I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been putting this article off for the last few days as I’ve let the reality set in that Prince Fielder has probably taken his last at bat as a Milwaukee Brewer (at the very least until 2021). Now that the news is official, let’s take a look at what it took to bring Prince back to a city that he spent a lot of time in as a child.
2 weeks ago, Detroit’s Victor Martinez sustained a season ending ACL injury which sent the Tigers on a quest to find a replacement in the middle of their batting order. As the team made it clear that they expected to have Martinez back for their 2013 campaign, talk turned to finding a short-term replacement. Based on these criteria, Fielder seemed to be a longshot based on the contract requirements that he was seeking.
Despite the initial talk coming out of the Tigers organization, they shocked the baseball world by making the offer that most had begun to write off as potentially not happening. As the interest in Fielder had begun to dwindle over the last several weeks, with many of the potential suitors deciding to spend their money elsewhere (most recently the Rangers acquisition of Yu Darvish), the likely landing pad for Fielder had begun to look like Washington. This of course would not have been surprising as Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, represents a large portion of their roster. But, it was Detroit who dug deep and pulled the strings necessary to get the deal done.
The deal will make Fielder a Tiger for the next 9 years (through the 2020 season) and carries a price tag of $214 million. Not bad when you consider that Fielder, now 27, will be 36 when the deal expires.
Like Father, Like Son?
It is no secret that relations between Prince and his father, former Tiger’s slugger Cecil Fielder, are icy to say the least. This is why I, and many others in the baseball community, were shocked that Prince was planning on joining one of his dad’s former clubs. And, apparently, his father can be counted amongst those numbers.
According to USA Today, the elder Fielder was quoted as saying:
“I didn’t even see Detroit in the picture. I didn’t even see that happening with all the talk about the Nationals and Texas Rangers and Seattle. … I never saw Detroit making a move like this.”
The Role of Prince
So what will Fielder’s role be now that he has moved over to an American League squad with a star first baseman? Well, first base of course! It seems that Miguel Cabrera was more than happy to shift back to 3rd base, a position that he has previous experience at, in order to accommodate the acquisition of Fielder. Cabrera, it seems, is even looking forward to the opportunity to play next to Fielder.
The 2012 Season
So, will the acquisition of Fielder be the difference maker in terms of Detroit making it to the World Series in 2012? Well, it certainly won’t hurt. One thing that Fielder and his new team need to keep in mind this season is the effect that the power alleys in Comerica Park may have on Prince’s numbers. As they are deeper than those found in his former home, Miller Park, this may lead to a reduction in the sluggers extra bases.
Overall, the deal should be a win-win for both sides, as it provides Fielder with the numbers that he was looking for in a long-term deal, while addressing Detroit’s needs in the heart of their order. Watch out AL Central, the Motor City Kitties are on the prowl again!