Prince Fielder Signs with Tigers: What It Means for the Cleveland Indians

Jim PiascikCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2012

Despite the Prince Fielder news, the Indians can still compete in the AL Central.
Despite the Prince Fielder news, the Indians can still compete in the AL Central.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Even though superstar Prince Fielder signed with the Detroit Tigers Tuesday, the Cleveland Indians can still win the AL Central.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true. In no way does Tuesday's signing automatically guarantee the Tigers a spot in the postseason next year. 

It certainly makes the road harder. Any leverage gained by Victor Martinez's season-ending injury is gone. But the MLB season is a long, grinding one; seasons aren't decided in April, let alone January.

The Indians obviously still need to figure out who is playing first base this year. They need to deal with the Fausto Carmona fallout. They are still relying on contributions from often injured players. But they certainly aren't out of it yet.

So please don't freak out on the Tribe just yet. Yes, the offseason has been disappointing. No, the Indians haven't signed a big-name bat. But championships aren't won by who signs the biggest name. They are won with the little moves. 

Want to know something interesting? Tony Lastoria tweeted that the Tigers "traded for [Miguel] Cabrera & [Dontrelle] Willis after '07 season when they were 88-74. Those additions helped them go 74-88 in 2008." Seriously, why are we assuming the Tigers will make the playoffs, let alone win the division?

It's definitely not a good day to be an Indians fan, but take heart Cleveland. Your team isn't going to lay down and let the Tigers walk all over them; they're going to rise up and take on whatever gets in their way.

Vinnie Pestano, when asked where the team's confidence is: "It's exactly where it was yesterday."

More Pestano: "If reports are true out of Detroit #bringit"

Joe Smith: "It's going to be a good challenge for us. We're going to play them tough. We're not going to back down -- that's for sure."

Jason Kipnis: "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."

This team isn't going to back down, and you shouldn't either. The Indians will find someone to play first base. They'll find a replacement for Carmona. And they'll keep calm and carry on.

I suggest the rest of us do too.