The Prince Fielder Watch
After being such lovable losers for 40 years, Rangers fans are now getting greedy. Look at the fan sites and it’s seen in great detail. It’s now not enough to go to two World Series in a row (although maybe it would have been if they’d managed to win one of them). According to the fans, it’s time to aim even higher.
So it is that, less than 24 hours after Texas signed Japanese import Yu Darvish to a 6-year, $60 million contract (along with a $51.7 million posting fee), that Rangers fans are speculating and coming up with justifications to also sign Prince Fielder to a monster contract. Among the reasons: 1) Josh Hamilton becomes a free agent after 2012 and signing Prince will allow the team to let Hamilton walk; 2) Michael Young becomes a free agent after 2012 and there’s no way he will be re-signed; and 3) Hey, it’s not our money but we’re pretty sure the ownership group can afford it!
I have long been in the camp that Fielder will not become a Ranger, even if that’s his desire. The signing of Darvish makes those chances even more remote. Money aside, I just don’t see Fielder being a good fit for the Rangers, despite his career stats thus far.
1) Rangers teams are known for their aggressiveness on the basepaths. Fielder does not provide this.
2) The Rangers under Ron Washington put an emphasis on defense. While Mitch Moreland isn’t any great shakes at first base defensively, neither is Fielder.
3) The Rangers of 2011 were as versatile as any line-up in baseball. Michael Young was available as a DH and super utility player on the infield. Mike Napoli also got playing time at first base. Fielder hurts the versatility of the club BECAUSE he hasn’t been hurt over his career. With Fielder playing every day, you take away at bats from both Young and Napoli, both .300 hitters in 2011 and you affect the overall versatility of the roster.
4) Any successful team is going to have payroll increases to try to maintain that success for as many years as possible. A Fielder signing on top of the Darvish signing will have a trickle down effect on what the Rangers will be able to afford to pay the core over the next few years: Hamilton, Kinsler, Napoli, Holland and Feliz first and foremost, followed by decisions concerning the Rangers futures of Young, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Moreland, Matt Harrison and Mike Adams. Going after Fielder now thus would affect decisions concerning as many as eleven other players.
The argument in favor of a Fielder signing that I understand is the vocal group that truly believes Hamilton plans to walk after the 2012 season, which would leave a big offensive void. Even if that is the case, though, I trust this front office to have already put a plan (or multiple plans) into place to address this.