Prince Fielder Rumors: 10 Reasons Not to Count out the San Francisco Giants
General manager Brian Sabean has repeatedly stated his position regarding the offseason plans for the San Francisco Giants. The number one priority is to “lock up the pitching,” and there will be no “big fish” free-agent signings.
For this reason, the prospect of Prince Fielder heading to the San Francisco Giants does not seem remotely likely. But where is the fun of speculation if we take every word a GM says as fact? Here are 10 reasons why the San Francisco Giants could in fact sign Prince Fielder.
Whether or not the Giants would even want to gamble on a seemingly physically unstable first baseman is another matter entirely.
1) Don’t Believe GMs—Ever
General managers lie professionally. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense for them to do so. Were the Giants to make a public declaration of their interest in Prince Fielder, the already likely high asking price of the slugger would increase substantially.
The fact that San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean said that he has no intention of signing a big-ticket free agent is not conclusive enough proof to say that Fielder won’t be signed. If the right opportunity presents itself, I think Sabean might reconsider his stance, providing he hasn’t already done so privately.
2) Giants Can Afford Him
Never believe owners or accountants. They lie. As is the case with general managers, being an owner or an accountant for a major sports franchise requires an ability to lie. Of course, it’s not called lying. It’s called “public misdirection.”
The San Francisco Giants say that they will not allow their payroll to increase. Then again, their payroll in 2011 was not terribly higher than the payroll in 2010. Furthermore, the Giants sold out every home game and sold millions of dollars worth of merchandise. The ownership is rich. The team has the coffers to sign Prince Fielder; all they need to do is open them and cease their "public misdirection" schemes.
3) Angel Pagan Trade
It might not seem like much, but the Angel Pagan trade proves that the Giants are serious about offensive upgrades. While Pagan certainly did not put up All-Star numbers last season, he brings the speed of Andres Torres without the ADHD.
Pagan is an upgrade in the outfield. It shows that the Giants’ front office has assessed the team’s shortcomings and is committed to addressing them, even if only incrementally.
4) Carlos Beltran Finished
The other thing that the Angel Pagan trade has done is that it has filled Carlos Beltran’s void. With Huff displaced (likely) into left field and Schierholtz splitting time in right, assuming Melky Cabrera plays every day center field, there will be no place for Carlos Beltran.
Nor will there be a place for the eight figures he is likely to earn next year. That’s plenty of “extra” money. By being cheap, the Giants have essentially lined their wallets. Now would be a good time to restore their public image and sign Prince Fielder...
5) Tim Lincecum Won’t Sign
Brian Sabean made it very clear that locking up the Giants’ pitching staff is the number one priority. Tim Lincecum has repeatedly stated that he does not want to sign a long-term deal. So what exactly is going on here?
Regardless of whether or not the San Francisco Giants plan on inking Timmy to a multi-year deal or not, the star pitcher will make somewhere around $20 million this season. So realistically, a “multi-year” deal would likely not deviate much in terms of salary from what the Giants will already be paying him. Maybe Timmy doesn’t want to be a Giant. Maybe he just doesn’t want to be Barry Zito. But the point is that he won’t cost any more money whether he signs a long-term contract or not.
Saying that he will cost “more money” if he signs is artificial budget inflation.
6) Same Goes for Matt Cain
The exact same argument holds for Matt Cain, who will likely earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million next season. Out of the two pitchers, I frankly think that Matt Cain is the one the Giants are most likely to sign to a long-term contract. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if he and the Giants were to reach an agreement somewhere in the neighborhood of five years/$80 million.
The point is that any raise over the “long term” would be, in the scope of the entire payroll, almost negligible.
7) Yankees/Red Sox/Phillies Don’t Need Fielder
The Yankees have Mark Teixeira. The Red Sox have Adrian Gonzalez. The Phillies have Ryan Howard (even though he is hurting). Those three teams blow through more money than any other team in Major League Baseball as measured by payroll statistics. This means, essentially, that the Giants could theoretically match or best any other reasonable bid for Fielder.
The Mets can’t afford anything right now. Neither can the Dodgers. The Cubs and White Sox don’t want Fielder. The Marlins have already thrown money at Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. So the Giants are looking pretty good in terms of position should they decide to throw their hats into the ring.
8) Barry Zito/Aaron Rowand Write-off
Here’s an idea. If the team wants to release statistics demonstrating the immediate costs of locking down their star pitchers, they might just as well manipulate the statistics in the other direction. What if the financial gains from consecutive sellouts, merchandise and a deep 2010 playoff run came off the books entirely?
With those factors removed, fans would not be clamoring and wondering where this team is spending their money. What could be done with this surplus cash?
How about buy out Barry Zito and write off Aaron Rowand, take their salaries off the books and just swallow the money? In other words, don’t even factor them in to the season’s payroll. Accounting practices like these happen all the time, although not particularly often in sports. At least not to the tune of $30 million. But it could, and frankly should, happen.
And if it did, there would be no financial reason why the Giants could not sign Prince Fielder.
See caption: Barry Zito, per pitch, cost over $21,000.
9) No Clear First Baseman
If you look at it one way, the San Francisco Giants have too many people at first base. Aubrey Huff is signed through 2012. Brandon Belt looks to see significantly more playing time this season. But then there is the question of Brett Pill, the rookie who outperformed both of these players last season in his limited one-month call-up.
The point here is that there are no clear-cut first base choices in this mix. One (and maybe by some stroke of luck all three) of these players might be productive next season. But Prince Fielder will almost certainly put up superior offensive numbers. Why not trade off the dead weight, keep one of the players as a backup and sign Prince Fielder? At least there would be no question as to who the starting first baseman is.
10) Splash Hits
Prince Fielder hits massive home runs. Massive home runs means extra television attention. Extra television attention means extra television revenue. So, more home runs means more income. Add to this the fact that McCovey Cove might provide the most impressive backdrop for home runs in the majors, and you have the makings of an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game on a weekly basis.
Not since Barry Bonds has a slugger been able to consistently deposit balls into the water. Prince Fielder could. And with the revenue he would generate, he could virtually pay for himself. Or at least a significant part of himself.