I’ve had quite a people asking me about the Price Fielder signing and my response has been consistent. I really like the fact we’ll have Prince on the team the next couple of years, but I don’t like the fact that we have locked up for nine years. Let’s break this down one at a time.
The Tigers were exposed in the playoffs. While they have some really great bats, they also have quite a few holes in their lineup. Then Victor Martinez went down with a knee injury and that left an even bigger hole. Their solution is Prince Fielder. He’s finished in the top three in the NL MVP three times already and his worst OPS+ in the past five years is 130. The last time he didn’t hit 30 home runs was 2006. This guy can mash and he’s also drawn more then 100 walks the past three seasons. He’s been durable and he’s missed just one game the past three seasons. This is a big league bat and he’s definitely going to help us. He also makes us the favorite in a weak AL Central. I still don’t think we’re as good as the Yankees, Rangers or Angels but once you get into the playoffs, all bets are off.
Now let’s look at the contract. Fielder turns 28 in May. That means we have him until 37. I’m interested to see how the contract was stacked but if it’s backloaded, that makes it even tougher. If he’s with the team for five years, his 10/5 no-trade kicks in so that means he’s going to be near impossible to trade. If you look at his similar batters, you see quite a few people who flamed out pretty quick but there’s also a couple of hall of famers if you just look at the “similar batters through age 27.”
Now the big question is, what happens next. You can never isolate one signing because it creates a domino effect of sorts. What happens when Victor Martinez comes back in 2013 (although the fact that they signed Fielder leads me to believe Martinez’s injury may be worse than advertised). Miguel Cabrera at third base would hurt the pitching staff even more then an already weak defense has the past couple of years. Also, what happens to Nick Castellanos, the Tigers top hitting prospect? Does he now become trade bait to pick up another pitcher?
Regardless, I’d like to welcome Prince to the team. I was a big fan of his dad’s and remember listening to a scratchy radio broadcast of him hitting his 50th home run when I was in college (WJR made it out to East Lansing back then). It’s been a while since anyone has hit 40 home runs in a Tigers uniform and I think Fielder has a great chance at being the first since his dad in 1991.
Spring training hasn’t even started and the Tigers have already been dealt a major blow. Victor Martinez was working out and it looks like he tore his ACL in his left knee. He’s getting a second opinion but if it holds, Victor Martinez will probably miss the entire 2012 season.
Martinez had an .850 OPS last season and that’s going to be tough to replace. It’ll be interesting to see what the Tigers do at this point but I guess on a good note, they only have to fill the designated hitter spot so they can just look for the best bat without regard for defense. Not good. It’s interesting that one of the names that’s being thrown around is former Tiger Carlos Pena.
In other news, the Tigers signed all of their arbitration eligible players. Phil Coke and Rick Porcello were signed yesterday and today, Max Scherzer, Delmon Young and Don Kelly all signed deals. Young is going to be paid $6.75 million which I think is a bit much but in light of the V-Mart injury, we need all of the just mediocre bats we can find.
This may have been my biggest drought yet. In my defense, the Tigers haven’t been doing much so my usual “I’m really busy” note can take a back seat to the fact that the Tigers have been so quiet. We have a little more then a month to go until pitchers and catchers report and the biggest move the Tigers have made was Octavio Dotel. Yawn (although any help to the pen is a good thing, it just doesn’t excite me).
There were some rumors thrown around that the Tigers were looking at a trade for Matt Garza that would have included Jacob Turner. Jacob Turner has been showing up in the top ten of a lot of MLB prospect lists so you have to be careful but you don’t have to look too much further then Andrew Miller to realize that sometimes a known commodity is better then the potential prospect. Turner is a lot younger then Miller was back then and he’s shown his stuff in the minors so I don’t want to deal him out of hand but Matt Garza had a really nice year for the Cubs last year and he’ll really help shore up the pen. It’s the cost that’s the big factor though because Garza is getting close to free agency where as we’d have Turner locked up for three years before we even had to consider arbitration.
The Tigers also seem to be major players in the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes. The Marlins appear to be the front runner but it’s not that the Tigers aren’t trying and I’ve seen $50 million as a number that’s been thrown around. Right now Cespedes has been showing his stuff in the Dominican Winter League and it looks like he might be granted free agency at any time. I’ve talked about how I’m not really high on Delmon Young and if Cespedes lives up to his billing, he should be a nice upgrade.
Right now, I’m just excited for some baseball. Late February can’t get here fast enough.