January 24, 2012
Tigers find their Prince
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
TORONTO - When Cecil Fielder was in Woodbridge more than two weeks ago for the inaugural Ontario Blue Jays Hall of Fame inductions, he predicted his son Prince would sign with the Washington Nationals.
Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowksi said Thursday, “We’d consider Prince, but realistically, it’s probably not a good fit.” The GM said he didn’t think agent Scott Boras would consider a one-year deal for Fielder.
And now Prince is headed to the Tigers’ clubhouse, signing a nine-year, $214-million (U.S.) deal with Detroit, according to CBSSports.com.
Could Boras have gone over Dombrowksi’s head and phoned owner Mike Ilitch?
You think Tigers fans care one bit?
With Detroit losing DH Victor Martinez, who knocked in 103 runs last year, for the season after tearing his ACL during off-season workouts, the Tigers had a need. But Martinez is expected to be healthy again in 2013.
Fielder will play first while Miguel Cabrera moves to third base.
Bottom line: Boras is one smooth operator.
Only three contracts in major league history are worth more than Fielder’s: Alex Rodriguez with the New York Yankees (2008-17), $275 million, Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels (2012-21), $254 million and Rodriguez, Texas Rangers (2001-10), $252 million. Boras represents Rodriguez and Fielder.
Most amazing is that with big spenders such as the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and the Angels set at first base with Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira and Pujols, respectively, Boras found a spot for his client.
So Boras was left to talk with teams such as the Seattle Mariners, the Baltimore Orioles or the Rangers.
Opposing GMs were chuckling on the weekend over the fact that while Pujols, five years older, received a 10-year deal, Fielder could be left with only a four- or five-year deal on the table.
Enter Boras the magnificent.
When Baseball America celebrated its 25th anniversary years ago, Boras was named the most influential man in the game.
He has not lost his touch.
The impending signing with the Tigers brings the Fielder father-and-son combo full circle, like Bobby and Barry Bonds with the San Francisco Giants and Ken and Ken Jr. with the Cincinnati Reds.
The Blue Jays had roughly 200 at-bats to give Cecil Fielder in 1989 after he split the DH duties with Fred McGriff the year before, so his contract was sold to the Hanshin Tigers.
Cecil Fielder hit .308 with 38 homers and came home from Japan after breaking his hand, when the late Bill Lajoie, GM of the Tigers, called to ask, “Would you like to become a Detroit Tiger?”
Then, as GM of the Milwaukee Brewers, Lajoie selected Prince Fielder seventh overall in North America in the 2002 draft.
Big Daddy hit 52 homers at Tiger Stadium in 1990-91 (95 over the course of two seasons).
We also saw Prince go upper deck as a Grade 11 student during early batting practice ... at Tiger Stadium.
At Detroit’s Comerica Park, Prince will try to follow in his father’s footsteps after averaging 37 home runs the last six seasons at Miller Park.
Prince hit .299 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs in his final year with the Brewers. He also sported a .981 OPS.
The loss of Fielder leaves a gaping hole in the Brewers’ lineup, especially with the team also facing the possible suspension of left fielder Ryan Braun for 50 games due to a violation of baseball’s drug policy.
With the Brewers, Prince was durable, appearing in at least 157 games in each of the last six seasons.
The Blue Jays thought the 5-foot-11, 275-pound Fielder was a bad-bodied athlete at age 27 this season, would be next year at age 28 and certainly would be at the end of a five-year deal ... as we wrote in September.
How will his range around the base at first and movement on the bases be at age 36?
That’s a down-the-road question, such as Pujols’ production 10 years from now.
Right now, fans in Anaheim are happy that Pujols has landed there and Prince headed to Detroit rather than division rival Texas.
And Tiger fans are excited that owner Ilitch has saved the day.