Detroit Goes for It, Signs Prince Fielder

The Mystery Team strikes again. After months of rumors that had Prince Fielder going to Washington, Texas, Baltimore, Seattle, and everywhere in between except Detroit, the Tigers decided to respond to Victor Martinez‘s knee injury in the most extreme way possible – giving Prince Fielder an enormous amount of money.

As first reported by Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, with the details added by Jon Heyman, Fielder is set to receive $214 million over the next nine years, or just under $24 million per season. Essentially, he got the same deal as Albert Pujols, just minus one year in length. This deal ranks behind only that deal and the two Alex Rodriguez contracts as the largest investment in the history of the sport, so Fielder has essentially been paid at a level that puts him in the same company as two inner-circle Hall of Famers. No pressure or anything.

Let’s start with this deal from the Tigers perspective. As I wrote yesterday, the Tigers couldn’t afford to settle for an inferior DH replacement after losing Victor Martinez for the season with an ACL tear. With Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander in their primes, the team was essentially committed to contending, but they didn’t have a championship roster around them. The Tigers were absolutely in the sweet spot of the win curve where improving the roster could have the most impact. Adding Fielder pushes them from a solid team that would be in the mix to win a bad division up to being able to plan on playing in October and potentially challenging for a World Series title. After Martinez went down, there was probably no team in baseball that needed Fielder more than Detroit.

If they were an 85-87 win team yesterday, they’re probably closer to an 89-91 win team today. The difference in expected playoff odds for an 85 win team and a 90 win team, even in a division with no obvious challenger to the throne, is enormous. So, it’s understandable that the Tigers decided to be extremely aggressive in their desire to put the best team that they possibly could on the field for the next few seasons. When you have two superstars in their primes, you want to maximize your chances of capturing a ring, and no available player gets the Tigers closer to a championship than Fielder does.

With all that said, the long term costs of putting Fielder on this roster were extremely high. No matter how much you might like Prince Fielder’s bat, there’s no getting around the reality that he’s going to be extremely overpaid during the second half of this contract, and this deal could turn into an albatross very quickly. As we noted a few months ago, the historical aging curve for heavy players shows significant drop-off at earlier ages than most players, as it’s hard for a player carrying that much mass to maintain health and flexibility as their body starts to wear down. Fielder will have to be a big time outlier if he’s going to remain a productive player into his mid-30s, and even if you’re aggressive in your estimations of future salary inflation, a $214 million contract is going to pay him at premier player rates at ages when he’ll probably be more of a part-time role player. The question isn’t if Fielder will become a hinderance to the Tigers ability to compete, but simply a matter of when.

At this price, the Tigers are paying for something in the realm of 35 wins over the next nine years. If you believe that Fielder is a true talent +5 win player and apply the standard player aging curve which knocks off half a win per year, he’d be expected to produce +27 wins over that timeframe, a performance worth about $156 million at today’s prices. As you can see, the gap is so large that there’s almost no chance that Fielder is actually worth $214 million over the next nine years. The Tigers have basically borrowed from their future to pay for the present, and this deal is going to harm their ability to contend down the line. If Fielder ages well, he may not begin to be a real liability for three or four years. That’s the window the Tigers have essentially given themselves with this contract – win a title before 2015 before the cost of this deal becomes prohibitive to building a contending team around that contract.

With Miguel Cabrera under contract for four more seasons and Justin Verlander in town for at least three more, Fielder’s addition should make them legitimate title contenders during that window of time. And, if they win a World Series during that time, it will be easy to live with the cost to the future of the franchise while throwing a parade. However, that argument can be used to justify signing any player to any sized contract, and shouldn’t be how teams operate. At some point, the cost begins to exceed any potential benefit you could reasonably expect, no matter just how desperate you are to win or how much you think a single player will help you.

Fielder will absolutely help the Tigers. He might even be enough to help them get to the World Series and perhaps take home a trophy. But, in reality, if the team had $214 million to spend this winter, they should have been in on Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson, who won’t make as much between them as what the team just guaranteed Fielder. As I wrote yesterday, the Tigers definitely needed to make an impact move, but because they got stuck in a position where there was only one impact bat left on the market, they found themselves having to vastly overpay in order to get that improvement.

For Detroit’s sake, I hope they win a title in the next three years, because the franchise’s ability to compete long term just took a serious hit. Borrowing from the future to win in the present isn’t always a bad idea, but at these prices, the Tigers should have explored other options. The cost was simply too high.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


288 Responses to “Detroit Goes for It, Signs Prince Fielder”

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  1. I’m absolutely stunned for one, and now even more pessimistic about the Twins chances in the next couple seasons.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      2014 should be a fun season, when they’ll be paying three DH’s over 30 years old a combined $60M.

      To quote Nate Silver, “Having a roster with 3 catchers and 6 DHs is the new Moneyball”

      +38 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tdotsports says:

        Dave is completely right here, an insane signing considering the back-half of that contract (like most).

        My thing is they are favoured to win this division for the next 3 seasons IMO.

        Once the Royals become relevant (likely in the next 2-3 years) the Tigers will be paying two declining bad-bodies DHs huge, bloated contracts when they will likely need to add significant pieces to their entire roster to remain competitive.

        Odd signing.

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      • confused says:

        I don’t get the snark. Can someone please name these 9 players on the Tigers (“roster with 3 catchers and 6 DH’s”)?

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      • JDanger says:

        Are you saying this an insane signing because that back-half is too large?

        +34 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • GrittleTooth says:

      Wow. Quite the panic move. I think signing all three of Pena/Oswalt/Damon on one year deals (for as much as Prince gets in 1 of his 9 years) would have been just as sufficient. Go the reasonably-priced, quality depth route.

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      • A 9 year deal is loaded with so much risk. Its hard to imagine his numbers will last into the 7th, 8th, 9th year.

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      • Brian says:

        Honestly, the Tigers probably could have signed Fielder on a 7year, $160m contract. Had any team offered a contract within this vicinity sooner, then I’m sure he would have been signed much earlier.

        It’s a good move, only for the fact that neither Fielder, Cabrera, or V-Mart have a NTC.

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      • David K says:

        “It’s a good move, only for the fact that neither Fielder, Cabrera, or V-Mart have a NTC.”

        That doesn’t make much difference if none of them would actually be TRADEABLE when the Tigers would want to offload them.

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    • Resolution says:

      If I were the Tigers I would have given Prince an opt-out after year 3. He’d be 30-31, young enough to still get a contract (assuming he keeps playing well), and he’d be on the Tigers for the bulk of the Cabrera, Verlander, Scherzer window…

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      • todmod says:

        I saw this comment a lot from various people – it makes no sense. Player opt-outs are not beneficial to the team.

        Even in a case where Fielder might want to opt out AND the Tigers wouldn’t want the long-term investment, the Tigers could simply trade him to any team that was crazy enough to want to offer more money than he has remaining.

        Player opt-outs help the player. Not the team.

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      • ezb230 says:

        I’d like to know why any good player isn’t with Boras.

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  2. David in DC says:

    The Tigers are going to be good, not as good as the World Famous Seattle Mariners (#6, #6 , #6!), but they will be a good team.

    -131 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andrew Kelly says:

      Hey you want to dig up a dead horse that’s already been beaten to a pulp and smack it with a Louisville Slugger?

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      • David in DC says:

        Awww, did little Davey’s feelings get all hurty wurty?
        Listen, Cameron hates everything the Tigers do. I could have written the article for him. Inefficient, blah, blah, blah. Oh, why did the Tigers not sign 2 players who had no interest in playing for them? They are so dumb. Same crap, different day.
        And I’ll keep bringing up #6 for as long as its funny, which will be like 6 (get it 6!) more years.
        Hall monitor in grade school, right?

        -139 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nathan says:

        DavidInDC — as a Tigers fan, who is thrilled about this deal in the short-term, and if it helps bring a World Series, will be worth the future punishment… I have to agree with the words you are putting in Dave’s mouth about the Tigers being an inefficient organization. They continue to lag behind and follow “old school” trends and methods instead of proactively trying to find market inefficiencies that they can exploit to make their team more efficient.

        In a sick way, the worst thing that happened to the Tigs was the fluke ’06 run — it teased Ilitch and Dombrowski to the point that they’ve continued chasing the WS title with poorly spent money and a complete absence of a farm system.

        But as a Tigers fan, and given that I have no control over the circumstances, I’m going to enjoy this signing and hopefully enjoy the heck out of the next two or three seasons before it goes inevitably sour.

        +32 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • cable fixer says:

        “a complete absence of a farm system.”

        I guess my question is: If you’re in a position where you have two terrific players worth 15ish WAR for the next 2 years and with very little in terms of impact players down on the farm…isn’t this exactly the sort of move you make?

