Bergman Should Not be a Rays Option
This is one slugging Free Agent I had hoped the Tampa Bay Rays would avoid like a plaque. Not that his lifetime .296 average and 360 Home Runs do not make you salivate a bit, but Lance Bergman to me is “Pat Burrell Part 2” if the team did sign him. This is not to say Berkman could fill the gaping First Base hole and possibly the Designated Hitter slot in the Rays anemic line-up, but I truly feel he is just 1 injury away from tossing his glove into the bag for good.
I would hate to see Bergman come here with the Rays Republic’s high expectation that he can make us forget the Burrell, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon and Luke Scott DH fiasco’s from the past. Sure his defensive skills at first base might be light-years above anyone the Rays currently have in their system, but when a guy goes through 2 knee surgeries in a season (2012), you have to enter into any discussions with an air of caution. Seriously, hasn’t the Rays Medical staff had to tape, bandage and use ointments on enough players over the last 2 seasons to warrant someone coming in healthy this Spring and beyond.
You also have to be a bit weary when Berkman tells the media in an interview he “wants to be paid like a 3-hole hitter”. That in itself might and should be the red flag the Rays need to turn their attentions towards another target. Can this team afford even thinking about a player who might want to command a 8 figure salary who also has shown bouts of injury time sprinkled into his great career numbers. Considering the St. Louis Cardinals paid Bergman $8 million for 2012 and he only played in around 32 game during that season and was out significantly early on in the Cards. This Rays franchise can not handle another “Burrell” moment with tight payroll that should again be near the $ 70-million dollar threshold.
This is a guy who many teams are doing the old “kicking the tires” mode on Bergman right now, and hopefully the Rays are just being diligent and checking in on Bergman without any serious want for his services. Sure Bergman could be the Rays answer to a few holes in their field or line-up alignment, but not at a time when his health and season long durability has question marks all over them. I truly hope the Rays did just do the diligent thing and just check in on Bergman with no real want for him because even a 15-day Disabled List stint with no clear back-up plan in the mix could become a huge personnel thorn in the Rays side as this team again tires to establish some dominance in the American League East.
Some might take the notion I’m a bit shell-shocked still by the whole “Burrell Era”, and they might be right. I know this team can not have another player who goes down even short-term with nagging injuries like Burrell did in his Rays tenure. This team of course can not guarantee their player’s health will stay at an optimum at any time, but taking on a health risk like Bergman is not in the Rays best financial interest. Leave Bergman for someone else, this team can and will find better.