Well, I’m not surprised in the least that Prince Fielder didn’t return to the Brewers, and quite frankly I don’t think any Brewer fan is surprised.
Yet, although I knew it was coming and have had a long time to prepare for it, a part of me is still very sad that it’s official that Prince won’t being wearing a Milwaukee uniform in 2012.
Since his first major league hit on June 15, 2005, Prince Fielder has done some simply amazing things for the Milwaukee Brewers.
In his 7 season with the Brew Crew, he managed to put up some numbers that are stunning. He hit 230 home runs, drove in 656 runs, compiled just under 1,000 hits, and had an on-base percentage of .390.
In addition the stats, he has a very lengthy list of accomplishments that he built up with the Crew. He’s a 3-time All-Star (and was the 2011 All-Star Game MVP), won the 2009 Home Run Derby, won 2 Silver Slugger awards, won the 2007 NL Hank Aaron Award, set a franchise record with 50 home runs during the 2007 season, and trailed only Hall of Famer Robin Yount for most home runs in franchise history.
Prince always clobbered towering home runs, and he never failed to excite the Milwaukee faithful. He may have been a big liability defensively, but his offense and clubhouse leadership did more than enough to make up for it. Fielder was a spectacular teammate, and there was very little drama between players during his time in Milwaukee.
He and Ryan Braun were the best 3-4 punch in baseball, and they will go down in Brewers lore for being the ultimate sluggers that helped lead Milwaukee to the playoffs twice in a span of 4 years. For fans of the Red Sox and Yankees, making the playoffs twice in 4 years is mediocre, but to Brewer fans, it was nothing short of absolutely amazing. We’re talking about a team that didn’t make the postseason for 26 years, a drought that was broken in 2008.
Without Prince Fielder, I’m fairly certain that the Milwaukee playoff drought would be at 29 years and counting.
Now as far as Prince’s contract with the Detroit Tigers goes, I think that it is pretty risky. Sure Prince is a very good player, but 9 years and $214 million seems a little steep to me. While the money he’s getting is excessive, it’s the length of the contract that bothers me the most.
Prince isn’t exactly the lightest guy around (he was listed VERY generously at 270 pounds with the Brewers), and if he ends up being a full-time DH, his weight could balloon up to if not over 350 pounds by the end of even next season. Remember, Fielder is this fat at age 27, what do you think he’s going be like when he’s in his mid-30s?
In addition to the health issues for Fielder, his new contract could create a big payroll problem for the Tigers. His huge contract may make it next to impossible for Detroit to re-sign both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, whose contracts run through 2015 and 2014 respectively. There’s no question in my mind that Prince will help the Tigers immensely in the short-term, but it’s problems in the long run that should have Tiger fans a little bit uneasy with this contract.
But despite all of that, I think that the signing of Prince Fielder will have more positive effects on the Tigers than there will be negatives. He gives them a great chance to win a World Series in the next several years, and I would be shocked if Detroit doesn’t win the AL Central by a wide margin.
As much as Fielder will help the Tigers, I care much more about how much his departure will hurt the Brewers.
The Brew Crew will, in all likelihood, be without Ryan Braun for the first 50 games of the 2012 season, and the rest of the team has a lot of slack to pick up on offense. Even once Braun is back, he no longer has Prince backing him up, so pitchers will be able to pitch around him, which they couldn’t do in the past.
But worst of all, this ball club is without its leader.
Prince Fielder’s love for his teammates and the city where he played for seven seasons can’t be matched, and he will be missed dearly. Fielder gave us Brewers fans a ton of great memories, and these past few seasons were the ideal time to be a Milwaukee fan.
Braun and Fielder, beast mode, 2 playoff appearances, Racing Sausages, Tony Plush, the icon Bob Uecker, and much more made these past few years (especially 2011), amazing, and that’s why I don’t think any true Milwaukee fan will hold a grudge against Prince. When he steps to the plate during interleague play at Miller Park, the Milwaukee faithful will give Prince Fielder the standing ovation that he deserves.
Prince, I wish you the best of luck going forward with your new team, and I just want to say thanks.