Prince Fielder: If the Slugger Considers Cubs, 5 Reasons They Should Pounce
The 2010 season has had a familiar feeling for the Chicago Cubs in regard to the team's performance and standing within the National League Central division. But unlike numerous Cubs teams of the past, this year's version has been based largely on developing young talent and building a culture that operates from within.
Since Dallas Green joined the Cubs as general manager in 1982, the Cubs have been an organization based on free agency. Over the past 30 years, the Cubs have landed numerous free agents and fielded teams largely comprised of players from competing franchises. Often, the result of the Cubs' numerous acquisitions has left the club short of being competitive, but in several instances, the Cubs have been able to create quite a playoff contender.
Free agent signings and trades have brought in some of—if not all—of the greatest Cubs players of the past half-century. The signings of Andre Dawson, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and even Eric Karros have all been integral moves in creating a Cubs division winner and playoff contender.
Though the 2010 season appears to be one of little contention and much education for younger Cubs players, the 2011 season will once again give the Cubs the opportunity to land a major impact player in the free agent market.
One of the most sought after soon-to-be free agents is Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.
Employed by one of the Cubs biggest rivals, Fielder could be a long-term solution to the offensive struggles the Cubs have faced over the past few seasons. Power numbers, run production, on-base percentage and slugging percentage have all decreased for the Cubs since their last playoff appearance in 2008, and Prince Fielder may be just the guy to put an end to those offensive woes.
Here are five reasons why the Cubs should make every effort to land the slugging superstar in 2011.
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One of the tremendous upsides of a potential free agent signing of Prince Fielder is that Fielder is still relatively young. Fielder turned just 27 this past May, which in terms of baseball ability, means he likely still has yet to hit his prime.
By signing Fielder, the Cubs would not only be signing a player who may be on the decline, but also a player who fits in well with the Cubs current youth movement.
If the Cubs were to sign Fielder, the Cubs infield would consist of two very promising young players in Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro and a perennial All-Star in-fielder. The average age of those three players is a mere 24 years old.
In the National League Central, first basemen reign supreme. Along with Milwaukee having Fielder, the Cardinals have one of the game's best in Albert Pujols, while the Cincinnati Reds are home to the up and coming star, Joey Votto.
In landing Prince Fielder, the Cubs would hold one of the division's best players, as well as one of the game's best first basemen.
Additionally, the signing of Fielder for the Cubs means the departure of division-rival Milwaukee's best hitter, and would substantially help the Cubs in ascending through the ranks of the NL Central.
New name for Sheffield Avenue?
Sammy Sosa is the all-time Cubs leader in home runs with 545, followed by Ernie Banks with 512. Third on the list is "Sweet Swinging" Billy Williams—arguably the best left-handed hitter in Cubs history—with a mere 392 homers.
If Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were indeed correct in stating that "chicks dig the long ball," then left-handed hitting Cubs of the past spent many a night throughout their respective careers without dates. Behind Williams on the list of left-handed Cubs home run leaders are Bill Nicholson (of the 1930s and '40s) with 205 and Mark Grace with just 148.
Suffice to say, the Cubs haven't flexed much muscle from the left side of the plate.
The addition of Prince Fielder could put an end to the Cubs' lefty power drought, and actually produce some souvenirs for Wrigley Field bleacher fans more accustomed to throwing back home run balls than keeping them.
Prince Fielder is a big man with a big image. Despite playing in the relatively small market of Milwaukee, Fielder is a nationally known baseball personality. Wherever Prince goes, he is recognized as one of the most prolific hitters in the game.
Though the Cubs have employed popular players such as Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano over the past decade, the Cubs have not had the luxury of a larger-than-life personality since the departure of Sammy Sosa. Unlike Sosa, Fielder possesses a level of humility which could serve a young Cubs team nicely.
The addition of a figure like Fielder would also rejuvenate a fan base that has been starving for an exciting personality, and who better than a guy who looks and acts like he brings a lunch pail to work every day and hits the ball like he shot it out of a cannon?
Though the Chicago Cubs made playoff appearances in 2007 and 2008, most fans would agree that the team has been lacking a certain amount of excitability in the latter years of the 2000s.
While the 2003 NL Central championship team that came within three outs of a World Series appearance had great charisma thanks to guys like Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Kenny Lofton and Randall Simon, the Cubs teams of the past few years have been somewhat dull and lack enthusiasm.
Current Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has often been regarded as one of the most disinterested major leaguers in uniform, and others like Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto have also been publicly criticized for their lack of hustle.
Having Prince Fielder in a Cubs uniform could bring some old-fashioned fun back to Wrigley Field, and possibly put an end to the Cubs recent history of under-achieving former-stars.
Though Fielder's physique would insist the husky first baseman is nothing more than a long-ball slugger, Fielder's two career inside-the-park home runs would suggest otherwise.
Fielder is also very active with the community and is a player who doesn't take himself too seriously. Though all business when on the field, Prince Fielder plays the game with a youthful enthusiasm that could benefit any major league club—none more than the Chicago Cubs.