        I mean, don’t mistake me for defending their process (or the years/$ of this deal)–we’d all love to be Toronto or KC (now, not for the past 20 years)…i just feel as a community we’re underrating the importance of winning now because we’ve bought into the prospect “bubble”.

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      • Nathan says:

        @cable:

        I agree with you completely. At this point, to me they have to and might as well just go all in. If they can move Turner and/or Castellanos for a more legitimate #2/#3 starter, they might as well do it. Because after this promising 2 – 4 year window closes, they will be forced to blow it up and start over anyhow… there is no smooth transition lying ahead.

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    • 420 Thuglyfe Bluntslayer says:

      His downvotes are off the charts!!!

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        what a white suburban name. If you tried harder, you couldn’t have a more stereotypical 16-20 (or up to 30 if you’re uneducated) white name. I applaud you, it’s hilarious.

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    • nilbog44 says:

      What is the significance of #6? I don’t get it. I admit that i’m behind i guess.

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      • INGY says:

        666 IS SATANS NUMBER!!!!!!!!!EVERYBODY LEARNED THAT IN THE 1ST GRADE

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      • CardinalRules says:

        Fangraphs has been doing organizational rankings for several years. In 2010, Dave Cameron ranked Seattle #6 (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/organizational-rankings-recap/) The methodology went beyond simply considering who had the best on-the-field talent, but still it appeared like Dave had been engaging in more than a little homerism. He was derided quite a bit for this. Dave being Dave, initially argued he was right but ultimately admitted he was a little off the mark. Most mature readers have accepted this, and with the passing of time, have let the case rest. Most mature readers accept that Dave is a valuable contributor and factor in that he leans toward the Mariners and the American League when they read his articles.

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  3. T-Baggy says:

    “But, in reality, if the team had $214 million to spend this winter, they should have been in on Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson, whose won’t make as much between them as what the team just guaranteed Fielder”

    That is the key sentence for me. This was a panic move plain and simple. Fielder will be very good for the next few years, but is not on the level of Pujols or A-Rod, especially given historical trends of big players, which Tigers completely ignored. Teams should build for short and long-term success.

    +29 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Peter O says:

      Agree 100%. Panic move, and Boras just needed one dumb owner to get what he wanted. Besides Edgar Martinez I don’t think any DH has been worth 5+ Wins over a 9 year stretch. Not Thome, Thomas, Giambi, Moliter… no one.

      +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nathan says:

        Peter O, I agree that the move is a panic move, but you are completely wrong implying Ilitch is a “dumb” owner. I gather you are not a Detroit sports fan and/or are not from Michigan.

        Ilitch has been a revelation for the Red Wings, and has done a lot of positive things for the Tigers.

        Baseball is the weakness of Ilitch — he was a minor league player with a contract with the Tigers when he was young. And, as I’ve pointed out in other threads recently, he is getting old and desperately desires a World Series ring.

        There is no doubt he loves the Red Wings as well, but I think baseball is his first and most passionate love in sports, and he’s had so much success with the Wings because he’s been able to separate his emotions from his decision making and build that club the right way. With the Tigers, I think he is so emotional that he has a hard time seeing the same long-term vision he has been able to cultivate with the Wings.

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      • IvanGrushenko says:

        If that’s really true that Ilitch wants a World Series title more than anything else, why not go harder after Reyes and Wilson? Why wait till now to make a move?

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      • CardinalRules says:

        I think this move proves that Boras has struck deals with the devils of multiple major and minor religions.

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    • tiger fan orlando says:

      You take the steroids out of A-Roid and he never would have gotten the money. You take the roids out of him and he falls apart. I would rather take my chances on a guy who has always been big and the Tigers training and condition coaches.

      -22 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Antonio Bananas says:

        shouldn’t you know better than to point out that steroids help make you stronger and faster? I mean, there isn’t an explicit study that absolutely proves it makes you a better baseball player (just the human functions that go into playing baseball), thus, we can’t conclude it doesn’t help you play baseball better.

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  4. Ethan says:

    The author’s anti-everything Detroit shows again.

    -94 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • 300ZXNA says:

      Poe’s law?

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    • JG says:

      Some of writers here are a bit anti-Detroit IMO (especially the Rotographs guy who kept insisting Verlander isn’t a top tier pitcher for all of last season), but Cameron is nearly always fair.

      +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • David in DC says:

        Cameron on Everet, Laird and Jackson transactions. (0-3 for those of you scoring at home)

        I’ve said a lot of good things about Dave Dombrowski this week, who made moves I liked in picking up Gerald Laird and Adam Everett to fill holes without surrendering much talent expending a lot of payroll. Well, yesterday, he took all that good will and gave it right back, making a ridiculously bad trade with Tampa Bay, sending outfielder Matt Joyce to the Rays for RHP Edwin Jackson.

        -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • BIP says:

        He liked two moves Detroit made, so he’s anti-Detroit?

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        Actually, the Tigers could really use Joyce now, after a 3.8 fWAR season last year. Jackson was moved after one season (albeit a good one, 3.6 fWAR), and while he was certainly one of the assets they used in the Granderson deal, he was hardly the main attraction.

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    • JDanger says:

      He’s not anti-everything Detroit, he’s actually anti-everything Ethan. He hates your guts, Ethan. Everything about you. Your team. Your hairdo. Your pants. Your lemon-scented tabletops.

      Isn’t it obvious?

      +94 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ST says:

      Did you know that sometimes people are going to say things that you disagree with? Especially if you are a fan of the team? Its pretty silly to suggest he has some kind of “Anti-Detroit” bias. He doesn’t like the idea, just deal with it.

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  5. JMag043 says:

    Best 1-2 punch in the league

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  6. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    Nine-year, $214 million deal for an overweight DH? This is a disaster and will come back to haunt Detroit in a few years…

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • SC2GG says:

      It’s ok, the US Govt will bail them out.

      It’s almost eerie. In several years, the salaries (which might as well be pensions) of the Big Three will crush Detroit’s ability to compete with emerging markets.

      +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chone Figgins MVP says:

        I really think Detroit is going to need a bail out.

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      • JG says:

        Big Three? Victor was only signed to a four year deal. Unless you mean Verlander, who is – you know, as good and reliable as CC but younger and not fat. I get what you were going for, but it doesn’t really work.

        (BTW, why was CC’s monster weight brought up so much less than Fielder’s? Is it because the Yankees can afford for him to suck in 5 years?)

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      • Ian R. says:

        I think (and I don’t have hard evidence to back this up) that really overweight pitchers tend to age better than really overweight position players. David Wells was fatter than Sabathia, and he was effective well into his 40s. Not that he was all that similar, apart from being fat and left-handed, but still.

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      • ST says:

        stupid. By the way, GM is once again leading the world in sales again.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        ST, Toyota was tops the year before, they were wiped out (literally). Sure it’s partly their fault because all their suppliers were in one place, but still, isn’t that like if you lose the Presidential race, then he dies, and you were his VP “I WON THE RACE”

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      • Ribald smiff says:

        I think CC has almost a foot on him

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    • West says:

      Won’t matter if they win a world series.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Eh. Success breeds entitlement. If they win a WS in the next two years, you’re just going to see Detroit fans whining about how hamstrung the roster is by this move when they start missing the playoffs a few years down the road.

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      • IvanGrushenko says:

        Not as much as they will if the Tigers win nothing over the next four years

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  7. Colin says:

    Solid acquisition in the immediate future. If this prevents resigning Cabrera or Verlander I would be pretty upset. And clearly by year 7-9 this contract is going to stink a lot.

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  8. db says:

    “But, in reality, if the team had $214 million to spend this winter, they should have been in on Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson, whose won’t make as much between them as what the team just guaranteed Fielder”

    that’s also the key sentence for me. do we know it’s guaranteed? olney thinks the the fine print may include an opt-out clause.

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    • Eric says:

      sort of. But Reyes is potentially a much bigger injury risk than Fielder and Wilson is already 31. Fielder is a pretty safe bet to be an elite hitter for the next several years. Beyond that, it’s a high price to pay for a DH. But if the Tigers are going to be rolling with a payroll more in the $130-150 million range 6 years from now it won’t be a huge issue.

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  9. Andrew says:

    I think the points about the contract are fair, but using Reyes and Wilson as examples of guys they should’ve gone after is not. Martinez suffered a season-ending injury well after those guys were off the board.

    Also, I think a really interesting aspect of this deal is what happens next off season. It’s easy to assume that Martinez is moved, but what if The Tigers trade Fielder to one of the teams that were in on him this season or The Dodgers or Mets?

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    • Old Rungo says:

      I don’t think you can move him after this year- it only makes the contract that much worse. After every year he makes more money, and you would presumably get diminishing returns on the field as he moves past his prime. I don’t know who would bite at that unless the Tigers picked up some of the contract as well.

