Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Transaction Oracle > Discussion
Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tigers - signed Fielder

Detroit Tigers sign 1B Prince Fielder to a 9 year/$214 million contract.

A fascinating signing on so many levels. First of all, a week ago serious people were seriously discussing the possibility that Fielder might end up in Japan, or have to settle for a short term contract—possibly as little as a year. It’s fairly clear that there was an element of luck (color me doubtful that the Tigers were sold on this signing before the Martinez signing), but again Boros gets his man the money and years he was after.

Second, for the next three years there’s going to be a potentially awkward talent clump. Sure, Victor Martinez is out for at least the best part of the year and the Tigers are currently planning on playing Miguel Cabrera at third in any case. I think it’s realistic to expect Cabrera to play third very badly. It’s been a few years since he played there and he wasn’t very good then. Don’t get me wrong, Cabrera and a caddy means that the position is very likely in better hands than it was last year when the Tigers had the choice of decent hitter/bad fielder or good field, no hit. Still, it’s going to be a challenge over the next 3 years to deal with 3 guys who realistically are no great shakes at first base. Harder than it was in the 60s and 70s when stuffing an extra bat at third was common. The size of today’s pitching staffs makes it harder to use players with great flaws (no matter their overall strengths)

Third, 9 years? I can’t pretend to know how well he’ll age, but there are some obvious causes for concern. There’s his sheer size. I have to say I wouldn’t be directly fearful. We’re conditioned to equate fat with being lazy and undisciplined. I see no evidence that this is true in Fielder’s case. He’s been durable and there are good reports of his work ethic. I’d be very worried if he actually had a history of knee problems but he doesn’t. Still, I find it interesting that Greg Luzinski, Kent Hrbek and Boog Powell show up in Prince’s age comp list. None of them aged all that well. But Harmon Killebrew and Babe Ruth most certainly played very well from age 28 to 36. I’m skeptical of the studies done using BMI—they’re using listed weights and are often good for a laugh (go ahead, look up David Wells on baseball-reference) so I’d suggest nothing more than a minor reservation on the size front.

Then there’s the type of talent. Fielder has what’s called old player skills. Most of his value lies in his strike zone judgment and his ability to hit home runs. Many players of this nature simply don’t age well. They’re already optimized and have little room for style adjustments as they age. But again see Killebrew. When all is said and done I see no reason to be really wary on the style front.

Then there’s the simple fact that that better players tend to age well. ZiPS projects another 1503 games for him with an eventual career OPS+ of 133. If that’s the way things work out, I think the Tigers will be slightly disappointed over the life of the contract, but it certainly won’t be any kind of disaster.

Ron J Posted: January 26, 2012 at 06:46 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Related News:

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Something Other Posted: January 27, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4046895)
Dan, have you attached a specific run cost to the Tigers' moving Cabrera off of 1B?
   2. Ron J Posted: January 27, 2012 at 01:43 AM (#4046947)
Dan didn't rate Cabrera at third. He's got Cabrera as a Fr/112 and Fielder as a Fr/91 at first. All things considered I wouldn't expect a big difference between Cabrera and Fielder at first.

At third though. Cabrera hasn't played there since 2008. It was only 14 games and it was ugly.

Thing is that before then he was just somewhere between below average and bad. I think the Tigers overreacted to a really bad stretch by a marginal thirdbaseman a few years back. But he hasn't played there in years and I see no reason to be optimistic about his move back. My WAG is -20 runs at third. It's something I tried to research but I haven't found a lot of cases of a player moved back to a position he was found wanting at and succeeding in sticking there. Generally speaking the team gives up the attempt. But the Tigers are eventually going to have to stick somebody at at position he's really not suited for, and Cabrera at third makes more sense than anything else I can think of (given that Martinez wasn't going to catch much if at all).

