I received several texts, emails and phone calls in the days following the Tigers’ signing of Prince Fielder. The messages varied, but the tone was always the same:
“Now we have to go sign Roy Oswalt, there’s no way we can compete without him.”
“Now we have no reason to sign Oswalt, we can’t compete this year, period.”
“Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the same lineup? In the AL Central? This sucks.”
Yeah, well imagine you are a Royals fan that wrote this last week. Then you read that all signs point to Oswalt signing with the Cardinals. The Cardinals? Did anyone tell him that Dave Duncan left? Anyway, there was only one person that could wake me from this nightmare of the week… you guessed it, the Kool Aid Drinker.
See, the Kool Aid Drinker thinks the Fielder signing was great for the Royals. $214 million for a 275 lb first baseman that had his career high in HRs 5 years ago and his career high in RBI 3 years ago? Awesome! Prince will have 1000 games on those knees after the third game of 2012. His dad hit 1000 games, also with the Tigers, in 1999. He was also 5 years removed from his career high in home runs. He hit exactly 100 home runs from that season forward, and more than 20 just once. Sure, his dad was 4 years older, so how about another heavy first baseman? Ryan Howard hit 1000 games last season, 5 years after his career high in home runs, I guess you saw how that season ended. How about Mo Vaughn? He hit 1000 games in 1998, just three years after his career high. Vaughn played 4 more years, 2 of them productive, and had nearly twice as many strikeouts as RBI in that time frame.
Listen, the Kool Aid Drinker is not all about boring people with statistics. But feel free to check out John Kruk or Steve Balboni if you want. In fact, I think we can make some fairly simple deductions:
- Fat first basemen do not age well
- Prince Fielder is fat
- Prince Fielder plays first base
- The Royals are going to dominate the AL Central
Seriously, over the next 4 years Prince is guaranteed just shy of $100 million dollars. Eric Hosmer, over that same time, will likely make less than $20 million. Who would you rather have? In 2014 the Tigers will have a 30 year old Fielder, a 31 year old Miguel Cabrera, a 30 year old Justin Verlander, and a 35 year old Victor Martinez on the books for $83 million dollars. If you are counting at home that is a pitcher with a whole lot of mileage on his arm and 3 DHs for what figures to be 70% of their total payroll. The best part is the Royals will have control over almost all of their best players through 2014 at a much more reasonable price.
We have not even talked about defense, or the irony of Prince’s last name. A fielder he is not. Rumor has it the Tigers are planning on putting the 4th worst defensive first baseman in baseball at first base and the sixth worst defensive first baseman at third base. The Tigers should be the worst defensive team in the division, if not all of baseball. Can you imagine the hilarity of a bunt situation with Cabrera and Fielder charging? We may get some Ken Harvey humor out of this contract. By the All Star game it will be clear to even the Tigers that one of the big boys has to play DH, and neither of them wants to. That’s a chemistry builder.
Essentially, the point the Kool Aid Drinker is this: Even if the Tigers do win the division in 2012 (and I don’t think they will), they have set themselves up for failure in the future. They have behaved like far too many of our countrymen, deciding to get what they want now regardless of what effect it may have on their future. I have heard a lot about how the contract will never go 9 years because Fielder will opt out long before that, I assume the people saying that have not seen the Kool Aid Drinker’s very scientific study above. It would be pretty odd for a 295 pound DH hitting .250ish to opt out of $24 million a year, and that is exactly what Fielder will be in 3-4 years.