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    • davef says:

      Why would the Mets or Dodgers trade for that much contract AND give up talent to make it happen? Neither side would be happy with what they’re getting or giving up to make it happen.

      And, the Martinez injury shouldn’t have been the factor in going after fielder. I think Dave’s point was that there was 24MM AAV for the forseeable future available, why apply it to a position of strength when you can address to voids- starting pitcher and shortstop.

      With the 24MM they had on hand, why were they not willing to spend it on areas of need earlier on the off-season? I think this goes to show just how much money these owners sit on year over year.

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    • IvanGrushenko says:

      Why should they have waited till the Martinez injury at all if they had the money to sign Reyes and Wilsoon? Did they think they were so far ahead of the league that they didn’t need more good players?

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    • paqza says:

      The Mets have a couple of young, cost-controlled 1B that can put up ~80% of the production at or near the league minimum – Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Neither is going to hit 50 homeruns but at the same time, neither is going to cost $200 million. Remember – the Mets are the team that refused to give Reyes 6/$105 million.

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  10. SC2GG says:

    Stupid Tigers.
    I really thought that maybe the owners would win this Boras battle for a change, that he was just asking too much and too long for someone who can’t possibly help enough to justify the cost, but here we go again.

    I hope the smart teams (Jays, Rays, Rangers) can continue their overall team-building path throughout the first four to five years of these ridiculous overpaid old guy contracts, so those awful contracts can actually be detrimental.

    C’mon man :(

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    • JG says:

      This has nothing to do with the GM. It’s all about Illitch, who will almost certainly be dead by the end of this contract. Hence him wanting to win right now. Plus, you know, the injury that a key player suffered at the end of free agent season.

      Also, I wouldn’t call the Rangers one of the quiet “smart” teams on a budget after they went for Darvish.

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      • Nathan says:

        Exactly… people that aren’t in Michigan and haven’t followed this team and the Red Wings their entire life don’t quite get it… not saying it is right, but you need to realize the passion and deep desire Ilitch has for baseball and a World Series to understand the bad overspending he’s done (Pudge, Maggs, Sheff, now Prince).

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  11. James says:

    Wow. If Victor was hurt a couple months ago I think they would have explored the Reyes/Wilson combo you mentioned. This signing has Illitch’s hands all over it. I bet you’ll hear some stories in the next couple days about Illitch telling Dombrowski he wanted Fielder.

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  12. Slartibartfast says:

    The next market inefficiency:

    Having three DHs.

    +20 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. David says:

    Odds VMart can catch every day when he comes back in 2013? If he can’t, he’s going to be even a more expensive PH than Magglio was

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    • David in DC says:

      the starting catcher for the AL in the All Star game was a guy named Alex Avila. Watch much baseball?

      -42 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • d_i says:

      I think they’re going to try to move Cabrera back to 3b slowly. Unlikely to work at his new size, but much like Montero at C, if he can just not be horrible, it might be the best.

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      • Colin says:

        I was thinking they might try him at LF and deal Young. Who knows though. 3B makes the most sense given the way the team is set up right now.

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      • MikeS says:

        I’ve been watching baseball for a long time and usually when a team crosses their fingers and hopes a position player will be “not horrible” so that they can justify his bat, the player rarely fails to be horrible or even worse. Even ignoring advanced fielding metrics, when a player looks like he shouldn’t be issued a glove, it’s ugly.

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      • Andrew says:

        Word is Cabby will be at 3B. He’s a better defender than given credit. If he sheds a few pounds, he can be better than people think.

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      • 44 says:

        The Yanks started Yogi Berra in LF in ’61….. that musta been fun to watch.

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      • Yinka Double Dare says:

        He was below average there 5 years and ~40 pounds ago. He’ll be awful there in 2013 if that’s what they’re going to do.

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      • Colin says:

        Yinka, Cabby isn’t close to 40 lbs heavier than he was at 3b. Not even close. As recently as 10′ he showed up to camp in the best shape of his career.

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      • a seattle fan says:

        Who doesn’t show up to camp in the best shape of their life? The fact Cabrera didn’t in 2011 should be deeply disturbing for Tigers fans.

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    • Nate says:

      My initial thought is that they’d move Cabrera to 3b in 2013. I just can’t see that working out well.

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  14. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    Just think of how angry big Cecil is right now?

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    • walt526 says:

      Just to put how inflated salaries have gone in the past 15-20 years… Cecil grossed approximately $29M in his 8.5 seasons with the Tigers (I’m roughly prorating 1996). Prince will eclipse that in a little over a season.

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  15. Slartibartfast says:

    And great point, Dave:

    Reyes + Wilson >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Fielder.

    This contract is… yikes.

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    • West says:

      They were better than Prince, I doubt either of them will earn their contracts, Prince will earn his at least his first 5.

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      • Slartibartfast says:

        Earning portions of your contract is useless to discuss. Unless you know the player is going to retire (ala the bogus Kovalchuk deal couple years ago in hockey), you have to consider the lifetime of the deal.

        My comment didn’t have much substance, so let’s disregard it.

        The better way to say it is… they just grossly overpaid for Prince, and I would have rather overpaid for Reyes and Wilson by a small amount than overpay 1 aging slugger by a large amount.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Wilson is a top pick for “fall off a cliff any day now” and Reyes is a top fick for “never have another great year ever”. Fielder will at least be good for 5. I’ll take a 90% sure thing over two HUUUUGE question marks any day, even if I have to overpay for 3-4 bad years.

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    • Eric says:

      Not necessarily. Fielder is the safest bet of the 3 to be an elite player over the next 3 years. So while I agree that it is likely that Reyes and Wilson are better, it’s not a slam dunk. It’s also worth pointing out that really your comparison would be Fielder + somebody else on the roster compared to WIlson + Reyes. It’s a 25 man roster, not unlimited.

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      • Slartibartfast says:

        True enough, it’s not a slam dunk. I will retract most of those “>>>>”

        But practically every team in the league would replace their 5th SP if possible, or move that SP to the pen and drop their worst reliever. So your second point is mostly moot.

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  16. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    I don’t like Bora$ (note the dollar sign) but he’s done it once again and proven to be the best in the business.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      So why don’t you like him? He’s a brilliant negotiator who serves his clients well. In doing so, he also helps to redistribute millions of dollars from billionaire businessmen to the athletes we love to watch.

      +19 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nate says:

        True. We (fans) tend to side w/ the organizations we follow, not the individual players, even though the owners make a heck a lot more than any individual player and often take little risk.

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    • Woodrum's UZR Article says:

      how the hell can you not like boras?

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Study baseball. Up until free agency, players were raped. Not literally, but the owners pocketed sooooo much money. Even today, many players, even highly paid ones, are paid a fraction of their MRP (marginal revenue product, it’s how many of us are paid). For example, it’s estimated that in 2001 Barry Bonds generated around 70M for his team. 70M. I’d guess that Pujols has been worth more than 30M a year for the cards. Yet HE is considered the greedy one by most cards fans. forget the dollar amount, if you knew how much the billionaire owners made and saw their faces every day, you’d be more pissed at them and praising Boras.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mike says:

        It was good of you to clarify that the players weren’t literally being raped.

        +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Antonio Bananas says:

        On this site, where people take EVERYTHING literally (again, not literally, an exaggerationt to make my point, just most people), I did feel like I had to clarify. People always use older players’ salaries to “prove” how they played for love of the game and loyalty. Fact is, that just proves how underpaid players of the past were grossly underpaid. Ruth is all time in WAR, but made less in his career than many do in a year, even adjusted for US inflation. Should look at how much owners made/make too.

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  17. Vin says:

    Dave is always the one to write up the big signings.

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  18. AdamLaz says:

    Worst long term signing in MLB history? Would be hard to argue..

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  19. Bonkers says:

    So they just laid down 214MM for a DH, right? Doesn’t that effect his overall worth too, since he’ll never play defense? Or will Miggy move back to 3B?

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  20. Colin says:

    I seriously cannot believe Boras got what he was looking for. Completely absurd. For DD’s sake, I hope this was the Pizza man’s call.

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    • Patrick says:

      To be fair, Boras said he wanted a deal that surpassed Pujols. So he did not get what he was looking for. Though he usually blows a bunch of SMOAK, perhaps he can buy a new Mitsubishi MONTERO with his commission from this deal.

      SOOO Happy the Mariners were not involved in this.

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    • Frank says:

      It sounds like a move Illitch would make. He showed some willingness to open up his pocket book when he took on Sheffield. He wants a title and he’s going for it and I’ll be eating my pizza watching it happen.

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  21. D4P says:

    I wouldn’t have thought there was $214 million in the entire city of Detroit.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Dekker says:

    I think this aging curve is much more likely.

    5.5
    5.0
    4.5
    4.0
    3.5
    3.0
    2.5
    2.0
    2.0

    That’s 32 WAR. If the money is not backloaded, the deal should work very well in the beginning (get to the ~90 win threshold) and not a hindrance at the backend. This is a reasonable gamble all the way around.

