With Prince Fielder Gone, Arizona Diamondbacks One of Top NL Favorites

Kevin BonnevilleContributor IIIJanuary 24, 2012

Having both Pujols and Fielder gone is great news for the Diamondbacks.
Having both Pujols and Fielder gone is great news for the Diamondbacks.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

News broke hours ago that Prince Fielder will be following in his father's footsteps to become a Detroit Tiger for several seasons. The long-time Milwaukee Brewer has agreed to a nine-year deal that will pay him $214 million, according to reports.

Detroit came out of nowhere to get the first baseman. It appeared as though the Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals were the favorites for Fielder's services, but a season-ending injury to DH Victor Martinez probably had something to do with the Tigers showing a sudden interest in Fielder.

Fielder becomes the second superstar to move away from the National League this offseason. Albert Pujols, who spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals, signed a huge deal to join the Los Angeles Angels.

For the contenders in the National League, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, both of these moves are welcomed news. The two sluggers and two of the best players in the game will now be taking swings against American League pitching.

Losing Fielder and Pujols are huge blows for both their old clubs.

The Milwaukee Brewers have replaced Fielder's production with Aramis Ramirez, who has spent the last nine seasons of his career with the Chicago Cubs. Ramirez has had a quality career, but he is no Prince Fielder and he is entering his twilight years.

The St. Louis Cardinals dealt with the loss of Pujols by signing Carlos Beltran to a multi-year contract and moving Lance Berkman from the outfield to first base. Beltran was expected to help lead the San Francisco Giants to their second straight playoff appearance last season, but he didn't quite live to the high expectations. At 34, he is not the player he once was.

With the Brewers losing Fielder and no one else in the NL Central dramatically improving this offseason, the Cardinals are still the favorites to win that division. The Cards will get a big boost with Adam Wainwright returning from Tommy John surgery as well.

If you take those teams out of the equation because of their losses this offseason, the Diamondbacks only real competition to make their second World Series appearance in franchise history are the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Both of these teams have their flaws, however.

For Philadelphia, they aren't getting any younger. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will be 35 and 34-years-old respectively once the playoffs roll around in October and both have thrown a ton of innings over the last several seasons.

The Phillies will also be without slugger Ryan Howard to start 2012. This was a Phillies offense that struggled putting runs on the scoreboard at stretches last year.

Atlanta is a team that is built similar to Philadelphia. They have a strong pitching staff, but they do have some question marks on offense.

Chipper Jones will be 40 at the end of April, Jason Heyward is coming off of a bad year and there are still questions whether he can live up to his immense potential and Dan Uggla hit .233 in 2011. There isn't of power behind those three either.

As a Diamondbacks fan, I like this team's chances at winning the pennant this year. Unlike media favorites Philadelphia and Atlanta, the majority of the players on the Diamondbacks roster are entering their primes and they won't have problems scoring runs.