Prince Fielder: 10 Reasons the Jays Should Swoop in and Steal Him
Toronto Blue Jays fans have had their emotions toyed with all offseason.
With Paul Beeston speculating that the Jays’ 2012 opening day payroll could be as high as $120 million, nearly every big-name free agent has been linked to the Jays at one point or another. I, like many other overly optimistic fans, thought the Blue Jays were finally ready to spend money like the Yankees and Red Sox after four consecutive fourth-place finishes in the AL East.
I commend Alex Anthopoulos, as he has made some crafty moves this offseason. Strengthening the Jays’ bullpen with the additions of Sergio Santos, Jason Frasor and Darren Oliver was a step in the right direction.
In addition, Kelly Johnson was the best second baseman on the market, and keeping him in Toronto was a promising move. It’s also hard to argue against his decision to avoid arbitration with Colby Rasmus.
While Anthopoulos has made good moves thus far, the Blue Jays are no closer to contention.
The Jays have done nothing to improve their starting rotation, and I don’t see them making any major moves to do so before the season begins. Unfortunately, the trade market for a top-rotation pitcher is inflated.
Sports transactions are based on precedence, and the Mat Latos, Gio Gonzalez and Michael Pineda deals are setting the market price. The top pitcher on the trading block seems to be Matt Garza, and Theo Epstein will likely command a lot in return.
The Jays have a solid team. They have Jose Bautista, and he is surrounded by a young and talented lineup.
Having said that, the Jays could definitely do themselves a favor by bringing in another established bat. One superstar does not cut it anymore, especially in the toughest division in baseball.
To win in the MLB, one must score more runs than their opponent. Sounds simple, right?
Well, if the Jays don’t plan on making an attempt to lower the amount of runs they allow, only one solution exists. They need to out-slug everybody.
The Jays have yet to make that big splash this offseason, and there is one big fish left in the sea. His name is Prince Fielder.
A 40-homerun threat from the left side of the plate would easily give the Jays the most fearsome lineup in the American League.
Don’t get me wrong—the Blue Jays don’t need Prince. He cannot fix the Jays’ rotation problems, nor can he lower the amount of saves the bullpen will blow. He is simply icing on a subpar cake. Nobody cares how bad the cake is if the icing is phenomenal.
Here are 10 reasons why the Blue Jays should go all in for Prince Fielder.
Prince Is an Iron Man
Nothing bothers me more than to see a team pay a player to ride the pine.
Aside from Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder was the only player to play in every game last season.
Signing an injury-prone player is a non-issue with Prince and, at the ripe age of 27, his body isn’t likely to break down anytime soon.
His weight is a concern to some, but it hasn't slowed him down one bit thus far.
Since becoming an everyday player in 2006, Prince has only missed 13 games.
The Blue Jays’ current first baseman, Adam Lind, missed 37 games in 2011 alone.
Prince Gets on Base
In the words of Billy Beane, he gets on base.
For those who have seen Moneyball, the key to building a solid team is on-base percentage.
To win games, teams must score runs, and to score runs, you must get on base.
Fielder’s OBP has been north of .400 over the past three seasons.
He enters the 2012 season with a career OBP of .390, which is a considerable increase over Adam Lind’s career OBP of .316.
Granted, Prince will command $20 million more per season than Lind, but when your ownership is a telecommunications giant that also owns the Maple Leafs and Raptors, money shouldn’t be an issue.
Prince Cannot Play for the Texas Rangers
Recent reports have the Texas Rangers interested in Prince Fielder’s services.
Texas is already an offensive juggernaut, and Fielder would make them unstoppable.
Los Angeles is almost a sure lock to win the AL West with the additions of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.
If the Jays expect to make the playoffs, they will have to triumph over their AL East opponents as well as the Texas Rangers.
It is in Toronto’s best interest to make sure that Prince is not playing first base for Texas next season.
The Yankees and Red Sox Aren’t Interested in Prince
First base is always a position in which the Yankees and Red Sox have a clear-cut advantage over the Jays.
Since the departure of Carlos Delgado, first base has been a desolate wasteland for the Blue Jays compared to their AL East rivals.
Shea Hillenbrand, Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind can't be compared to the likes of David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez.