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    • Patrick says:

      Disagree strongly. Even though Prince was in better shape his dad was only worth 1+ WAR at age 31 and above. Fielder should realistically reach 26 WAR if he ages well. And statisticallly-speaking the injury-curve will catch up with him

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • beconstructive says:

        Actually Cecil didn’t really drop off significantly with the bat until his age 34 season, which for Prince would be 2018, the 7th year of the deal. He just wasn’t as good of a hitter for as long as Prince is/was.

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      • JayT says:

        Also keep in mind that Prince has shown himself to be a far superior player to Cecil. prince is probably about a true 5 win player, while Cecil had is one monster year, and a couple of ok years, and not much else.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Y will the injury curve catch up? He will b 28-36. As a part time dh, maybe it starts around 34. David Ortiz, who looks far less coordinated and athletic has really only had 1 year where he’s missed significant time, and even then he had nearly 500 PA.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      You can’t just look at his career year (2011) and assume that’s his true talent level going forward. He’s averaged 3.90 WAR over the past 6 seasons. If he had been at DH instead, it would’ve only been 3.69 WAR/season.

      Not only that, your aging curve is very generous considering his body type.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bstar says:

        Meanwhile, Albert Pujols has averaged 7.93 WAR over the same six seasons, more than double Prince’s production.

        I can deal with the length of the contract, it’s the money he got that bothers me more. He’s being paid like he’s Pujols, but he never has been. Every other year, his OPS takes a 100+ point dip. I will root for the guy to reverse that trend cos I’m a fan of Prince, but his inconsistency from year to year and having to learn a new league of pitchers suggests he may indeed have another down year.

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    • Ian says:

      David Ortiz has gone for 33.5 WAR the past 9 years (since age 27, so one year younger than Fielder), and that’s with virtually zero time in the field…if Cabrera can somehow handle 3rd base without killing himself, and Fielder plays 1B for much of this deal, it’s not inconceivable to see him at 30-35 WAR. Still an overpay though.

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      • Ian R. says:

        Ah, but if Cabrera plays 3B badly, won’t that hurt his WAR? Of course he’ll get the positional adjustment for playing a tougher position, but he could give that away and more with his (lack of) glove.

        Shifting wins from Cabrera to Fielder doesn’t help the Tigers. If Fielder himself puts up 30-35 WAR, but the Tigers as a team only increase their WAR by 25, it’s a huge overpay.

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      • Ian says:

        It could, but it’s unlikely. He’ll likely gain around 1.2 wins from the position change. He was -8 runs at 1B last year…he’d have to go to -20 at 3B to offset the positional difference, but his worst season at 3rd was -11 runs in 2007 (per BBR)…maybe he does become a -20 3rd basemen (Reynolds was -25 this year), but it’s tough to say that he’d become a consistent -25 to -30, which is what he’d need to be to lose 5-10 WAR over the course of the contract.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ToddM says:

        If and when the Tigers have a different viable option at third, you have a point (Castellanos is a long way off). Brandon Inge is freaking HORRIBLE with the stick.

        Even with the VMart injury, if Miggy plays third, this is replacing last year’s VMart and Inge with Fielder and (?). Either Young for a full year, maybe signing Damon, maybe something else. It’s a huge offensive gain and a big hit in defense at third.

        If Cabrera can play the hot corner and Delmon DHs, at least it gets Young out of left field. I don’t care what his numbers said last year, Delmon is a nightmare in the outfield.

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      • bstar says:

        I think Cabrera would really only lose ~1 WAR if he plays third full-time. As mentioned earlier, his worst defensive WAR at third was -1.1 in 2007 and he received -0.7 last year playing 1B. I don’t see him with those good hands getting much worse than -1.5 WAR if he fields the hot corner full-time. So at least his B-ref WAR would only go down maybe one full point.

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    • Woodrum's UZR Article says:

      If you think the money shouldn’t be backloaded, then you either don’t know what backloaded means or don’t understand economics. If you consider the time value of money, a backloaded deal is ALWAYS preferable for the team.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Especially considering that the inflation of baseball salaries is almost a guarantee to be greater than the regular US inflation. Even if it slows to correct itself from the substantial growth we’ve seen, I’d bet it’s still greater than the 3%ish average of the US economy. This isn’t a bad deal and shouldn’t cripple the organization.

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  23. Crap Shoot says:

    Ryan Howard is off the hook for worst contract.

    -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nate says:

      Let’s re-visit in 5 years. My guess is Howard’s contract will be worse. Remember, it was a 5 year contract a few years before he reached FA, effectively adding risk of an even longer contract than just 5 years.

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      • Nick says:

        And Howard hits worse than a utility infielder against LHPs, which, in my mind, reduces his value pretty dramatically due to the high leverage PA problems that will invariably arise in the play-offs.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      is Crap Shoot a Phillies fan despirately hoping they don’t look like the Cubs in 2 years? Let’s see, Howard always Ked a lot, which is bad. Howard had his first full season at 25, players of all ability levels generally age the same. If you’re just getting called up at 25, that’s a bad sign. That alone was a sign he probably wouldn’t last. Howards only talent was really hitting for power and the walks that go with that fear. I know we lol @ batting averages here, but when you either K or whiff or walk, then your power drops, you have NOTHING left. That’s Howard.

      Fielder’s first full year was 22, so, if he follows a fairly typical production curve, should be productive for longer. Really, the only thing Howard ever did that is clearly statistically better than Fielder is RBIs, which don’t matter as we know on fangraphs. Plus Howard can’t be a DH.

      In other words, gonna be pretty hard for Fielder’s contract to be worse than Howard’s.

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    • JG says:

      Howard is getting more money per year than Fielder. He has eclipsed Fielder’s 2011 WAR exactly once in his career: in 2006. Howard has been a below-average player for the past two seasons. Despite the greatly increased number of years of production in Fielder’s contract, they will be the same age at the end of their respective contracts. Howard is worse in every aspect of playing baseball: hitting, fielding, and baserunning.

      If you have a relatively pessimistic prediction of Fielder (i.e. he goes down to 2 WAR when he reaches age 33 or so) he will still be better after that five year decline than Ryan Howard is right now. Did I mention that Prince Fielder’s AAV is less than Ryan Howard’s?

      Prince’s contract is a once or twice an offseason shortsighted move. Ill-advised, but routine. Howard’s contract is in the conversation of worst front-office decision in the history of professional sports.

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    • Ian R. says:

      Howard’s overall contract may not be the worst of all time, but Howard’s circumstances make his extension probably the worst front office decision of all time.

      With his age and skill set, Howard probably only had 3-4 useful years left at the time the extension was signed. The Phillies already had him under contract for two of those years at a reasonably affordable price when they signed him to a mind-boggling five-year extension.

      Big contracts like Fielder’s are built on the premise that the player will do well enough in the first few years to offset the loss of money on the back end. The Phillies already had the first few useful years and added the useless back end for little if any tangible benefit.

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  24. Matt says:

    I understand the logic of adding players while still trying to save money for the future. But, what is the tipping point between an Atlanta Braves team that was a consistent winner but won “only” one World Series and a Tigers team that positions themselves well for a shot at a title every year for the next four. Yes, there will be a point when they need to rebuild and don’t have the money to do so, but it is worth it if they can win a title or two. Plus, from a GM/front office perspective they are probably thinking what are the chances I’m even here when Prince’s deal is up? Their focus is setting the Tigers up for instant success.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Plus Detroit paying 25M isn’t the same as Tampa Bay paying 25M. It’s not that hard with a 100-120M payroll or more to afford a decent team. It’s called scouting. The Tigers have a pretty good track record with prospects too. The back loaded contract means the money in future years will take up a lower percent of payroll. It’s not a bad deal. He won’t earn the WAR/$, but they should win a lot and they’ll be able to afford a competitive team around him.

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  25. Andrea Maramotti says:

    His father got pretty good years in Detroit. Could be history repeating with a bit higher paycheck.

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  26. Jaron says:

    Stop it with your calm, cool logic Dave. You’re hurting my Tigers fan feelings.

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  27. Colin says:

    Next move for the Tigers, hire a guy at $20 bucks an hour to go around chasing Cabrera and Fielder with a whip until they each lose 20 lbs (Fielder maybe 40 lbs).

