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MLB Notebook: Berkman's Resurgence, Sanchez's Near No-No, Braun's Extension

Rod Barajas (28) of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out Lance Berkman (12) of the St Louis Cardinals during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Rod Barajas (28) of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out Lance Berkman (12) of the St Louis Cardinals during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Last Thursday, SB Nation New York celebrated Major League Baseball season turning three-weeks old by publishing its first notebook of the year. Now, every Monday morning visit us for our weekly MLB notebook that will cover the top baseball stories of the week, provide a fantasy baseball tip which promises to make your team better, and react to comments from readers, tweeters or facebookers (you can reach me at: or Jared_E_Smith) that have something to say.

The mission for SB Nation New York's MLB Notebook is to provide a forum for New York-area baseball fans to talk about something other then Yankees or Mets. So, without further delay let's get to my top stories of the last week:

Lance Berkman's resurgence in St. Louis: For a few months last season, New York-area baseball fans saw Berkman wearing pinstripes. In that short time (42 games, including five in the postseason), Berkman didn't post very impressive numbers. Only a solid Game-2 performance against the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division Series helped the Big Puma not get run out of town.

In the off-season and with his MLB future at a fork in the road, Berkman inked a one-year $8 million deal with the Cardinals. After a slow start (.214 batting average with no homers in eight games), the switch-hitting veteran has been outstanding, collecting six home runs, 12 RBI from April 11-17.

Currently, Berkman is hitting .377, slugging .725 which includes six homers, 15 RBI and scored 19 runs. I doubt that Berkman's 34-year-old body can keep up this pace throughout the season. However, it seems that batting behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday agrees with Berkman, who went 2-for-3 in a 3-0 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday night.

Being a Houston Astros fan, it's nice to see Berkman find some success after many experts thought his career was over. Now, I am not too happy that's with the Cardinals, a rival to Houston, but it won't matter because the 'Stros have one of the league's worst records at 8-14 overall. St. Louis (12-10) leads the NL Central by a half-game over the Milwaukee Brewers (11-10).

Ryan Braun is staying in Milwaukee forever: On Thursday, the Brewers extended their All-Star outfielder Braun for another five years ($105 million). In 2008, Braun signed an eight-year $45 million deal that would keep in Miller Park until 2015. Braun will now be a Brewer until the 2020 season, which is the franchise's longest commitment to any franchise player.

As a baseball fan, it's tough to argue against committing long-term to Braun, who's just 26 years old and already a three-time All-Star. If I was starting a franchise, Braun would be on my top five list of players to do it with.

(For more on Braun and he's new contract visit SB Nation's Brew Crew Ball.)

Florida's Anibal Sanchez near no-no: On Friday, Sanchez took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the league's best team, the Colorado Rockies, but came up empty in a 4-1 Marlins victory. Colorado's outfielder Dexter Fowler led off the top of the ninth with a base hit to right field.

At the time, Sanchez had walked three batters, struck out nine and surrendered an unearned first-inning run -- "Fowler led off the game with a walk, and moved to second base on a passed ball. Three batters later, Fowler scored when first baseman Gaby Sanchez dropped a throw and Troy Tulowitzki reached safely".

Now, I have MLB.TV's Premium package so, I was able to catch the last few innings of Sanchez's dance with a no-hitter. As he entered the ninth inning, I couldn't help how dirty I felt for rooting for a no-hitter that already featured a run and three walks. When Fowler collected the hit, I took a deep breath and applauded the great show that Sanchez put on, but celebrated that a sloppy no-no didn't happen. It was a great pitching performance, but it just wasn't historically good.

However, I am curious how other baseball fans feel about this. Do you care how a no-hitter is completed? Or is a no-hitter a no-hitter no matter what happens during the game?

Weekly nugget No. 1: On Sunday, Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay struck out a career-high 14 in a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres. SB Nation's Grant Brisbee had this reaction:

"I read 'Roy Halladay matched his career high with 14 strikeouts' in a recap, and it surprised me that he'd only done that once. I wondered how many 14-plus strikeout games there have been since 2000.

First note: it's rarer than I thought. Only 34 pitchers have done it in 11 seasons. Tim Lincecum has done it exactly as many times as Ron Villone, which is once.

Second note: Randy Johnson did it 18 times. Good gravy."

Weekly nugget No. 2: On Saturday, I hit the links for the first time this year. I posted scores of 51 and 55 for a total of 106 (34-over par). Now, as you can tell I am not the local club ringer, but I was happy with my performance considering that I had half a dozen four-putts and just as many three-putts. I probably hit 75 percent of the fairways and had four chances for a birdie that turned into a bogey (one turned into a double bogey).

As an honest golfer, I count every stroke (yes, even that one-footer that just misses because of frustration) because I believe I am not good enough to cheat. So, with all that said, I think I played well enough to return the golf course again sometime in the next month. It's funny how the game of golf does that.

SBNY's Fantasy Baseball Advice: If you're one of those owners that was banking on Mets' outfielder Angel Pagan to have a breakout season and pissed that he's not performing (.159 batting average with one homer and four stolen bases) and is now on the 15-day DL. No worries because there's a player out there, Tampa Bay Rays Sam Fuld, that's probably still available in your league.

Fuld has been solid as the Rays leadoff hitter (.346, one homer and 10 SBs) and looks to be at least a solid option until he or Tampa Bay cools off.