The Brew Crew emerged from the offseason as one of its winners, bolstered their starting rotation significantly and preserving a potent lineup. Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com checks in with some items of interest from Brewers camp, most notably how Prince Fielder's uncertain future shaped their offseason and the season to come.
- This spring will probably be Fielder's last with the Brewers, writes Morosi, but after a fine offseason, the slugger and team are in good spirits as they embark on what could be a run at the postseason. Fielder and the Brewers are not currently in extension negotiations, and Morosi thinks that is a sound strategy, because it won't give the fan base false hope.
- Because Fielder was prominent in trade rumors even as early as last season, many figured the Brewers wouldn't be able to acquire an ace pitcher this offseason without flipping him. They did, of course, landing not only an ace in Zack Greinke, but another solid mid-rotation arm in Shaun Marcum.
- Fielder's situation with the Brewers is reminiscent of Carl Crawford's final season with the Rays in 2010, when the star player and small-market club knew they'd probably part ways after the season.
- These Brewers and those Rays differ, however, in that although Milwaukee is gearing up for a postseason push with one of its best players on the brink of free agency, all of its other core players are either locked up to long-term deals or under team control, whereas Tampa Bay severed ties with a handful of other key contributors like Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit.
- The difference in hype between Fielder's and Albert Pujols' pending free agencies is "disproportionately large," writes Morosi, because although Pujols is the superior player, he's also four years older.
Morosi’s last point about Pujols being older does not give Fielder any advantage, because Fielder’s body type gives him more chance of an injury as he gets older and declines.
Fielder is also probably the plan B for anyone who loses out on Pujols. I can see the Cubs going all in if they can’t get Pujols. Also wouldn’t be surprised if the Orioles finally break open the piggy bank to land him.
I think the Nationals, assuming they don’t land Pujols, will end up with Fielder. They’ll overpay, but I feel the Nationals are going to be after him harder than any other club.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nats go full court press for Fielder. But I’m not entirely certain they’d be the highest bidder after Pujols is off the market.
As a Brewers fan, I’m hoping that the Cubs get Fielder – not in a snarky way. It would do wonders to energize the rivalry.
Is Fielder’s free agency going to impact the contract Pujols gets? I can see teams saying “we can pay less for Fielder” even though Pujols has a lot more to offer. I still feel like Fielder makes more sense on an AL team, whereas Pujols could go anywhere. Not to say that Fielder couldn’t end up in the NL, but less risky in AL.
fielder’s value would already probably increase by becoming a dh. the difference in hype between his and pujols’ pending free agency is perfectly in proportion. fielder is nowhere near that level
I agree Pujols > Fielder, I just wonder if teams looking to get Pujols can get away with claiming that they’d rather save money and still get 30-40 HR / 90+RBI out of Fielder. I don’t agree however that any player’s value increases by being less able than others to play defense…
eh? he’s currently very bad at first defensively – he costs runs. at a certain level of defensive ineptitude, given a certain level of offensive ability, a player is more valuable when all he does is hit. prince is already close to that line
you’re still right that he’s a viable backup plan for teams with a hole after albert, but he’s just not a good option long-term at first. he’s a dh. like, now
At risk of incurring the wrath of the stat gods, I have to say that Fielder isn’t as bad as people who subscribe to the fat-guy-bad-defender meme would want him to be.
Someone who has watched his “terrible” defense should be able to comment on specific deficiencies in his fielding game. Have at it.
are you ready for this?
he has extremely limited range
I think you’re understating it a little bit.
Personally would LOVE to see Fielder in a Cubs uniform for the next seven or eight seasons. He is a beast. He’s left-handed and he never gets hurt, despite the great weight he carries around. The guy is just a great player and run producer. He’s young, plays great defense, hits in the clutch, takes walks, is left-handed. What else do you need.
As far as his weight is concerned, you only need to look to his father to see that great girth does not always parlay into poor performance or a history of injury.
Pujols is The Man, no doubt, but his career is heading towards the twilight years, where Fielder’s is just heading into his prime. I think it’s a no-brainer. Less money and likely more performance in the long run.