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  28. Tim says:

    Mo Vaughn raked to age 34, Albert Belle to 33, David Ortiz to 35 and counting….3 fat dudes… on the he won’t produce at age 34ish theory

    Inge Valverde and DY2 go off the books after this year for $22m, so teh cash is there long term and short term…

    What DD saw is that the same year VMart leaves, Verlander is FA too, so he’ll cannibalize some of the VMart $ to pay JV and the rest to reward whichever of Fister or Scherzer works out to be the #2 SP. The other, along with Porcello, will be dealt or not retained and the young arms like Turner Smyly Crosby Paulino will fill out the rotation. Turner profiles as a 1/2 and the other guys all have 2/3 starter upside. 2 of those 4 should turn out…betting Turner and Smyly due to control…

    Long term, it’s 2b,SS and closer that are issues…but long term 1b/dh/c/cf/rf and maybe 3b if Castellanos turns out look like + positions

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ronin says:

      Who are the CF and RF in your scenario? Austin Jackson reminds me a lot of Milt Cuyler and Boesch’s hitting stats are very simliar to everyone’s most hated Tiger Raburn, while his glove is closer to D.Young bad.

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  29. buddy says:

    Dave, you forgot the key part of this deal, which is that Mike Ilitch will be dead in 5 years and thus doesn’t care about the back end of the contract.

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  30. Bill but not Ted says:

    Prince is one rich vegan

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  31. JMag043 says:

    Why on earth would anyone voluntarily move to Detroit?

    -35 Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Andrew says:

    Also, how is it that a team that won 95 games in 2011 and didn’t lose a significant piece of that team, only an 85 win team without Fielder?

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  33. Kevin says:

    As an unashamedly biased Tigers’ fan, I am actually pretty optimistic about this. I’ve actually preferred Prince to Pujols since this offseason started because of his age and slightly smaller demands. He’s pretty dang athletic for a guy his size, and his power/patience skill set often ages well. Honestly, I don’t think that a David Ortiz career path is out of the question. As for where to play him, I think they could shift Cabrera back to third temporarily if they absolutely had to (i.e. nobody wants v-mart and he can’t catch when he comes back). They’d be horrendous on D, but they would surely be able to outhit their deficiencies for at least 5 years. Lastly, its a good PR move. I mean, c’mon who doesn’t want to see two of the 10 best power hitters in the league hit back to back, Prince try to outdo his father’s Detroit caree, and see how bad Leyland can screw up an even more loaded batting order? BOLD move. Prudent? Probably not. But exciting nonetheless!

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. James says:

    I don’t know if Wilson or Reyes would’e been a consideration, because I think it’s unlikely they would’ve spent $214 million dollars if Victor Martinez doesn’t go down. Now, this doesn’t *excuse* an outlay like that, merely explains it.

    I think signing someone like Edwin Jackson (who’s still available) would’ve been a more efficient option and kept them competitive for their three year window of opportunity. Not as good as Fielder, but still good enough to keep them at the top of the division and at a fracion of the cost.

    Not to mention the whole DH thing. If they’re serious about Cabrera at third base, he’ll need a net

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  35. Harv says:

    For the record, I am a BIG Fielder fan (and Brewer fan)

    Fielder’s performance has been up and down year to year. I think assuming more consistent performance is ill-advised.

    Prince is a dreadful first baseman and will only get worse over time. Same with his baserunning.

    Boras routinely circumvents management to negotiate with ownership. Owners like to THINK they are good at negotiating but typically they stink. Boras is exploiting this fact.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie says:

      Never thought about this before, but you’re obviously right. Thanks for this particular insight.

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    • jac says:

      This is what I was thinking too. The article starts with the assumption that he’s a “true talent 5 win player,” but because of his big swings he’s actually averaged less than 4.5 WAR over the last 5 years.

      That adjustment alone takes the expected wins over the contract down 4.5, making it even LESS likely he earns this contract. I think the more interesting conversation is whether he earns half of it.

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      • The Real Neal says:

        Seems a bit like cheery picking. He’s a 5.1 win player per year according to Fan Graphs over the last three years, if you agree that their UZR scores for first basemen are accurate.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        If he has a negative fielding value, and then DHs….that negative is no longer there right? So shouldn’t we look at his hitting value almost exclusively?

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      • bstar says:

        At least according to B-ref, Antonio, you are right. He would get a big fat zero of defensive WAR if he DH’ed full time. At 1B, he’s averaged ~(-0.8) dWAR/yr for his career.

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  36. Blue says:

    DAVE CAMERON HATES THE WORKING CLASS!!!!!1!!!!11

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  37. Joey B says:

    Say they could’ve traded for Papi for not much prospects, and then signed him for $13M, and then suppose VMart is okay for ’13 and ’14, the difference between what they’d pay to those two guys and Fielder is about $15M per.

    It’s the equivalent of saying the choice was Papi/VMart/VMart, plus Wilson, of Fielder plus a replacement level SP.

    Fielder can hit, but he doesn’t dominate a Papi/Vmart combo. And not nearly so much that having a Wilson, or his equivalent, dominate a replacement level SP. I think it would be too much for a DH in any case, since Papi makes a little more than half of Fielder, but add to that the fact that you already have a capable DH on the payroll for ’13 and ’14, it seems like a huge waste of money. Even if you trade VMart, you won’t get away without cutting a check for $10M.

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  38. Steve says:

    Prince’s WAR over the past 6 seasons:
    1.3
    5.1
    1.7
    6.4
    3.4
    5.5

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  39. Randy says:

    I’m going to go against the consensus here and say that I like the risk. I think the article lays out very well the downside to this deal and how the Tigers will be in a poor financial situation, for example, 5 years from now. I do not disagree with any of the points made. It is a very well-written and reasoned article. However, the Tigers have had a history of committing too much money to aging veterans, and it simply has not worked out. Therefore, it isn’t as surprising they would do something like this. The difference is that the upside to this deal is that the Tigers should be a lock to win the division and make the playoffs for at least the next 3-4 years. As baseball fans, casual or otherwise, we recognize the importance of making the playoffs, whether its viewed from the perspective of ticket sales, merchandising, or just the general excitement associated with watching your team in October. The Tigers are in no danger of ever leaving Detroit-they have survived the dark years of losing 100+ games, the economic recession, and the mass exodus of people from Detroit. They are still here and will be indefinitely. If you are Mr. Ilitich, you realize the potential impact of having a perennial contender in that town-Detroit fans are extremely loyal and have the rich tradition dating back to the early years of baseball just like the Redsox and Yankees. Ilitch himself doesn’t have a lot of time to accomplish whatever else it is he wants to accomplish, and one has to think his personal aspirations, legacy, and association with the city plays a role here. I can at least admire that about him. If Albert Pujols at his age is worth the contract that Anaheim gave him, than Prince Fielder at the age of 27 is worth this contract. You can certainly argue that neither of them are worth it. Look closely at the stats from last season and you see Prince outperformed Pujols. I think Fielder is a better investment at this point than Pujols for 10 years. If the Tigers have to trade everyone away in five years, eat salary, and lose 100+ games, it will be worth it to me if they won at least one World Series and brought joy to the fan base in that city and state. This has invigorated the Detroit fanbase in a way that nothing else the Tigers could do would. I want to thank Mr. Ilitch for taking such a large financial risk knowing that Fielder probably won’t be worth it the second half of the contract because he is fully committed to winning a World Series right now. It’s a bold move and I hope it pays off.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jpg says:

      I agree here too.

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    • bstar says:

      Dude, it’s called a paragraph.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BrianWilliamson says:

      From what I understand, merchandising dollars are split evenly among all thirty teams, so it’s a fallacy to believe that making the postseason benefits a team from a merchandising revenue perspective…

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      • joser says:

        They get the gate, concessions, and (depending on how the contracts work), broadcast money, however. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And then there’s the big enchilada: the potential for negotiating a future TV contract from the position of strength you get from winning seasons and post-season runs.

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      • AJS says:

        My understanding is that merchandise splitting includes only the wholesale costs. So getting someone to buy a Fielder jersey at a team store (i.e. one in the ballpark) does pay off for Detroit.

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    • catswithbats says:

      Also, someone (possibly Henning?) commented that Ilitch told Dombrowski to do the deal, knowing that it would inevitably be bad in the future. So it’s not like they didn’t know what they were getting into.

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  40. Ian says:

    As a Tigers fan, ecstatic with the move, and with the fact that we likely have the best owner in sports – one willing to lose money to try to win us a World Series. We are very lucky, as we were with Bill Davidson before he accidentally forgot to set up a succession plan for the Pistons.
    Cabrera back at 3rd should be entertaining, but will help get more value for Fielder’s efforts so long as he’s not simply DHing the whole time.
    The really interesting thing will be in the 2012 offseason, when Detroit shops Fielder to the Mets and Dodgers for next-to-nothing in return, and they ended up getting Fielder for one year, $18M (or whatever the first season’s payout will be), and DD will be lauded as the greatest GM of all time.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      The Mets have no money, and their best young player is a 1B. I can’t imagine them considering Fielder.

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    • Grindle says:

      “The really interesting thing will be in the 2012 offseason, when Detroit shops Fielder to the Mets and Dodgers for next-to-nothing in return, and they ended up getting Fielder for one year, $18M (or whatever the first season’s payout will be), and DD will be lauded as the greatest GM of all time.”

