In his two-plus months in pinstripes, Lance Berkman very quickly became a media favorite in the Yankees clubhouse. He was candid and funny and approachable. A very nice guy dropped into a very odd, unexpected situation.
It was clear that he wanted to do everything in his power to help the Yankees win, but he was a role player for the first time in his career, and it was clear most of his personal ties remained in Texas.
Today, the FOX television station in Houston reported that the Astros are not likely to bring Berkman back next season (tip of the hat to MLBTradeRumors). The Astros have little choice but to rebuild, and signing a soon to be 35-year-old first baseman — whatever his ties to the organization and the city — doesn’t make enough sense.
There are plenty of connections to be made between the Berkman and Derek Jeter situations: Both are local icons within their respective franchises. Both are aging superstars, showing diminished results in 2010. Both never expected to play for any other organization.
For Berkman, the situation officially changed in July, but realistically it changed long before that when Houston began going in the tank and set the stage for a drastic and inevitable rebuilding process.
For Jeter and the Yankees, there is no rebuilding, and there is no obvious alternative for either side. There are obvious similarities between Jeter and Berkman, but it remains difficult to imagine a similar outcome.