First, let’s get this out of the way: Prince Fielder is a very good baseball player. Last year alone, he was second in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, third in on-base plus slugging percentage, seventh in runs scored, third in total bases, second in home runs and second in runs batted in. Those numbers are extremely good.
However, I don’t want to see Fielder in a Seattle Mariners uniform.
The Mariners are not one great player away from competing for the World Series. Heck, the Mariners aren’t even one great player away for competing for the AL West. And that was true even before the Angels signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. And earlier this evening, the Rangers picked up Yu Darvish. The gap for the Mariners and the rest of the division is quite large. Even the Athletics look to be a better team in 2012 than the Mariners.
The fans who want to see Fielder sign with the Mariners believe that for perfectly legitimate reasons. They believe Fielder will draw in more fans. That is incorrect. One thing, and one thing only puts people in seats. Winning.
When the Mariners traded Ken Griffey Jr. to the Reds, the attendance in Cincinnati did go up. For about a season. However, when the fans realized that the Reds still weren’t very good, attendance went down. Even with Griffey in the lineup.
Do you know what team had the highest home attendance in 2001? The Seattle Mariners. And that’s after Griffey, Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez had left the team. The reason the attendance that year was so high was because the team was winning—not because the Mariners had a superstar on the roster.
People also believe Fielder will help bring other good players to the Mariners. This is incorrect as well. In an effort to keep Pujols, the Cardinals signed Matt Holliday in 2009. Obviously, the Cardinals recently won the World Series, and even that wasn’t enough to keep Pujols around. Players follow the money, and not where other superstars are playing.
After singing Barry Zito in 2006, the Giants signed Aaron Roward in 2007, which ended up being a disaster. Remember, at the time, Zito was considered one of the best pitchers in the league.
The Astros signed Carlos Lee in 2006, when he was still in his prime. Who else did the Astros sign that year? Woody Williams, Kaz Matsui and Doug Brocail. I don’t believe I’m going out on a limb by saying those three players are not superstars.
Wilson did not sign with the Angels because Pujols had. He signed with the Angels because they offered him the most money. If a company contacted me tomorrow and offered me more money to go work for them, I would be gone from my present job in a split second. It’s been said time and time again, but MLB is a business.
The Mariners could sign Fielder without crippling their budget for the rest of the season. However, you have to ask yourself, what’s the point in having a very high priced player for a team that would consider finishing in second place in their own division a miracle? The Mariners need good players. Lots of them. And even then, it’s still not a guarantee. Consider this.
Last year, the Yankees had the highest payroll in baseball. They did not win the World Series. The Phillies had the second-highest payroll, and they did not win the World Series. The Boston Red Sox had the third-highest payroll, and they didn’t even make it to the postseason.
Where did the Cardinals and the Rangers rank in payroll in 2011? The Cardinals came in at No. 11, and the Rangers came in at No. 13. It’s not about how much money you spend, but how wisely you spend it.
The Diamondbacks had the sixth-lowest payroll in 2011, and they made the playoffs. The Angels had the fourth-highest payroll, and no playoffs. The White Sox had the fifth-highest payroll, and no playoffs. The Cubs had the sixth-highest payroll, and no playoffs. The Mets had the seventh-highest payroll, and no playoffs. Are you seeing a trend here?
At this moment, the Mariners have three players they can count on: King Felix, Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda. That’s it. Adding Fielder would make four, but the team will still be horrible in 2012, and most likely, in 2013. Singing Fielder would be a huge mistake at this time. I just hope he signs with an NL team so the Mariners won’t have to face him.