Prince of Motown: The Pros and Cons of Signing Prince Fielder
Well Tigers fans, you got the biggest story of the baseball off season right on the front page of your papers. If you somehow thought you missed the story, don't worry, you didn't, this story is too huge to miss.
The Detroit Tigers signed a huge man who puts up huge numbers to a huge salary, and now has the chance of the Tigers winning a World Series, well, huge. That's right, the Tigs signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million salary with a no-opt-out clause.
Of course, just like any other big-name signing, there comes a price. Sure, $214 million over the next nine years is already a big price tag, but what about everything that money can't buy?
Signing a big player can cause a tidal wave in the free agent pool, but there is always a chance of getting soaked after the ink on the contract dries.
But let's be real here, there aren't a whole lot of negatives to talk about. This signing just made the frigid Detroit winter a little hotter and has Tigers fans amped for the first pitch of the 2012 season.
Tuesday's signing inspired Motown citizens to brush off their favorite Tigers shirt and wear it proudly as they look forward to a now-promising season.
The promising season is right intact due to the huge signing of Fielder, but we can't move on without weighing the pros with the cons of landing the free-agent market's hottest name.
Let's start off with the good news, shall we?
Positive No. 1
"Winning, duh!" - Charlie Sheen
That's right, we went straight to the Charlie Sheen quote on this one. Why? Because that's all the Tigers will be doing in the summer.
This is undoubtedly the biggest offensive talent in the free-agent pool, and now that the Tigers have reeled him in, they have arguably the best lineup in baseball. The starting nine has the likes of Jhonny Peralta, Delmon Young, and a now healthy Brennan Boesch. Oh yeah, and some guy named Miguel Cabrera; you may have heard of him.
Not only is the offense going to be smacking the ball all the way to the Renaissance Center, but the pitching will be lock down. With Fielder being the final piece in this elite puzzle, the Tigers are instantly a championship-caliber team in 2012.
And if the season somehow goes south this summer, look no further than 2013 when Victor Martinez comes back. Basically, the Tigers will be hitting the ball harder than John Daly hits the buffet line.
Bottom line, the Tigers have just put themselves in front of the pack for the next few seasons.
Positive No. 2
Miggy is back to looking at a good season.
About a week ago when the news broke that Victor Martinez was out with an ACL tear, Miguel Cabrera was going to see about 13 strikes during the season. His at-bat song would have been Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," no question about it.
Now that he has Prince behind him in the order, Miggy is more protected than Barack Obama. If any pitcher wants to throw Cabrera the intentional walk, they will more than likely pay for it with Fielder up next.
Seeing Miguel Cabrera's outlook of the season going bad to great in one week is almost funny. Well, maybe not so funny if you aren't the Detroit Tigers.
Positive No. 3
Two underrated words: Team Chemistry
Not saying that the Tigers have been having chemistry problems in the past, but it will improve with this signing.
I mean come on, just look at the guy, he's a teddy bear! And if anyone remembers last season with his Brewers, you would have seen the family-like atmosphere they had in the clubhouse.
Sure, a lot of it had to do with Nyjer Morgan, or should I say "Tony Plush," but we saw how Fielder can gel with his teammates.
Fielder is a lovable guy who has never seen himself in a bad headline. Building friendships and a dugout with a positive atmosphere will not be hard for Fielder, and that may be an unsung reason for the Tigers' success down the line.
But just like we said before, every signing will have their down sides, and now is the time to be Johnny Raincloud...
Negative No. 1
This man is getting paid like a prince
If you split up his contract over the next nine years, his salary comes out to about $23 million-$24 million per year. If you aren't an oil tycoon or Bill Gates, that's a whole lot of money.
This makes Fielder the third player on the team worth more than $20 million after Verlander and Cabrera. And how will the Tigers pay for this? Well, jacking ticket prices up is one way, and *gulp* raising the price of our beloved $5 Hot n' Ready Little Caesars pizzas.
Other than taking the dollars out of the fans' pockets, the team will also have to be gun-shy on any signing in the future.
If a big arm on the mound were to go down, then signing a free agent or trading for a high caliber player may be out of the question.
The odds of a catastrophic injury happening are slim to none (and yes, I just knocked on wood), but if it were to happen, the Tigers may not be willing to shell out the cash.
Negative No. 2
Someone is about to be voted off the island
In 2014 we will see Justin Verlander's $20 million a year contract expire. In 2015 we will see Miguel Cabrera's $22 million a year contract expire. In 2015 we will see Prince Fielder still in the first half of his massive contract, so guess what's going to happen?
If you guessed the possibility of seeing Verlander or Cabrera leaving town, then congratulations, you're probably right. Keep in mind the word probably was used.
Resigning a free agent to an even bigger salary during free agency time will be borderline impossible.
The money being dished out by teams that have budget room will be up and over what the Tigers will offer. That is, unless, Mike Illitch is willing to empty the bank account to keep both superstars.
Negative No. 3
Speaking of Miggy saying goodbye...
We will see Miguel Cabrera saying goodbye to first base and hello to the hot corner again. Now is this the end of the world as we know it? Absolutely not. He played the first leg of his career as a third baseman, but it's not necessarily ideal as far as team defense goes.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Miguel is worse defensively than Stonehands Jackson, but his numbers at third base had took a beating lately. 2005 was his best year fielding in the hot corner, sporting a .971 fielding percentage, but those numbers have vanished like LeBron in the fourth quarter.
In 2008, the last year he played third, he scrapped to get a .900 percentage, that adds up to nearly a dozen more errors.
It's not the best plan as far as defense goes, but in the batting order it looks juicier than Prince Fielder's cheeseburger.
So is this a good signing or not?
If you like winning, then yes, this is an incredible signing. If you like mediocrity, this signing is bad news bears for you.
The Tigers clearly let their fans know that they are more serious than ever about winning a World Series. When the news broke that Victor Martinez would be out the whole season, the front office decided to hit a home run rather than sign a cheap imitation.
The Tigers fan in me is still as giddy as a fat kid staring at his birthday cake. If my job was a baseball about to be used at Comerica Park, I would quit my job, because those things will get beat up in 2012.