Those twilight years will probably include at least 4 with an OPS over 1.000 and a couple of more in the .850+ range. Don’t get me wrong, he’s at the age where diminishing returns certainly step in, but he’ll still put up legendary numbers for a while.
No doubt about it. Pujols is an asset to any team. The best there is right now and top-5 all time as a hitter. However, I am thinking about the long-term implications of signing him to a seven or eight-year deal. A much younger Fielder looks like a better option than putting twenty per cent of your budget into one guy. I think realistically, Fielder could be had for $18-20M / season. I could be way out to lunch, I don’t know. Also, a lot will depend on whether or not A-Gon hits the market. Those three in the same free agent pool would be disastrous for Fielder and his agent.
There is just absolutely no way that Prince could be had for $18-20M/season. Think 22-25. Remember, he already rejected a Brewers extension offer of 5 yr/100 mil.
Defensively, Prince is not “great” or even average, but he is not as abysmally bad as most seem to think.
And for the love of god, lets drop the weight issue. Prince has played essentially every inning of every game as a Brewer, and is looking a good 20 lbs slimmer (if not a little more) this Spring. Guess we can pinpoint where Joba found his extra pounds.
Jesus, Joba showed up to camp even bigger this time?
by what measure is he not so bad defensively? at -31.2 and -38 respectively UZR and TZ both hate his work
I believe that defense is measured by defensive metrics and passing the “eye test.” While prince is extremely limited in range, he does not make “bad” errors and does a pretty good job of scooping errant throws at first. Like I said, he’s not great, or even average….which your numbers seem to state for me–I did not say he’s “not so bad,” only that he’s not as earth shatteringly, groundbreakingly, yuniesky betancourt-y bad. Reeeeeelax.
yeah i really blew up on you there didn’t i
No hard feelings. It’s the internet. Par for the course I’d say.
Sorry for misusing the word “great”. :p
Just for future reference, I am not, nor will I ever, be a Sabermetrics guy. I am, at heart, a purist.
Before the fanboys jump on their high horses, I fully understand Sabermetrics, I just do not support it’s use. Trying to reduce a player’s performance down to the lowest common denominator kind of defeats the purpose of watching baseball. Sabermetrics supporters have turned from baseball “enjoyers” to baseball over-analyzers. To paraphrase Homer Simpson: “You can quote made-up statistics to prove almost anything.”
I’ve seen Prince play. He is focused and he rarely makes a stupid play. Sure, his range isn’t Heltonian, but he gets the job done a lot more often than not. You see, when I say a player is great at something, I mean he does his damndest every time he hits the field. I want to see effort and plenty of it. Too many of these statistical darlings are the kind of player who will lollipop a throw to second because they just can’t be bothered to put in the effort. Meanwhile, they were probably paid several thousand dollars for that throw.
I am not in any way saying Pujols is one of these players. Quite the opposite. He is probably the most focused player I have seen in many years. He is superior to Prince in almost every facet of the game, but he is superior to 99% of baseball in every facet of the game. My argument is that Prince would be money better spent in the long run.
Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Also, please do not misread my comments as a hatred for Sabermetrics users/believers. Each of you is welcome to view the game as you see fit. It is my choice to not utilize Sabermetrics.
Sorry about that. I didn’t research any of his past offers. XD
Still, even at $25M per season, I’ll take him. That will still allow for a lot of money to fill some other potential holes. Plus, he is younger and still has his best years ahead of him.
His weight is not an issue for me. Like I said, his father played at a high level for a long time and he was much bigger than Prince is now.
Top 5? Dude, the best way to start a baseball argument is to say a player is a Top 5 of all time. For instance: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb. Which of them makes Top 5. My advice, side step the argument. 😉
I understand what you’re saying, but I think Fielder is just as much of a long term risk as Pujols is. Fielder’s weight being the issue. On the other hand, I’ve been making a similar argument all offseason in regards to AGon versus Pujols. Both will put up great numbers, Pujols probably better numbers, but at what point is it worth an extra $10M a season more? The Red Sox will probably sign AGon long term, so yes the question becomes which is better: Pujols for $30M a season or Fielder for $20M a season. Pujols brings with him diminishing returns but Fielder also brings the question of genetics since his father didn’t play in the majors past the age 34. Honestly between the 2, I’d rather risk Pujols. No real reason other than he’s pretty much already a first ballot HOFer.
