If I had to guess what percentage of Tigers fans wanted Prince Fielder’s days to be numbered in Detroit, I’d say 71.
We all reckoned from the day Fielder signed his Fielder-sized 9 year, $214 million dollar deal two Januarys ago in Detroit, that a day of immense buyer’s remorse would settle in. He didn’t play very good defense, and because of his body, his skills may erode sooner than typical Major League stars in what we thought was a post-PED era.
In the first year of the deal Fielder met my expectations. An OPS of .940, 30 home runs and 1 more walk than strikeouts. Compared to a typical Fielder year, 2013 was a dreary and forgettable one. His OPS was still acceptable at .819 but his OBP was his lowest since his first full year back in 2006. Fielder’s 75 walks were his fewest since that ’06 year, but more conspicuous to me was disparity between those walks and the 117 strikeouts. In ’11 and ’12 Fielder was +1 in BB/K. In ’10 Fielder led the NL with 114 BBs. The -40 difference is the biggest gap since 2008 when Fielder was a -50.
I’m willing to apply blame for Fielder’s porous year, not to the beginning of the inevitable skills decline, but to the troubles in his personal life.
That career .916 OPS is certainly attainable once Fielder’s personal life is settled. In fact, I think it’s reasonable to expect that type of offensive production for AT LEAST the next two years, before he turns 31.
The giant insect in the ointment is Prince’s inability to produce where the Tigers hope to be every year; the postseason. We’ve gone over this before – and there’s no hold up on sample size – but Fielder’s played 39 postseason games, had 164 PAs, and has hit just .194 with a meager OPS of .620. That’s a quarter-season sized slump. Does Fielder lack whatever courses through the veins of David Ortiz’s DNA? Assuredely. But there’s no transfusion from player to player, Fielder just has to snap out of it one of these Octobers.
If you’re the Tigers, can you risk that your $24 million dollar a year player will eventually come around? I wouldn’t. It may be next to impossible, but I’d shop Fielder’s services. The Tigers can easily put any number of players at first base – Cabrera, Martinez, Castellanos. The position is an effortless fill.
The restless people that wanted Fielder dealt during his slow start in 2012 were complete fools. He adjusted to the league and produced. And you just don’t move deals of that size. Not after a few months. Not after a solitary year.
Fielder has 7 years and $168 million left on deal. First instinct says that moving those years and that money are unreasonable, impractical and most of all, impossible.
It takes deep pockets and some inventiveness, but if the Dodgers – rich as they are – can assume over a quarter of a billion dollars in salary, then I’m open to an esoteric discussion on making Fielder an ex-Tiger.
The traits of a team that would receive Fielder look like this:
A. Need a first basemen
B. Deep, deep pockets.
The following would make for the perfect trade partner
C. American League, so he can DH.
D. Your lineup won’t get too lefty heavy.
E. Your looking for a star, or a draw.
F. You don’t plan on being October for a while. I say this somewhat jokingly.
As I’ve said more than a few times, aside from obviously not being in the AL, the Mets would appear to be the perfect trade partner for the Tigers.
Ike Davis hasn’t made it. They’re finally escaping their financial troubles. They need a player who can put butts in seats and can excite people so every now and then they can wrest attention away from the Yankees. They can also weather Fielder’s October struggles, because they need to concern themselves with April through September, before they have to watch him flail away in the postseason.
Texas, Seattle and San Francisco also make sense, to me at least.
After all this though, I want to propose THE TRADE THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
The Tigers need a left fielder, right? And if you follow me, you know I’m all about prepping this team to have someone to supplant Cabrera’s offensive genius in case the Tigers have no choice but to move on from him in two seasons.
This team got .206/.259/.370 production from its first basemen in ’13. This SI article previewing the NL Central hot stove will also mention that their prospect on the verge couldn’t even crack that hideous rotation last year.
Bleak would describe the Brewers’ situation at first base.
I’ll give you a minute.
Yep. I wanna send Fielder back to where he came from, and had so much success. Variable #1, I don’t know if he burned bridges leaving, though I doubt it.
‘But Eric, the Brewers couldn’t afford him to begin with, why would they reacquire him?’
Because, running the Tigers, I’m going to take an enormous financial burden off of their payroll.
Variable #2. I’m not certain how the fanbase feels about this guy. Do they welcome him back with forgiveness and open arms? Did he earn that? Or because he lied to Aaron Rodgers’ face, does Milwaukee want Ryan Braun on the first manned space flight to Neptune?
Prince Fielder for Ryan Braun ladies and gentlemen.
It’s a colossal risk for the Tigers. I’m like you in wondering if all Braun’s accolades were achieved via nefarious means. If his .938 career OPS tumbles a hundred and fifty points, you’re stuck with an 8 year bill at least $147 million dollars for a 30-something league average player.
But, hey the Tigers need a left fielder. And many of you, myself included, aren’t thrilled with Prince returning in 2014.
The risk might pay off.
It’s probably unrealistic to think Braun can be what he was off the PEDs, but what if he excels, even as just an .850 OPS player. With 20+ stolen base speed. On the open market, do you know how much that would cost? Probably much more than Braun’s $18 million AAV.
I warned you. This was THE TRADE THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. But it’s the Internet and if you’re a sports fan this was probably a better way to spend ten minutes than looking at porn.