Lance Berkman calls American League champion Rangers 'average'
The Angels might not be favored to beat the Texas Rangers in the American League West, but Lance Berkman all but called the AL champions a one-year wonder.
Berkman, who considered joining the Rangers in free agency this winter before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, said he envisions Texas as "an average team" next season.
"I felt like if they didn't re-sign Cliff Lee that they were going to be an average team, and I feel that's probably what's going to end up happening," Berkman said in a radio interview Thursday. "It's all about your pitching. I feel like last year was one of those special years where you kind of catch lightning in a bottle and they got hot and they had some guys that I felt like were pitching better than their talent level and consequently they had a great year."
When Texas agreed to grant third baseman Adrian Beltre a sixth-year vesting option and the Angels refused, Beltre signed with the Rangers. The contract guarantees him $80 million over five years and could be worth $96 million over six years.
"They were itching to spend some money," Berkman said. "I probably could have gotten the best deal out of them, especially in light of what they gave Adrian Beltre, which I think is pretty much of a reach for him."
Texas pitcher C.J. Wilson shot back in a radio interview on Friday.
"I think it's funny," Wilson said. "He was contemplating retirement, so I'm not going to take anything too seriously. I'm not going to get offended by anything he says. If that's a representative idea of what people around the league think, that's better for us because they're going to do the same thing and they're going to not take us seriously. If we end up stomping through the playoffs again, everyone will be like, 'Wow, what a bummer.' "
Wilson took exception to Berkman's criticism of Beltre.
"Adrian Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, and he's a pretty good hitter as well," Wilson said. I don't know if anyone knows he hit .340 last year, which is definitely better than .220."
Beltre hit .321 for the Boston Red Sox last season. Berkman hit .248 for the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
-- Bill Shaikin
(Hat tip to this report from ESPNDallas.com)
Photo: Lance Berkman. Credit: Ron Jenkins / MCT.