Prince Fielder: 5 Things Milwaukee Must Do To Keep Star Slugger
Over that stretch the 27-year-old has hit 224 home runs, 645 RBI, posted a .282 batting average, .388 on base percentage and .536 slugging percentage.
He’s jumped around statistically, but he’s basically been good for a .275 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 RBI the past five seasons.
This offseason Fielder signed a one year, $15.5 million contract to avoid arbitration. It set up Fielder to leave Milwaukee for greener pastures, literally, in the 2012 free agent period.
All indications are that Fielder won't be in Milwaukee in 2012. But here are five things the Brewers can do to keep Fielder in Milwaukee.
Show Fielder the Money
This is the biggest problem for the Milwaukee Brewers. Fielder is a Scott Boras client. For those of you that don’t know, Boras is a big deal in the baseball world.
He works his butt off to make sure his clients receive the most money they possibly can. And he’s more often successful than unsuccessful. He’s a tough negotiator and makes life difficult for any team trying to sign one of his clients.
The Brewers don’t necessarily have the resources to fund more years of Fielder in Milwaukee.
That’s the No. 1 reason it seems like a split is inevitable. If the Brewers could give Fielder the $20-some million per year that he wants, then this wouldn’t be an issue.
Win the World Series
There’s the belief that winning solves all problems. And in this case it would certainly help.
There’s no guarantee that winning the World Series would convince Fielder to stay in Milwaukee, but it would make him think twice about leaving.
Hypothetically, if your team just won the World Series wouldn’t that mean it would give you the best opportunity to win?
Now, as previously mentioned, we don’t know what’s most important to Fielder. It might very well be dollars, in which case winning the World Series would be irrelevant. But it couldn’t hurt.
Continue to Add Talent to Roster
Milwaukee’s pitching staff greatly improved this year with the additions of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. The bullpen improved midseason with the acquisition of then-New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez.
The Brewers showed a willingness to spend money to put a contender on the field this year. But will they continue to improve their team?
For example, the shortstop position is one of concern for the Brewers, with Yuniesky Betancourt (.251 batting average, 61 RBI, 11 home runs, .269 on base percentage) occupying the position in 2011.
The Brewers wouldn’t be able to acquire someone like Mets shortstop Jose Reyes while retaining Fielder. But there has to be a better option out there to be had than Betancourt.
And if the Brewers show that they are committed to winning long-term, then Fielder may be willing to accept less money than he would otherwise.
Sell Fielder on Talented Lineup
The Brewers may have the best third and fourth hitter duo in all of baseball with Fielder (.296 batting average, 33 home runs, 110 RBI, .548 slugging percentage, .409 on base percentage) and outfielder Ryan Braun (.330 batting average, 30 home runs, 99 RBI, .590 slugging percentage, .396 on base percentage) occupying those two positions.
The duo strikes fear into pitching staffs across baseball and provides a great cushion for each hitter. Opposing pitchers know they cannot walk the No. 3 hitter for fear of what the No. 4 hitter will do with No. 3 on base.
The team has Rickie Weeks (.270, 19 home runs, .473 slugging percentage) doing good damage as a second baseman. Corey Hart, who if he plays the final 11 games will have missed 32 games, has posted 24 home runs, 55 RBI, .282 batting average and a .503 slugging percentage in 119 games so far.
There’s talent in this batting lineup, and it would certainly help Fielder’s stats to stay with a talented group of hitters.
All indications are that the Brewers have very little chance of signing Fielder.
Even if the Brewers do the previous four things, Fielder still may not re-sign. Milwaukee will need all of the above to happen and then some.
There are a few destinations where Fielder could end up this offseason (New York Yankees have an opening at their designated hitter position, the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs could have openings at first base, and the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals have shown a willingness to spend big dollars in previous offseasons).
But there are not an unlimited number of destinations for Fielder.
As JP said in the movie Angels in the Outfield, “It could happen.”