The St. Louis Cardinals have a new left fielder, and Lance Berkman has a new home in the NL Central. The longtime Houston Astros slugger agreed to a one-year deal with their rival Cardinals Saturday. Financial details weren't yet disclosed.
Berkman, 35, who's been primarily a first baseman since 2005, will presumably move to left field, with Matt Holliday moving to right. Prior to Berkman becoming available the Cardinals had planned on utilizing Jon Jay and Allen Craig in a platoon situation at the position. In this arrangement Jay becomes the fourth outfielder; Craig could increase his positional value by playing more frequently at third base.
Berkman hit .248/.368/.413 last season, struggling in particular after a mid-season move to the New York Yankees. In 2009 he hit .274/.399/.509, and he's a career .296/.409/.545 hitter. The Cardinals—who suggested at the start of the offseason that they were looking for a 15-20 home run type before acquiring Jake Westbrook and Ryan Theriot, appear to have gotten their man. The question is whether he can stay healthy playing a full season in the outfield.