None of those guys make my top 5… not strong enough on defense.
David C. Ruckman
Prince Fielder plays great defense? I am on my knees praying that Brewers fans don’t see this, because even they will admit (along with all the numbers that prove it) that Fielder is among the worst defensive first basemen in the game today. He’s not getting huge contracts because he plays great defense. Let’s just put it that way.
plays great defense? hits in the clutch? who are you talking about? You must not watch the Brewers ever. He’s terrible defensively, and awful in the clutch. Dude swings for the fences whenever it’s a run scoring opportunity and doesn’t connect. Look at his RBI total from last year. It’s mostly solo home runs. I would love him in a cubs uniform too. Dragging 22plus mil a year and most likely declining while bringing another selfish presence to their dugout? sign me up.
Fielder’s fielding percentage last year was .997 and Pujols’ was .998, they each had four errors and Fielder had more playing time. I can see how everyone thinks that Fielder is the worst defensive first baseman in baseball, and Pujols would in turn be the best.
what was there uzr?
if i never moved my feet and fielded only those balls that came directly to me — but never made an error on any of them — would i be a valuable defensive player?
What’s your wingspan?
Fielding percentage is the defensive equivalent to batting average.
nop, even less meaningful then BA… batting average is overrated but still important
David C. Ruckman
If you have a positive (the bat) and remove the negative (the glove), it stands to reason that isolating Fielder’s play to a DH role increases his value. Now, should he insist on playing the infield no matter where he plays, teams will show reluctance because the negative defense is being factored into the overall value. I’d say the logic there is good.
Moving Fielder to DH may limit his negative contribution, but I have a hard time seeing how it increases his value. IMO, the most valuable players contribute in the field and at the bat – a slowfooted old skill batter-only DH doesn’t have the same positional scarcity as a guy that can also field passibly. Really, is Jim Thome that much different than Fielder on a bat-only basis? And for 18 million less on a year to year basis, the DH position can be a replaceable parts set up much more than premium fielding spots.
1st base isn’t far off from DH as far as positional scarcity goes and is far from a “premium fielding” position.
David C. Ruckman
Your point and attached sarcasm would make sense if they were legitimate, but they are not. Look, Pujols put up a .998 fielding percentage with four errors while making 166 plays in ’10. Fielder put up .997 with four errors while making a whopping 114 plays. In ’09, Pujols made 210 plays while Fielder made 150. Fielder was actually an average defender then — be still, my beating heart — but at this point, it’s math. Making so small a number of plays and not having pinpoint accuracy and dependability will instantly shred one’s credibility on defense.
Fielder has very limited range at first base and his play-making ability is diminished because of it. His presence in the infield makes for an instant liability, forcing other infielders to work out of their zones more often to make otherwise “routine” plays. He forces others to compensate for his physical deficiency.
So, yeah, he is that bad. By the numbers, he’s pretty awful.
Fielder has too much power to not overpay. Nats should have waited a year and not jumped the gun with Werth.
Over the last 3 years they have practically identical WAR’s. Granted Prince is 5 years younger, but his potential weight-related issues kinda even that out.
Also, in a middle name contest Jayson Richard Gowan Werth squeaks by Prince Semien Fielder…
Werth is 31 years old, but really hasn’t he had only 2 or 3 good years in Philly? Besides that he really has been average. You would think someone that age would have a long track record to be blessed with the contract he got. Compare that with Prince who has been bludgeoning every single year with his production.
David C. Ruckman
In spite of how I feel (I agree 100% that Werth was seriously overpaid), I think Fielder getting paid ludicrous money for swinging a bat and doing nothing else of value will come across as “seriously overpaid.” But we live in a world where closers can make tens of millions of dollars, so why can’t fat home-run hitters make that much? Am I right? (I am slapping my forehead in disgust right now.)
Can someone please tell me why anyone would compare Milwaukee to Tampa Bay? The Brewers draw very well. Compared to the Rays, it’s night a day. While it’s true they are a small media market, they far surpass Tampa Bay in ticket revenue and always have.