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Prince Fielder Thoughts

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.

I think what it comes down to is Ilitch is in a “win now” mood. He’s willing to take the risk that it is a bad contract in a few years for the opportunity to be competitive for a championship the next few years. If he gets his championship, he’ll be happy and can accept if this becomes a dog of a deal in later years. And if the Tigers regularly get to the playoffs in the next few years, the extra revenue generated will take the sting off the money being spent.

Posted by Randy LeVasseur on February 4th, 2012 at 7:10 pm

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