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Prince Fielder's deal with the Tigers
So much for Scott Boras having a bad winter.
Sometimes when you wait, nothing happens. But sometimes when you wait, something happens. And thanks to Victor Martinez's season-ending injury, Prince Fielder has himself an immense deal with the Tigers.
1. Of course, it's irrational, in the way that any nine-year deal is irrational, especially for a poor-fielding first baseman. But if everything in life is relative, then I like this deal far more than the Angels' 10-year investment in Albert Pujols.
Why? Because Fielder is only 27 to Pujols' stated 31. Because Fielder is coming off one of his best seasons whereas Pujols is coming off one of his worst.
Because Fielder, from everything I've seen and heard, will have an easier time making this sort of adjustment and dealing with the expectations than will Pujols.
And because, multiple sources confirmed, nine years is less than 10, and $23.8 million annually is less than $24 million.
2. Of course this was ownership-driven. Every deal of this magnitude, in the history of baseball, has been ownership-driven. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has been a reliable patron for Boras over the years.
But not all ownership-driven deals have the same impact. When Hal Steinbrenner pushed for the signing of Rafael Soriano a year ago, many fans wondered why the heck the Yankees were using so many resources on a relief pitcher. This Fielder deal comes as a gift to Tigers fans who fretted what they were going to do without Martinez. This Fielder deal will sell tickets.
3. The fit. No, it isn't a great fit at all, and the notion of Miguel Cabrera switching to third base is far from inspired. And it gets messy next year, of course, when Martinez returns from his injury.
Well, there's no point worrying about next year now. So getting back to this year, if Cabrera really does think he can play third base, then he can give it a shot in spring training. If he plays as poorly as we think he'll play, then it's incumbent upon manager Jim Leyland to earn his paycheck and figure out a way to make both Cabrera and Fielder happy.
They can be the American League's most imposing power duo since the heyday of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in Boston. As long as they figure out the defense part.
4. Fielder's weight vis-a-vis his durability. Yup, he's a big boy. He also has been one of the most durable players in baseball, with at least 157 games played each of the last six years and with 162, 161 and 162 on his ledger the last three years.
Jose Reyes is a picture of fitness, yet he can't stay on the field (yes, yes, I understand that Reyes plays a more important position, so there's more forgiveness for missed time). There's something to be said for the notion of a large player breaking down. There's also something to be said for a guy having a track record like Fielder's.
5. With Fielder signed, now we're really approaching the Hot Stove home stretch. We're talking Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson - one of them has to wind up with the Red Sox, no? - and the AARP group of DHs like Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero, Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui and Manny Ramirez.
--And with that, I'm back out. See you down the road.