|Fielder Key to Tigers Success||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on January 26, 2012
Fans of the game, not to mention sportswriters, were blindsided by the Tigers' surprise signing of free agent Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214-million deal.¬† It was a deal that didn't seem to make sense, even with the torn ACL injury suffered by Victor Martinez, but owner Mike Illich wants to win and win now, especially after the steps the team took forward last year.
And in reality Scott Boras and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski have had a good relationship, especially when it comes to finding fat contracts for players that Boras represents.¬† But this one is the king -- or should we say the Prince -- of deals between the two, certainly far outstripping the deals the two had struck in recent years for guys like Magglio Ordonez or Rick Porcello.
The other solution would be to find another spot on the field for Miguel Cabrera.¬† Cabrera is certainly the more athletic of the two and has a better range, better arm and better glove than Fielder.
Additionally Cabrera has played other positions, and not just back in the days he played for the Carolina Mudcats. ¬† He's played third base as recently as 2008, and back before 2005 he was an outfielder too.¬† And while age and agility has probably taken away the step that he'd need to be a top outfielder, the possibility that he could displace Brandon Inge and return to third base is very intriguing.
Inge's struggles at the plate last year lead to a demotion to the minors and his grip on third base is tenuous at best despite excellent defensive metrics.¬† Even if Inge has a strong spring he could lose the job if Cabrera or Fielder struggle due to lack of focus in the DH role or even if Leyland just decides to experiment.
Still no matter what, the Tigers and new acquisition Fielder are hands down favorites to run away with the division.¬† Another playoff visit seems to be in their future, but this time if all goes well they'll head there with a lot more firepower than they had last year.
And maybe that means that the Prince will help Illich get the World Series title that he so desperately craves.