Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Well, Who Saw That Coming?

Well, at the start of this offseason I made my predictions as to where I thought both Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols would end up.  At the time I was of the opinion that Pujols would stay in St. Louis, Fielder would be a Cub, and that the Angels could potentially be a dark horse in the running for either player, but it was unlikely.

Wow was I wrong.

St. Louis tried without success to convince Albert to stay, and when he didn't they grabbed Carlos Beltran to both fill the hole in their lineup, and allow Berkman to move full time to first base.  The Cubs went completely in the other direction and acquired top prospect (and a player I followed with great interest last year) Anthony Rizzo to be their first basemen of the future.

I based my opinions on the time around which MLB franchises had both the funds, and the position availability to pursue either of the stud first basemen.  It seemed to me that the market was shallow for teams that fit this criteria.  As it turned out, both players went to teams that appeared to already have their first base situation well at hand.

This afternoon the Detroit Tigers proved that AA isn't the only quiet predator in the American League, when they seemingly came out of no where and inked Prince Fielder to a nine year, $214 million.  Seriously?? Detroit??  Did anybody see that coming?

Sure, we all heard last week that Victor Martinez had torn his ACL, and was likely to miss the entire 2012 season.  So we expected that the Tigers would respond and try to sign someone to fill the gap left by VMart's absence.  However, I assumed that with Martinez being under contract through the 2014 season that the Tigers would be more likely to consider the likes of Carlos Pena on a one year deal.  NOT Fielder for nine.

Nine years!  Nine years?  Did anyone at this point in the off-season actually believe that Boras was going to get the long term deal he was lusting after for Fielder?  Honestly, anybody?  I sure didn't.  I assumed that with Washington and Texas appearing to be the only teams left interested, Boras would have to lower the bar and shoot for the same, or maybe even a little more money on a shorter term.  A six year deal with an opt out after three years perhaps.  Allowing Prince to hit the market again at 30 if he so chose, when presumably the Mets and Dodgers would each have stable ownership, and a bank account again.  I thought that best case scenario Fielder would get one of the few teams still interested to go to seven to get the deal done.  Not nine.  Wow.

 This opens up another topic of interest for discussion next year.  Who is the odd man out in Detroit?  What do you do with three first basemen?  We assume that Martinez isn't going to catch again, especially after having a repaired ACL.  Brendon Inge's contract is up at the end of this season, but surely the tigers aren't going to let Cabrera go back to third?  Would they?  Could he possibly play a corner outfield spot?  Do they try to trade one of them?

Time will tell I suppose.  For now we can all admire the best 3-4 combination in baseball as they lead the Tigers to another post season berth, and probably the world series.  This Tigers team was looking pretty damn good in a weak division.  It was very plausible looking at this division yesterday that the Tigers were going to take the Central by ten games.  Now, who knows.  But you can bet we'll all be watching with interest.

One final thought:  How high is Cabrera's average going to be with Fielder protecting him in the line up?  .340?  This is going to be something to see.

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