      Cute story. You must watch Lifetime.

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      • Ian says:

        I can dream…not pretending I know anything about the behind the scenes discussions – just saying that I can absolutely see it happening that the Dodgers situation gets cleared up, they realize that they have the best hitter and pitcher in the NL, but have somehow let Loney play the most important hitter’s position for the past 6 years – they then look at their counterparts wielding Pujols, and they take on Fielder’s contract. You cannot say that it is infeasible.
        As for the Mets being broke – agreed, but that can’t last – MLB won’t let teams in its two largest markets eff themselves up for too long.

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    • 20389438 says:

      You know Omar Minaya is not the Mets’ GM anymore, right?

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    • jim says:

      while the thought of prince fielder hitting with matt kemp sends shivers down my rockies fan spine, uh… no.

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    • Nathan says:

      I think you’re being sarcastic… but yeah, that isn’t happening.

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  41. Randy says:

    I’d like to add that if the Tigs do not perform up to expectations the next few years (winning the division and making the World Series) that multiple firings should occur. This is a very weak division and there is no excuse for not winning it year in and year out given that you have 3 of the top players in all of baseball.

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  42. James says:

    I’m curious when their television deal is up for renewal… If they are going to be signing a new deal soon, having Fielder in addition to Verlander and Cabrera could conceivably boost the value of the contract, which, when combined with an anticipated increase in revenue due to increased regular season ticket sales and playoff appearances, could help offset the overpay (not to mention the possibility he stays productive at a later age by DHing a la David Ortiz).

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  43. JayT says:

    I think more then anything this is the work of an 80 year old billionaire owner. Ilitch doesn’t care if the team makes money or not, he just wants to see them win, and with Martinez going down this signing gives them the best chance at that. I’m guessing the last four years or so will not be great, but I think Prince will give them a good five years of production.

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  44. JTrangers says:

    Fielder is a great player, but he is not going to live up to that contract, just like Pujols won’t in L.A. Watching my Rangers take almost a decade to recover from the debilitating A-Rod contract of 2001 was not pleasant, and ARod in his prime was the best player in baseball.

    With one of the poorest farm systems in baseball, Detroit will be crippled by this contract because they will not be able to develop enough cheap talent, trade for it or pay for it in freeagency in the future.

    Win now Detroit – that cloud on the horizon is a bloated Princecontract blimp.

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    • Nate says:

      “debilitating A-Rod contract of 2001″

      No, ARod lived up to that deal, and then some. It was all the other FA signings. 40 year old Andres Galarraga ($6m), traded for Carl Everett’s contract ($17m over 2 years, and go 1.1 WAR), traded for washed up John Rocker, signed Juan Gonzalez for 2 years/$24m and got 0.4 WAR out of him. Chan Ho Park got over $50m for 1.2 WAR over 4 years.

      Also, they gave up Podsednik, Doug Davis, Danny Kolb, and Hafner for next to nothing.

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      • Ian R. says:

        A-Rod did live up to his contract, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Rangers gave him $100M more than the next best offer. They could have easily spent tens of millions of dollars less on A-Rod and spent that money on other players.

        Of course, given how badly the Rangers managed the money they DID have, it’s tough to say that would’ve been a big improvement.

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  45. kid says:

    I miss the golden age of PEDs where you could sign a 35-yr old player to a multi-year deal and sleep peacefully at night.

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  46. Randy says:

    JTranger, I think the the poor farm system is actually one of the justifications for making such a move. Long term do I believe player development is the way to win? Yes, most certainly. But I think the Tigers are making moves knowing that they have two elite players in their prime and little talent coming through the farm system to help them. I also think Ilitch sat on his thumbs too long and let the Tigers suffer while the Redwings won, and now that he is aging has decided to sink money into the team.

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  47. Nathan says:

    It has been discussed in the comments, but I’m waiting for the next article on FG about this that dissects the position change of Cabrera back to 3B, and how potentially awful that will be.

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  48. Owen says:

    Who was bidding so much for Prince that they decided they had to give him Pujols money? I don’t get it. Was the market really there for his services?

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    • Richie says:

      No market. Boras got an owner to bid against himself yet again. Illitch is one of his favorite foils. Was it this past season where they picked up the final $18 mill option on Ordonez’s contract, mainly to keep in Boras’ good graces? I’m sure Illitch now figures Boras just returned him that favor.

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      • Walsh says:

        The Mags options ($15 in ’10, $18 for ’11) were vesting not team options.. hard to hold a healthy guy out of a lineup to avoid a vesting option.

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      • Richie says:

        You’re right, now that you mention it I remember it that way. Where you’re a bit less-right is that Ordonez was not playing all THAT well. He easily could’ve been benched, or platooned. And should’ve been, certainly in 2010 for a .500 ballclub. Such teams send their veterans to the bench all the time to look at kids. Ilitch instead decided to commit another $18 mill to a guy worth a fraction of that.

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    • Robbie G. says:

      I’m surprised that it took this long for someone to ask this question. This is the big question for me. Whether we’re talking about baseball players or CEOs or coal miners or whatever, why would an employer EVER pay more than the market says that this worker is worth? If somebody out there was offering Prince Fielder nine years, $213 mil, then by all means, up the ante. But if the best offer out there was, say, seven years, $170 mil, then shouldn’t an offer of seven years, $175 mil get it done?

      If I walk into the grocery store, and a gallon of milk costs $2.79, do I walk up to the counter and say, “Hell, I really want this gallon of milk, I’ll pay you $4.50 for it!” No, I pay $2.79, no matter how badly I want that gallon of milk.

      There has been a fair amount of discussion in the economics field in the past several years regarding the age-old assumption that human beings are ultimately rational creatures in the marketplace. This hypothesis has been pretty effectively challenged. This Prince Fielder contract is yet another example. He’s a heck of a ballplayer, though, and it’s pretty difficult for me to believe that the fan base isn’t going to love the guy.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • joser says:

        If it’s only a difference of a few million, those “other things” that players like to talk about but rarely are swayed by — the city, the team, the park, proximity to family, the chance to play for a winner — may actually be a factor, requiring the team that is less desirable in those aspects to up the ante. And we know the way top-tier players get rewarded is more in length of contract than annual value; it could well be someone offered him almost as much (or even more) but for fewer years, and he liked this better.

        As for humans being rational economic creatures, that has been pretty thoroughly debunked in economic circles. About the only people who still believe it are libertarians, which makes them as delusional as marxists.

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      • Because if you know what all the other teams are offering, it’s called “collusion” and you wind up paying $150 million in penalties. Teams only have to guess what the other offers are. If you want an example of teams not knowing what the other bids are… who knew the Tigers were even interested?

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      • Bob G. says:

        Baseball players don’t have price tags on them like milk at the grocery story. You never know what someone else is willing to pay. I’m sure everyone else didn’t realize the Tigers were willing to pay $214M for Prince.

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  49. Richie says:

    The ‘Sweet Spot’ is a factor of how likely you are to make the playoffs, not how many wins you project to. Given how incredibly weak their division is, the Tigers were no more in the ‘Sweet Spot’ than the Yankees are. They were definitely beyond it.

    So they’ve sold off, not mortgaged, their future to very slighty increase their already good chances of making the playoffs. And added a big bat for those playoffs, albeit one who’d have to sit out half the World Series games. (it’s laughable to suggest that MiggyC can go back to 3rd base) And have little to no remaining ability to take on salary to cover up for whatever injuries happen , or take advantage of an opportunity. And closed off the DH spot for when Miggy’s legs could use a break but you’d like to keep his bat in the lineup.

    This isn’t even a good short-term move. It’s a gamble that they’ll have a healthy season, which if they don’t, then they’d like that money back this year right away already.

    That one poster has it right. Texas’ ARod signing was far, far more defensible than this is. This is awful.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ian says:

      Four years younger than Pujols, at least (we’ll eventually discover that Pujols broke in at age 30).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Richie says:

        Yeah, if Pujols really is the age I think he is, then it’ll be a good competition to see which contract winds up being worse.

        I’d still wager on this one. Moreno and the Anaheim market can cover up for that contract better than whatever post-Ilitch guy winds up buying this then-wreck of a ballclub.

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      • Ian says:

        Sure, Moreno can afford it easier than Ilitch, but Ilitch isn’t broke. Key will be the succession plan – his kids have long been involved with the franchise, and hopefully they’ve laid things out appropriately, so we don’t have to see a Pistons-like collapse upon Ilitch’s death.

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      • Richie says:

        No, we’ll see an Astros-like collapse.

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      • Bob G. says:

        @ Richie

        So you’re saying the guy who buys the club will do so not knowing Prince is on the books?

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  50. Chris says:

    Two things -

    1) The Tigers had to overpay because, unfortunately, Detroit isn’t an attractive market fro free agents.

