In ESPN's Rumor Central, there's a take on what Berkman's knee injury means for the long-term:
"It's possible Berkman, now 34, is hitting the downslope of his career. In terms of his rate statistics (AVG/OBP/SLG) last year, his batting average (.274) and slugging percentage (.509) were his lowest in any full season, and his on-base percentage (.399) second-lowest since 2001. He also, for the fourth consecutive year, failed to keep his line-drive rate over 20 percent, a sign he's just not quite smoking the ball with the same authority as during his prime.
Here's the other worry: After making some improvements batting from the right side of the plate a few years back, Berkman regressed almost entirely in that department, amassing .231/.293/.418 numbers that resulted in his lowest career OPS (.710) as a right-handed hitter, not to mention his road OPS (.859) was his worst in any full season. These are all tell-tale signs of the aging process, as is the calf injury that plagued him for much of last season, as well as the knee surgery he underwent in March. Berkman began the year on the disabled list, perhaps missing a couple weeks to a month, and he's a candidate to back on the shelf at any time. He might yet bounce back once healthy, but understand that there's as much a risk that he'll keep slightly trending downward."
Berkman is going to have to have a monster year in order for the Astros to pick up his $15m option, and thank God they haven't already done that. As we mentioned in the live chat yesterday (which may become a regular feature), if anyone will overpay for Berkman, it's going to be the Astros - but $15 million for a 34-year old 1B with a bum leg is too much.