Astros first baseman Lance Berkman has been one of the best, if not most unheralded sluggers of the last decade. Since his first full season in 2000, a typical season for Fat Elvis has consisted of a .301/.414/.558 batting line with over 30 homers and 100 RBI. After slumping big time this April (.162/.326/.392), he's managed to rebound and is hitting .300/.419/.522 since May 1st.
But now, as MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports, the 33-yr old first baseman is unsure if he'll play after his contract expires next year. Berkman has one more season left on the six year, $85MM contract he signed prior to the 2005 season, but the team holds a $15MM option for his services in 2011. If the option is declined, they'll pay him a $2MM buyout.
Here's Berkman's quotes from McTaggart's article:
"I'm going to play next year because I'm under contract, and if they pick up the option, we'll see where I'm at after that year," he said. "That's kind of how I'm viewing it."
"I don't think that's fair to the team or to me," he said. "If I'm not going to perform a level I'm comfortable with, I'm not going to play. I'm going to play next year because I'm obligated to play. I'm going to give as a good of an effort as I can, and see what happens. If I have a good year and they pick the option up, I'll be committed for another year.
"I don't want to hang around. I don't want to hamstring the organization, and I don't want to take away from my family and things like that. If I'm not as productive as I want to be, I'll take it to the house."
Thanks to the April slump, Berkman is hitting a career low .272 and is slugging under .510 for the first time in his career. Most players would consider .272/.400/.496 with 18 homers and a 79/81 K/BB ratio a career year. For Berkman, it's enough to consider hanging up the spikes.