|Brewers Face Difficult Situation with Fielder|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 15, 2010
Many small market teams have gotten the message:Â if you want to keep your core intact, and not just serve as a farm system for the rich teams who buy up free agents, left, right and center, it's important to find a way to keep your star power as best you can.Â That means locking them into long term contracts when you can, and doing your best not to let free agency get too close before you make your best pitch to players and agents.
Especially if that player has a burning will to win.Â After all not many small market teams have ended up handing out World Series Championship rings in the past decade.Â Â There aren't a lot of players, especially American born players, in baseball who'll tell you that winning a championship hasn't been one of their fantasies while growing up.
Some players are able to put that aside for money, some can't and follow the big lights to Boston, or the Bronx or LA.Â But none of those would be realistic destination for Fielder.Â All of those teams are locked into a top notch first baseman for the time being.Â That makes moving for the hope of a ring a lot less compelling and probably takes an awful lot of money out of the equation too.
Oh, there'd be plenty of suitors if Fielder wanted to move for the sake of moving -- Chicago, maybe the Giants, Braves, Orioles, Mets or even the Rays (Carlos Pena is a free agent after this season) but the question he has to ask himself is if he'd stand a better chance of winning even a division title if he moved to one of those places.Â Of those potential suitors only the Rays seem like a real contender.
If the Brewers fail to play well in 2010, especially early this season, while the contract is still up in the air, that is something that could well come more and more into Fielder's thoughts.Â After all, the Brewers play in the weakest division in baseball, one where finishing five games over .500 might be enough to send a team to the playoffs.Â Â And if the team can't do it with the level of talent they have right now, will they be able to find more AND fit it into the budget of one of baseball's smallest market teams?
Clearly another big time player, CC Sabathia, didn't think so when he turned down a big contract offer by the Brewers and left for the bright lights of the big city after 2008.Â And while that's another obvious sign that the system is staggered against the small market teams it's a reality which any star player in Fielder's situation needs to take into account.
Yet for all of that Fielder might not want to leave.Â By all accounts Fielder is a fiercely loyal family man who stands by his friends and teammates, and so far has stood by the Brewers organization.Â But his faith there could be crumbling -- and certainly might take a big hit should the team stumble out of the gate.
In the end Prince Fielder will end up having to decide between teammates, friends and how much he really wants to win.Â Either way he'll get his payday, it's just a matter of which organization will end up writing the check for one of baseball's elite sluggers.