DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 26:  (L-R) Agent Scott B...

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The baseball off-season nearly passed before its prized free agent, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, found a new home. We were hearing Nationals, Dodgers, even the Rangers, but the 27-year old Fielder shocked the baseball world and came home to where his father Cecil had once shined in the early 1990s.  Prince Fielder is now a Detroit Tiger… just like his daddy!  It’s like a “dream come true”!

His big daddy blasted 219 home runs and knocked in 678 runs in his very memorable six years with the Tigers, but he wasn’t as large as you might have thought (a svelte 230lbs. over a 6’-3” frame compared to Prince’s surprising 275lbs. overloaded on a 5’-11” fire hydrant-type body). How many more MLB seasons will he be able to endure the rigors and consistently produce? Funny though, just weeks earlier Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski had remarked that “the fit really is not there”, whenever Prince Fielder’s name popped up.

It took the savvy negotiating skills of Scott Boras going all the way to the top, and convincing owner Mike Ilitch to agree on the 9-year, $214M deal. At 82, the Little Caesar’s Pizza founder/owner desperately wants a championship right NOW for his Tigers to go along with the four Stanley Cups his other Detroit team has won…… so Boras knew exactly which buttons to push.

As great as this deal appears to be, the Tigers will be paying THREE guys, who should all be DH-ing, an inconceivable $168M over the next three years. That’s OK, Ilitch’s worth over $1.7B according to Forbes Magazine, so his pocketbook can handle it. Unfortunately, Victor Martinez is out for the season with a torn ACL is in his left knee, and last year’s AL batting champ, Miguel Cabrera has said he’s fine with manager Jim Leyland’s decision to move him over to third.

Yeah right, that’s like Hanley Ramirez saying he was fine moving from shortstop to make way for the Marlins higher-salaried acquisition of Jose Reyes. Cabrera, like Ramirez, is very talented but extremely self-centered with plenty of off-the-field problems. Remember too, Cabrera hasn’t played third for over three years (and it was a bust back then because that’s why he’s on first now!), and he will definitely have to lose about 30 lbs. and get in much better shape before moving over to the hot corner.

Last heard begging a Florida Highway Patrol officer (as he was taking a swig of whisky right in front of him) to “please kill me” as he was being pulled over for DUI last spring, I don’t see Cabrera doing his part to make it all fit into place. What about Brandon Inge, the popular Tigers regular third baseman, how will he feel about all this? He has to be seriously questioning his future in a Tigers uniform.

It should be interesting to watch it all unfold in about three weeks over in Lakeland, FL when spring training gets underway. Leyland’s no-nonsense, chain-smoking style will be put to the test (recall his regular outbursts with Barry Bonds while he was the Pirates’ skipper), and Dombrowski’s job will be on the line as well. Let me do my small part for the Tigers….make that a large, with double-cheese and pepperoni.  And, serve that up with a bunch of Prince Fielder!

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Filed under: Pro Baseball

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