    2) Their owner Mike Illitch is in his 80s and he desperately wants to win a World Series before he dies. That desire trumps any concerns about the long-term awfulness of this deal. Illitch probably has 3-4 years left.

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    • Richie says:

      There’s nothing particularly unattractive about Detroit. All players on all teams live in the ritziest suburbs, then head south when the season’s over.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Chris says:

        Oh, I know that. I live in the Detroit suburbs and it’s a really great place to live and raise a family. There’s just very little glitz and glamor here, particularly in the actual city of Detroit, and there is still a pretty prevalent negative perception of the city.

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      • Richie says:

        When you’re 20-something with a net worth well into 8 figures, you can buy all the glitz and glamor that you want.

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      • ngrimson says:

        hooray for white flight?

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    • davisnc says:

      Chris–Right on re: the point about Ilitch’s age. I made a similar point below after browsing and missed yours. No one seems to be talking about it. It might be extraneous to a “hard” discussion of value and risk, but it’s the reality of the situation.

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  51. Joe C says:

    How good does the Red Sox trade and extension for Adrian Gonzalez look right now?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  52. Ed Nelson says:

    Well this is all assuming that Fielder and Cabrera are both going to remain Tigers for the rest of their contracts and that just doesn’t seem likely. It’s much more likely Cabrera is traded in a couple of years (or even next year) leaving the Tigers with a big, but not budget busting, contract. It seems convenient that Cabrera gets arrested again and less than a year later the Tigers pay 200 million for a player who plays his position.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tim says:

      Tigers long term payroll isn’t an issue

      The TV money will go up. Attendance will go up a bit in the season and having 3-7 playoff games every other year or so is an uplift $ wise. Plus the merchandise sold…

      Beyond the new streams, the current payroll will absorb Fielder long term and re-upping Verlander in 2015 and re-upping Cabrera in 2016 will be a decrease in his annual payout.

      2013 Inge Valverde and D Young drop off and free up $22m, with no big current contract increases, but likely about $15m uplift in arbitration increases for Scherzer Porcello Fister Avila jackson and Boesch…so short term payroll will bump up a bit 2013-14, but it was going to anyways because of the arbitration process regardless…Fielder is a net neutral long term and a net 10m increase in 2012 considering half of VMart’s money comes back from insurance.

      In 2015 JV is a FA, but so is VMart, and he will go, freeing up $13m to add to JV’s $20m base by say 4m, and the rest to cover increases to the other core guys…as will the net decrease to Cabrera’s contract extension after the current one is up in 2015…

      plus Peralta will drop off after 2013 to teh tune of $6m, etc etc….and Mike Illitch is used to spending big bucks…he was the Yankees of the NHL before thy had a cap w the Wings….plus I hear his casino, Little Caesar’s, concert venues and real estate ventures make $ too…he doesn’t care if he dies worth 1.3Billion or 1.27Billion…he wants a ring

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JG says:

      This has nothing to do with Cabrera’s DUI. If it was, the Tigers would have been in on Pujols and most likely would have been linked to Fielder before VMart went down.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • catswithbats says:

      //It seems convenient that Cabrera gets arrested again and less than a year later the Tigers pay 200 million for a player who plays his position.//

      This had nothing to do with the Fielder signing. It had at least 90% to do with VMart getting hurt.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  53. kid says:

    Go watch Robocop and come back and tell me that Detroit is not a great city to settle down in.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  54. Chone Figgins MVP says:

    I declare Prince & Cecil the fattest Father/Son combo in professional sports history.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  55. Richie says:

    One more nugget. When batters switch to DHing, they on average lose 5 runs a year off their hitting. And yes, that’s accounting for age and whatnot, per Tom Tango’s research. So some more reason to project Fielder downward quicker than you normally would.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  56. jpg says:

    I’m obviously in the minority but I don’t think its that bad of deal. Was it a big overpay? Yes. Is he the best fit from considering the Tigers already have a better player playing the same position and a good player who plays the other position Prince can fill who is out for the year? No obviously not…

    But he gives them exactly what they needed on offense. He’s not even 28 yet and I believe the weight stuff is being way overblown. Prince has been as durable as one can be (game played since 06′ – 157, 158, 159, 162, 161, 162). Now one may argue that past durability isn’t the best indicator of future health, but really, is that study of overweight players that was done any better at predicting it? There are way to many variables involved in a player’s decline for too much stock to be taken into it. The guy has been in the lineup almost every day of his big year career. I don’t buy it that he’s a lock to become injury prone just because he’s big. To me there is just as good a chance that he can age well and be a productive DH in his mid- thirties as other big men have like Frank Thomas and Jim Thome, as there is the possibility that he’ll eat himself out of the league like Mo Vaughn did at like 32.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jeff_bonds says:

      Thome and Frank Thomas are around 5 inches taller than Fielder and 50 lb. lighter. I don’t think those are very good comparisons. I’m counting Fielder at 300 lb., but even if he weighs the reported 275 lb., that still leaves you worrying about diabetes issues, let alone injuries.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Richie says:

        Exactly. Particularly Thome in his 20s had nothing like Prince’s current body type.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JG says:

        There is absolutely no way Frank Thomas was 50 lbs lighter than Prince. I mean, I don’t disagree with your main point, but that guy was built like a sequoia.

        He was probably within 50 pounds of what Prince weighs now by the time he was 12.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  57. cwendt says:

    Wait, I had something for this…

    So, you’d call it a HUGE overpay?

    Also: Overweight lefties are the new market inefficiency.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  58. Antonio Bananas says:

    I don’t think it’s all that bad. He’ll be in his age 28-36 years. So he’ll probably still be very good for at least the first 5 (28-32). So will Verlander and Cabrera; barring injury of course. After that they just need to have a strong farm to fill in league minimum players for about 3-5 years, which isn’t THAT hard to do. Plus it’s the American League, you don’t have to be a baseball player to play, just hit the shit out of the ball. Have Cabrera and Fielder split time at DH in a few years.

    My guess is they’re following the Phillies model. Tie up a bunch of guys so that yea, when the’re 33-37 they aren’t going to be worth the contract at all, but keep drafting athletic players with upside who take 3-5 years to develop, so when those players are on the decline, you have youngins to pick up the slack.

    Personally, I’d be more comfortable with Verlander, Prince, and Cabrera over the next 5 years than Lee, Halladay, (even Hamels), and Howard.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JG says:

      Well said. It’s not the fault of any of the writers, (as I believe most criticized the Phillies moves as well) but there’s definitely a double standard going on with a lot of commenters. Phillies are right in going all-in because pennants are up forever. Tigers are making a terrible mistake that will haunt them for the next decade.

      For what it’s worth, if Fielder’s contract is bad, as some have said, Ryan Howard’s is so terrible it hurts me to think about it – and I’m not a Phillies fan.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  59. Duke says:

    Like father like son? I thought it might be interesting to look at the decline curve for Cecil Fielder. His peak was his age 26 season. His last strong (+3 WAR) season was age 28. I would have thought, based on age, that a Prince signing of 6-7 years was OK, but this would concern me, although everyone’s different.

    By the way, there were rumors of another mystery team and a one year signing. Anyone know who this could be? If true, the rumors could fit with the Yankees who can use a DH but want to get under the tax limit in a couple of years.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • The Real Neal says:

      I see them playing out like Griffey father and son or Boone father and sons or the Bonds father/son.

      They bat different, there’s about a five inch difference in height, and they don’t even look the same, other than “black and heavy set”.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  60. ST says:

    Why are some Michigan sports fans suggesting that for some reason they are different then the average sports fan, and that everyone else “wouldn’t understand”? You guys do realize that people are as passionate about their teams correct? Illitch comment about giving up one teams championships for another are hardly new.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  61. davisnc says:

    I think the piece missing, rightly or wrongly, from all the analysis I’ve read (so far) is that Mike Ilitch turns 83 this year. He purchased the Tigers in 1992, having been born in Detroit and played minor league ball for the organization. He’s owned the Tigers through some rough years–some of which he contributed to, no doubt–and now has the chance to grab a title before he dies. His family is set for life, and you can’t take it with you.

    Dave’s analysis says that there’s about a $60 million gap between Prince’s contract and what we can reasonably expect him to produce on the field. I’ve read (no idea as to credibility, I think it was Olney who said it) that the Tigers are getting about $13 million from the insurance policy they took out on Victor Martinez. For what it’s worth.

    Not sure if it’s a smart move (probably not), but Ilitch seems to be all-in. As a Tigers fan, I’m definitely looking forward to the next 3 or 4 years. I just wish they could find a damned leadoff hitter.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  62. Tom says:

    Nine years of Reyes and Wilson would not have been 214mil.