Adam Lind is a great player, but when you need to compete against the Yankees and Red Sox on a yearly basis, he just does not cut it.
The Yankees and Red Sox have Mark Teixeira and Adrian Gonzalez locked up long term respectively. With the Yankees and Red Sox set at first base, this is the perfect time for the Jays to sign a big-name free agent.
With both teams disinterested in Prince, the Jays have the perfect opportunity to provide the ultimate counter-punch—their own left-handed slugger at first base.
Protection for Jose Bautista
Last season, Jose Bautista ranked first in both walks and intentional walks.
Walks are great and all, but the bat needs to be in Jose’s hands.
With the Jays' current cleanup hitter, opposing pitchers have the luxury of working around Bautista.
Adam Lind does not strike fear in the minds of pitchers like Prince Fielder does.
With Prince hitting behind Bautista in the lineup, opposing pitchers would have no choice but to face Bautista.
That is, unless they would rather go after Prince. Not such an easy decision anymore.
Prince Would Create Matchup Issues for Opposing Teams
Having two players with 40-home run power hitting from opposite sides of the plate is a luxury any team dreams of.
Facing right-handed Bautista followed by left-handed Fielder would be a nightmare for opposing managers.
A Jose Bautista-Prince Fielder duo would be reminiscent of when the Jays had Tony Batista and Carlos Delgado each slugging 41 home runs for them in the 2000 season.
Also, Yankee Stadium is a home-run nightmare.
A power threat from the left side of the plate would really help the Jays, considering how often they venture into The Bronx.
Signing Prince Would Show Jays Fans That Ownership Is Ready to Spend Money
Jays fans are growing increasingly impatient and are slowly losing faith.
The Jays have struggled to fill the Rogers Centre over the past decade.
The Blue Jays' average attendance a year ago was 22,445, good for 25th in the league.
Prince Fielder is a superstar in this league and one of only a few players with the potential to fill a ballpark.
The Jays’ ownership needs to show their fans that they’re ready to spend money.
Signing Prince to a long-term deal would signal an end to their decade-long rebuild. The Rogers Centre is an exciting place when full, and it’s depressing to see it half empty on a nightly basis.
Ask Evan Longoria and David Price what it’s like to play for an empty house.
Too Many Teams Have Improved for the Jays to Sit Back and Do Nothing
Even with the extended Wild Card system in 2012, the Blue Jays face an uphill battle.
Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson make the Angels a lock to win the AL West, in my opinion.
Texas responded to the loss of their ace by bidding $51.7 million to win the services of Yu Darvish.
Assuming they can come to a contract agreement, the Rangers might even be more dangerous than last year.
After seeming completely disinterested in improving their rotation, the Yankees finally made the big splash everybody was waiting for. In one night, Brian Cashman stunned the baseball world by trading for Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda.
Everybody seems to be writing off the Red Sox after their historical collapse. In reality, they are as strong as ever. They really don’t have any glaring holes, and you can bet they will be tough to beat on any given night.
Tampa Bay is always a great team. Their rotation is stellar, and they always seem to have their way with the Jays.
Toronto needs to keep up with the changing American League, or else they will be left in the dust.
Prince would easily make Toronto one of the most feared teams in the AL.
Signing Prince Makes Lind Expendable
Allow me to reiterate that I am a big fan of Adam Lind.
Unfortunately, he just isn’t Prince Fielder.
The Jays need help in the rotation. There are many teams in the league that could use Adam Lind ‘s services.
In 125 games last season, Lind hit .251 with 26 home runs and 87 RBI.
With Prince playing first base, Alex Anthopoulos could use Lind as trade bait and land a pretty decent starting pitcher.
Packaged with a decent prospect, Lind could fetch the Blue Jays a nice prize on the trade market.
Toronto Needs a Superstar
Mats Sundin: gone. Vince Carter: long gone. Roy Halladay: gone.
Toronto is a sports desert.
The Maple Leafs haven’t made the playoffs since before the lockout, the Raptors may never make the playoffs again, and we all know what the Jays have done as of late.
Jose Bautista is arguably the best player in the league, but he hardly gets the appreciation and recognition he deserves.
Toronto needs another international superstar.
Do us all a favor, Alex Anthopoulos. You may not think we need Prince, but we need him more than you will ever know.