Some exquisite thoughts on the new Prince of Detroit

Okay, I guess I’ve had a few hours to digest what happened yesterday. It originally started on a high note as I confirmed my work schedule so that starting Friday I can get a much needed five day vacation.

When I first found out about Prince signing with Detroit I had been taking a break from work, I was reading twitter and laughing at certain people getting irritated with the fake insider accounts when I saw a tweet from Tim Brown over at Yahoo (Yahoo baseball writers break EVERYTHING these days):

That was in response to a fake @JohnHeymanCBS account, now suspended so I can’t link the original tweet. I must admit, it was very clever of someone to add the “h” to @JonHeymanCBS, but this is obviously annoying.

Brown then tweeted this:

Then this:

Within 15 minutes Brown had tweeted three things and probably felt pretty dumb. So then, he said this:

It was followed on twitter by a lot of confusing tweeters (tweetees? twits?) and a bunch of people (myself included) thinking that Brown was trolling everyone.

Then it got serious:

Remember reading this from Buster Olney this morning?:

Like most people, I didn’t really comprehend what actually happened. Like most people, I never even considered that Prince would sign with the Tigers, because of Miggy, because of his Dad, because…who comes to Detroit? Free Agents don’t sign with the Tigers unless they are ‘B Players’ or former ‘A Players’ who are like 35 and on their way out of the game. I mean, they signed Cabrera after they traded for him. They signed Verlander last spring before he hit Free Agency. They signed Victor Martinez after basically doubling every other team’s best deal by a long shot. Joaquin Benoit was a good sign, but heavily criticized at first because giving a reliever $16MM for 3 years is a pretty dumb idea.

Memories of Gary Sheffield and Juan Gonzalez float like butterflies in our heads.

I remember watching the NLCS last year and thinking about how nice it would be if Cabrera could have Ryan Braun’s protection in the lineup. Martinez is a nice player to have , but to have two guys in a lineup who could both easily post a .425 OBP year in and year out would be a luxury only big market franchises can benefit from.

And now, it’s real. Prince is a Tiger and it makes so much sense even though it didn’t 12 hours ago.

What does it mean on the field?

Let’s face it (not saying no one was). The Tigers really can’t worry about Defense next year. If they do, Leyland is just going to blow an aneurysm in the dugout by July. Prince is going to play first because he can’t play anywhere else but DH. Miggy has played Left and Third. I’d imagine that outfield is out of the question because they wouldn’t want him running after fly balls in that cavernous place. He was an average third baseman for the Marlins in 2006-2007 and while it’s a concern, I’ve watched him play plenty and I know he’s agile enough to at least handle it.

What does it mean in the lineup?

What doesn’t it do? It probably means the Tigers will steal like 11 bases as a team next year since it’s going to be rare enough when Austin Jackson gets on (.317 OBP!!!!) that there’s no way they can chance him getting thrown out with Cabrera and Fielder in the background.

Before today the Tigers had a concern about depth. Sure, Boesch and Young and Peralta are all nice players but one of them would need to step up and provide a 4 or 5 WAR season to make up for Martinez’s absence. What Fielder does is balance a lineup, not only with a Righty/Lefty flip flop, but it alleviates the pressure that Boesch and Young specifically would feel batting around Cabrera.

And if Cabrera would get hurt? Oh man.

Now they have depth. They have substance. The team that scored 787 runs last year and won 95 games now has a bat that is almost as good as Cabrera’s. Is 800 runs possible? 825? 97 games? 100 even?

But in the end, the ridiculous contract aside (and 9 years and $214MM is flat out crazy) it’s going to be fun to go cross Woodward Avenue and head into Comerica Park to watch Fielder trot out to first base just like his dad did for 6 years.

The questions on if the Tigers will re-sign Cabrera or Verlander are moot right now. In six years is this contract going to look pretty bad? I wouldn’t doubt it, but Prince will also be able to fall back on the DH crutch and that would help alleviate some pain.

In the open market $214MM, or $23.8MM per year mean that Fielder will have to produce 42.8 WAR or an average annual WAR of 4.75. Is it really that ridiculous to see something like this?:

2012 (28) – 6.1

2013 (29) – 8.5

2014 (30) – 6.1

2015 (31) – 6.1

2016 (32) – 5.5

2017 (33) – 4.0

2018 (34) – 2.8

2019 (35) – 2.5

2020 (36) – 1.2

.

He would have to have one really, really great year and three years where he at least matches his highest WAR total that he hit in 2009. If he can produce 32.3 WAR over his first five years, then he would only need to contribute 10.5 over the last four years and that isn’t something I think is TOO ridiculous, at least it is achievable but in all honesty, given his body type (husky!), track record (has yet to get injured and has played six straight full seasons), and reality of baseball in general, he’d have to have a lot of luck on his side to hit that goal of a 42.8 WAR.

But, who cares right now, that’s for the Illitch Kids to moan about in 2017.

  • http://ramblingsofbaseball.wordpress.com Matt Adams

    Love watching Prince hit so it would be hard to complain about him showing up to my ballpark everyday. Giant contract and too many 1B/DH or not. That said, I would worry about those WAR projections coming true.

  • Josh Worn

    Yeah I agree with that.

  • Giants Fan

    “too have two guys in a lineup who could both easily post a .425 OBP year in and year out would be a luxury only big market franchises can benefit from.”

    I don’t think you get to play the “small-market” card as a Detroit fan.

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/articles/baseball_markets.shtml

    You’re not New York, LA or Chicago, but you’re right at the same level as Philly, Boston, SF, etc., 8th (out of 25) overall, and have as big a market as St.Louis + Colorado put together (not that they are shining examples of big-name acquisition, but yeah).

  • Doc Worn

    Probably a superfluous statement especially now that TV deals are shaping the big market clubs.

    I would probably refrain from that paragraph were I to write it again. But you have to understand, at the time I was drunk with joy. ;)

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