    You can’t compare total amount of contract…. Reyes and Wilson collectively are making more per year (~32-33mil AAV) than Fielder so to say they would have cost the same amount is a bit disingeuous.

    The point is good, but no need to bend the facts to make it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ToddM says:

      I’m actually more interested in what convinced Prince to come to Detroit. I’m sure the answer is just “more money”, but I’d like it to be something more interesting.

      How about the chance to break his daddy’s team HR record? How about bringing a title to Motown, something his daddy didn’t do?

      Whatever it is, he’s going to have to put up with a lot of media shit for this.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jim says:

        opportunity to win and play in the playoffs has to have been a big factor

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JoMo says:

        Well, his daddy doesn’t own the team home run record–Hank Greenberg does, with 58. But it’s true that Cecil never got the Tigers to the postseason. Now Prince needs to do it a bunch of times to justify this contract.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Colin says:

        Well I think aside from the money, 1. he actually does like the metro Detroit area, 2. He probably does want to supplant his dads legacy with his own with the Tigers just to stick it to him.

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  63. Barkey Walker says:

    Laughing at the idea that A Rod might make the HOF. Seriously, I’d put (lots and lots of) money on the line for that one.

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  64. adohaj says:

    I see no problem with using tomorow’s dollars for today’s wins. Philly has been doing it for a while now. When does the dropoff happen??

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  65. INGY says:

    BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH GUESS WHAT……….REYES AND WILSON HAD NO INTEREST AT ALL IN COMING TO DETROIT!!!!!!!!WHY BOTHER SAYING THE TIGERS SHOULD HAVE SIGNED EITHER ONE OF THEM………..DETROIT IS WAY TOO COLD FOR BOTH OF THEM AND CJ WILSON NEEDS A TRENDY HIPSTER CITY AND DETROIT IS FAR FROM THAT……..NOW THAT PRINCE HAS MADE PEACE WITH HIS FATHER HE DECIDED TO EMULATE HIS DAD AND GO TO DETROIT…….STOP WITH THIS STUPID CRAP ABOUT WAR AND VORP AND JUST CELEBRATE BEING A TIGERS FAN AND GETTING THE BEST FREE AGENT IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL!!!!!AND NO THAT WAS NOT ALBERT PUJOLS…AS FAR AS WE KNOW PUJOLS IS NAMED DON PACO TACO CHIPOTLE AND IS ACTUALLY 36 NOW……..A 10 YEAR CONTRACT FOR PUJOLS WILL TAKE HIM INTO HIS MID 40S!!!!!!!!!!!!

    -9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lord Sir Oliver Nottingham, Admissions Provost of Oxford University says:

      Such poetry of the like I have never seen before. What is your name, good sir, and your pursuit? I should like to offer you admission to our most prestigious institution. You would make a most sterling addition to our Fine Arts and Romance Languages department. Your command of the English language is beyond sublime.

      +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chris from Bothell says:

      Hey, I remember my first beer too.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jpg says:

      I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS SITE BY ACCIDENT AND NEVER RETURN

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      This comment is great. It may be my favorite one since the “Your an idiot” comment after the Jacobs’ trade.
      It gets a little of everything.
      All Caps – Check
      Elipses – Check
      Multiple Exclamation points – Check
      Racist (But not in the hateful Rev. Wright kind of way, more in a 12 year old ignorant kind of way)- Check
      Unsupported opinion presented as fact – Check

      This post has it all.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  66. TBrook16 says:

    You can crunch all the sabermetrics you want, but two numbers count; 83 & $2,000,000,000. Tiger owner Mike Illich’s age and his net wealth.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      I think you’ve got it. I wish my team was owned by a billionaire desperate to win instead of a job crushing asbestos lawyer out to make a buck.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  67. Bill in the D says:

    Yes the contract may blow in the later years but this chart is good reference to why it will be great for at least 4-5 years:

    WPA: Batters
    Jose Bautista 7.86
    Prince Fielder 7.52
    Miguel Cabrera 7.31
    Joey Votto 6.69
    Matt Kemp 6.43

    2 of the top 3 there and not to mention the top pitcher in the same metric.

    I understand that we may be paying for the next few years of wins with our future seasons, but hell we’ve been on the cusp seemingly since 06′. Needed to do something to get us over the edge.

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  68. Theo says:

    If the Red Sox got Fielder for 15 years / $400 everyone here would be calling it the smartest move EVER. Since this is Detroit, and Fielder got market value, it’s being called insane.

    You guys are full of double standards.

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      If the Red Sox made a contract offer that bad, nobody would support it and there would be calls to replace the Red Sox entire front office. Detroit may have paid market value, but the market over values him. Secondly, the market value for Fielder is different for Fielder the DH and Fielder the first baseman. Detroit paid around the market value for Fielder the first baseman. They overpaid for Fielder the DH.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Theo says:

        Have you ever heard of exaggeration before?

        Last year, if the Sox got Fielder instead of AGone or Crawford, you guys would be calling this one of the smartest contracts of all time.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ian R. says:

        I’m pretty sure that when the Red Sox went out and got Crawford and Lackey, those contracts got their fair share of criticism. I have no doubt that if they overpaid for Fielder, they’d get the same response.

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  69. Theo says:

    By the way, Reyes would be a waste of good money. How many division titles did the Mets win with Reyes? 2nd, he doesn’t put any fans in seats. A prolific home run hitter, like Prince Fielder, who has deep roots to the Tigerst, will sell millions of tickets and help put the Tigers in the play-offs.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      Wait, we judge player value based upon how many division titles teams win with them? Punto won some division titles with the Twins. Therefore, Punto is better than Reyes. Ron Santo never won a division title. Punto is better than he is. Ron Santo is a hall of famer, so Punto should also be in the hall.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Theo says:

        You are taking me completely out of context. Where do you get Punto from? He’s no $100+ Million Player. He played with some great franchise players though, like Pujols and Joe Mauer.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  70. justanotherfantoo says:

    Wow. Prince Fielder’s road OPS in 2011 puts him 10th among NL batters with 215 or more road at bats.

    More surprising was who ranked one spot behind him in 2011 — no one other than Albert Pujols!

    Two contracts that aren’t likely to be fondly remembered or end well…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  71. Ender says:

    Historical curves don’t generally apply to elite players and Prince Fielder doesn’t really have the same body type as the people you are comparing him to, he is way more athletic than the typical heavy body type player. Anytime you hand out a 9 year contract it is most likely that the last few years will be a failure, I think the risk with Fielder is being overstated though. The biggest issues with the contract is the poor defense and poor baserunning which chips away at his value, not nearly as worried about the aging curve.

    Also the Reyes and Wilson comment is pretty silly, neither player was going to sign for something like 9 years so you simply cannot compare the contracts. Both signings also happened before VMart got hurt which complete changed the dynamic of the club. Reyes is a higher risk player than Fielder because of his injury history, Wilson is higher risk because of the fact he is a pitcher with a pretty marginal skillset. You take the elite defense that Texas has away from him and let his velocity slip a tiny bit and he profiles as a 4 ERA pitcher before the end of his 5 year contract.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  72. Neuter Your Dogma says:

    “As we noted a few months ago, the historical aging curve for heavy players shows significant drop-off at earlier ages than most players, as it’s hard for a player carrying that much mass to maintain health and flexibility as their body starts to wear down. ”

    This can be fixed, right? Someone call the fat ranch.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      Okay, but that’s probably looking at players like Boog Powell and similar types.

      Prince Fielder has elite bat speed and is very athletic for his size.

      As I mentioned before, Willie Stargell was very productive up through the age of 35, and he and Rick Reuschel would have been their generations version of CC Sabathia and Prince Fielder.

      We should also look at those “heavy” players and see if any of them have played essentially every single game over their career.

      Prince Fielder has missed 13 total games over 6 full seasons, and only 1 game over his last 3 seasons.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  73. CircleChange11 says:

    Dave, I thought this was very fair treatment of the situation.

    When my son told me Prince signed for 9/214, one of my first thoughts was that FG would be blowing this deal up from every direction.

    Obviously, it’s an overpay, and that has to be pointed out. But, I thought the scenario of putting DET in position to make the playoffs and them being in the “sweet spot” for adding wins was very accurate and handled well.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • hernandez17 says:

      They could’ve made the playoffs with their eyes closed without signing Fielder. Fielder makes them much more competitive against big offenses in short postseason series, but as far as *making* the playoffs, they didn’t need a signing this big (pun intended) to make that happen.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  74. Eric says:

    This may or may not work out for the Tigers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  75. tigerdog says:

    I have no doubt that Fielder’s contract will be an albatross by the time it’s over. But Mike Ilitch will be 91 years old, if he’s even around by that time.

    Hey, if Congress can mortgage the future by spending now, why can’t Mr. Ilitch?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  76. gwaring01 says:

    High praise to Boras, but what does this mean for Edwin Jackson?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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