ST. LOUIS -- Lance Berkman's honesty is one of his best-known traits, and it usually serves him quite well. On Thursday, it created a little bit of a headache for the veteran star.
Berkman reportedly told a Houston radio station that part of why he joined the Cardinals rather than the Rangers was that he didn't have a great deal of faith in Texas' prospects for 2011. He also voiced some skepticism over Texas' signing of third baseman Adrian Beltre. Neither view sat well with Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson, who reportedly responded on a Dallas radio station.
According to ESPNDallas.com, Berkman told AM 1560 in Houston:
"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. 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."
Berkman told reporters recently in St. Louis that he instructed his agent to pursue opportunities with five teams: St. Louis, Houston, Texas, Colorado and Atlanta. Of those, he said, the Cardinals were the most aggressive. He signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Redbirds in December.
At the Cards' annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival, he talked up St. Louis as the favorite in the National League.
"If there's a better team in the National League, I don't know who they are," he said. "On paper, you can talk about the Phillies, and obviously they have a great pitching staff. But we can pitch with anybody and we can hit with anybody. We have a great team. Everybody ought to be excited, because if people stay healthy, and if guys perform like they have in the past and like they're capable of, we have as good a team as there is, not just in the National League but in baseball. I feel like this is a legitimate World Series contender."
In response to Berkman's comments about the Rangers, Wilson reportedly told 103.3 FM in Dallas:
"I think it's funny. 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.'"
Berkman also, according to the site, told the radio station that Beltre's Texas contract -- worth a guaranteed $80 million over five years -- is "pretty much of a reach for him."
Unsurprisingly, Wilson spoke up for his new teammate.
"Adrian Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, and he's a pretty good hitter as well," Wilson reportedly told the Dallas radio station. "I don't know if anyone knows he hit .340 last year, which is definitely better than .220. I'm pretty stoked about having him on my team."