Fantasy Articles

I still think of Lance Berkman as one of the Killer B's, the heart of a Houston Astros team that was still a good one.  For many years Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman made the center of that lineup one to be feared.  That seems a long time ago.  It's hard to remember that Berkman was the baby of the bunch and that he's still not old, or even that much past his prime by baseball standards.

The 35-year-old Berkman has played for 12 years, but only in the past two have expectations for the slugger really diminished.  His games played per season fell from roughly 150 per season to 136 in 2009 to just 122 in 2010 as injuries to his knees and wrists set in.

 

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Lance Berkman in left field
Photo by blinky5, used under  creative commons license.
Before that you could pencil him in for 35-45 home runs and a .300 average.  So while everyone is calling this season a surprise, or a comeback, it's not really. It's just the first healthy season that Berkman has enjoyed since having surgery on his left knee back in 2009.  Clearly he's back to his old form and can be so long as the knee and wrist hold up.

 

But can you count on him staying healthy?  That's a hard question to answer, and perhaps one that a clever fantasy player might prefer someone else to take.  The knee has been treated gingerly in the past, and only Berkman knows how close it is to "normal" and how much he trusts it.

And if the knee doesn't concern you, perhaps the wrist should.  I know it would concern me and have me looking to deal Berkman if he were on any of my fantasy teams.   Wrist injuries always concern me because so much of a batter's power comes from the wrists and this type of injury tends to linger and take a long time to heal.

Officially there is just inflammation of the wrist and a cortisone injection has been given.  I'd call that a warning that Berkman will see a fall of in power the second half and that the injury could flare up again at any time resulting in more missed games.

So would I trust him?  Probably not, but if I could buy him low enough I'd probably give him a shot.  Right now I'd be selling and selling as high as I could to someone desperate for power and average.

Another big question mark is hurler Bartolo Colon of the Yankees.  Another comeback player whose weight, injury history and bizarre medical treatment this offseason leaves us questioning his ability to stay healthy and be productive to the point that he's only owned in 48% of Yahoo leagues despite his 3.10 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.

If he hadn't just injured a hamstring and headed to the 15 day DL, I'd be sold that Colon was worth picking up for the rest of the season.  He's a player who seems to have regained his form, be it by magic, HGH, stem cells or just by hard work.   And Colon when healthy has always been a top level pitcher.

However Colon is an all-or-nothing gamble, since even in most competitive formats he won't have a huge amount of trade value.  If he comes back and still pitches well, he'll be worth owning for the win totals generated by the Yankees offense so long as the peripherals are decent.  If he doesn't and this hamstring injury lingers, or affects his motion he's more of a candidate for a cut than for a trade.

Still if I had to pick one of the two to gamble on I'd take Colon due to the small risk-high reward value, as opposed to Berkman where I'd have to pay more in terms of talent to acquire him.