season for the 6’1”, 230 lb monster, he has a career .296 average with 326 total home runs and 1,090 rbis in 1,594 career games.

Berkman has hit 20+ home runs each season since 2000, his first full year in the bigs and maxed out at a whopping 45 in 2006. Berk can certainly crush the ball and when he is hitting for a decent average, can be a threat at any time. The move to the Yankees is great for Berk, because he literally went from worst to first, going from a 5th place NL Central team with a 45-59 rcord to the 1st place AL East team with best record in the game this year at 66-38. The move also allows Berkman to play a role in a stacked lineup, instead of being the focal point for opposing pitchers. Hitting in a lineup with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixiera provides just a little protection and will allow him to raise his batting average.

Besides going for a bad team to a contender, the Yankees are a great fit for Berkman’s style of play. Berk likes to work the count, as shown in his high walk total, and wears down the opposition. That mentality is also reflected in the Yankees’ lineup on a daily basis, where patience leads to opportunities. Berk should feel right at home in the Big Apple.

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Doubles for Jorge Cantu, now of the Texas Rangers. The biggest surprise of the 2010 season has been the dominance of the Texas Rangers and their emergence as a real World Series contender. They have a young, talented pitching staff and a lineup that has now been bulstered even more with the addition of Jorge Cantu at the deadline. Cantu has spent the past 2.5 seasons with the Florida Marlins, putting up impressive numbers at the corner infield positions. His versatility and offensive spark makes the Rangers even that much more dangerous down the stretch.

Cantu has spent time throughout his career at every infield position, focusing mostly on 3rd and 1st base, allowing the Rangers the option of moving him around to give Michael Young a break at 3rd on occasion. Combined this season, Cantu has hit 10 home runs (giving him an even 100 for his career) and has driven in 54 rbis in 100 games. I’m sure the Rangers would love to see Cantu be just a bit more selective at the plate, because he has struck out on 76 occasions and walked only 23 times, which is one of the reasons his on-base percentage is the 2nd lowest of his career at .310.

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At-bats for Miguel Tejada in his 14th major league season. Miguel Tejada is nothing if he is not consistent. Since 1999, Tejada has appeared in less than 158 games once, in 2007 when he appeared in 133 games. From 2001-2006, Tejada didn’t miss a single game and has accumulated 7,731 plate appearances for his strong career. This season marked the homecoming to Baltimore for Tejada who spent 4 seasons there before heading out to the NL and playing for the Houston Astros. Unfortunately for him, his 2nd stint with the Orioles didn’t go quite as well as he expected.

In 97 games with the Orioles, Tejada hit .269 with 7 home runs and 39 rbis, enough to get him shipped out of town at the trade deadline. The 1st place San Diego Padres added Tejada to try and continue building a bigger lead in the NL West. The 36-year old shortstop is just 8 home runs shy of 300 and is just 29 at-bats shy of 2,000 for his career. Despite making the playoffs 4 times with the Oakland Athletics from 2000-2003, Tejada has never made it out of the Divisional Series, but now that he is playing for a World Series contender, he may finally get a chance to play deeper into October.

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Era for new Tampa Bay Rays reliever Chad Qualls. I understand when a team needs to add another arm or two to add depth to their bullpen, but when the Rays traded for Chad Qualls, I couldn’t help but scratch my head. In 44 games this year, Qualls has the high era mentioned above and sits with a 1-4 record and just 12 for 16 in save opportunities. The Rays, along with many other teams, were looking for a 7th inning reliever to strengthen the back of their bullpen, but instead they got a dud.

Qualls had an ok year in 2009 with the Diamondbacks, saving 24 of 29 opportunities and ending the year with a 3.63 era, but has proven to be unreliable in late game situations, saving just 51 games in 81 chances over his 7 year career with the Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks and now Tampa Bay Rays. With the moves the Yankees made, it was surprising to see the Rays and Red Sox remain as stagnant as they did, which could come back to bite them down the stretch.

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Home runs allowed by Ted Lilly in 18 starts for the Chicago Cubs. The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired the lefty starting pitcher at the deadline, as they look to beef-up their starting rotation down the stretch. Lilly is just 3-8 on the season with a 3.69 era, but the Dodgers believe he will thrive in the change of scenery and with a better offense behind him to improve his run support. The problem for Lilly this year has been the high number of home runs he has allowed, giving up just 3 less than all of last year in 9 fewer starts.

So far in 2010, Lilly has allowed an opponent batting average of .236 and should be a decent end of the rotation guy for Joe Torre’s Dodgers. By pitching in the 4th or 5th slot in the rotation, it allows Lilly to pitch with less pressure and just concentrate on adding to his 106 career win mark. Currently, Lilly’s 3.69 era ties him for his 2nd best mark in his 12 year career, which is certainly a promising sign that he can have some success in LA. The problem for the dodgers is that despite having a 54-51 record, they find themselves 8 games back in 4th place in the NL West with a lot of digging to do if they want to contend.

Brian Phair – BoSox Injection – Notable Numerals

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Tags: AL East Alex Rodriguez Arizona Diamondbacks Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox Chad Qualls Chicago Cubs Derek Jeter Florida Marlins Houston Astros Jorge Cantu LA Dodgers Lance Berkman Mark Teixiera Michael Young Miguel Tejada New York Yankees NL Central NL West Notable Numerals Oakland A's San Diego Padres Tampa Bay Rays Ted Lilly Texas Rangers

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