My boyhood memories are coming back full force: Prince Fielder is coming to Detroit to play for my Tigers! Fielder’s dad Cecil (former Tigers masher) might be the most surprised, since they don’t get along. The money is huge (9 years, $214 million), but my immediate reaction had to do with the logjam at first base and DH. The thick brothers (Cabrera and Fielder) should be able to share this year (except at the buffet), but what about when Victor Martinez (the Tigers’ third best hitter) comes back from his ACL injury next year? He’s primarily a DH at this point. This signing makes me think more news is on the way. Maybe Martinez is secretly 41 years old. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Cabrera will have to move — Fielder doesn’t want to play DH.
Is the contract reasonable? Once the details come out, some dummy will comment that Fielder won’t be worth the money at the end of the nine years. That’s not really relevant (as I’ve written before) — the total value of the contract is what matters, and back loaded contracts benefit the team, since they allow them to delay payments. The value per year is pretty similar to Pujols ($252 million over 10 years), which seems a bit too high maybe, but Fielder is much younger, so it’s probably fair.
I’m a little worried that the Tigers are spending beyond their means. Last year, they were tenth in the league in salary ($105 million), but they’ve frequently been in the top 5 over the last decade. Owner Mike Ilitch has made a lot of money on pizza. Still, I doubt this pace is sustainable in the Detroit market. Ilitch used to play in the minor leagues for the Tigers; he’s known to ignore profitability in the interest of winning. It’s almost refreshing to see that in an age of lockouts and extreme financial analysis. Let’s hope we get a World Series while the cash is still flowing!
Update: Looks like Cabrera is heading back to third base. I was worried this might be the “solution.” We now have the heaviest infield in the majors. These guys better hit 80 home runs and drive in 225!