If Cabrera can't stick at third then once Martinez is back they'll have to try one of Martinez, Cabrera or Fielder in left. Which has potential entertainment value to the neutrals.
   3. LionoftheSenate (Pirates v A's World Series) Posted: January 27, 2012 at 01:57 AM (#4046954)
Luck? When it happens dozens of times, there is no longer any luck.
   4. Ron J Posted: January 27, 2012 at 02:09 AM (#4046958)
#3 I think betting against Boras is a good way to go broke. If I wasn't clear on that, my bad. I do think there's an element of luck in the specific outcome in that the Tigers appear to have decided to get seriously involved only after Martinez went down.

But there was a better than fair chance that he'd have worked out something -- even if it's not at all obvious to me with whom.
   5. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: January 27, 2012 at 02:40 AM (#4046967)
It sounds like there were a bunch of teams still discussing Fielder, he might not have gotten this offer (which is at least 3/50 more than I thought he'd get) but he'd still have gotten a huge payday. What's interesting to me is how durable Fielder's been in Milwaukee. He plays virtually every single day (career low in a full season for games is 157, he's missed 1 game in the last 3 years). I've never heard any complaints about his work ethic and he doesn't seem any bigger than he was when he got into the league. He's probably a decent bet as any to be worth it over the first 3-5 years of the contract.

edit: Also, he's got wheels! TWO inside the park home runs to his credit!
   6. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: January 27, 2012 at 03:04 AM (#4046973)
If Cabrera can't stick at third then once Martinez is back they'll have to try one of Martinez, Cabrera or Fielder in left. Which has potential entertainment value to the neutrals.
I haven't watched Victor a ton since he left Cleveland, but athleticism was never really his problem defensively. He had good instincts and blocked balls well, he just couldn't throw.

It remains to be seen how he comes back from the injury, but Victor circa 2009 wouldn't have been disastrous in left. He might not have been great, but he certainly wouldn't have been worse than, say, Carlos Lee.
   7. Eugene Freedman Posted: January 27, 2012 at 08:35 AM (#4047013)
He might not have been great, but he certainly wouldn't have been worse than, say, Carlos Lee.


Or more relevantly, Delmon Young?
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 27, 2012 at 08:58 AM (#4047016)
As I have mentioned elsewhere, Prince has to work ridiculously hard to manage his weight. It's pretty common for him to gain a LOT of weight in the offseason and starting about now he goes back to the salt mines so that he shows up to camp at 275 or so with the expectation that come Opening Day he's at 265.

It isn't that Prince doesn't work hard. It's that he is fighting age and genetics. As he ages the ability to relax at ALL vanishes as any man over the age of 30 understands. So instead of gaining a mere 20 or 25 lbs in an offseason Prince might gain 40 if he's not constantly managing his diet.

I don't know if folks realize how AWARE the older player has to be about his conditioning.
   9. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: January 27, 2012 at 09:09 AM (#4047020)
Or more relevantly, Delmon Young?
Heh. Him too.

Yeah, my totally subjective, gut-feeling opinion is that if the knee heals fairly well and they let him spend Spring Training working on it, Martinez would make an entirely adequate LF. I'd rather have Vic in left than Cabrera at third...that's for sure. Between his lack of aptitude for the position to begin with and his recent weight gain, Miggy might make Bobby Bonilla look like Brooks Robinson before it's all said and done.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4047027)
As he ages the ability to relax at ALL vanishes as any man over the age of 30 understands. So instead of gaining a mere 20 or 25 lbs in an offseason Prince might gain 40 if he's not constantly managing his diet.

Yup. I'm 40, and if I go out to dinner twice in the same week, I gain 3 or 4 lbs.
   11. Clint Posted: January 27, 2012 at 09:31 AM (#4047030)
It's something I tried to research but I haven't found a lot of cases of a player moved back to a position he was found wanting at and succeeding in sticking there.


Chipper Jones was almost certainly a better fielder at 3B after his two years off. He was horrible at the start of his career, and turned into a sort-of ok fielder after coming back to the position. But he wasn't moved to 1B either.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2012 at 09:36 AM (#4047033)
Cabrera as a Fr/112 and Fielder as a Fr/91 at first

What a Fr 1B likely to translate to at 3B?

Certainly Pr at best. More likely, unrated.

They're going to just have to suck it up and DH one of these guys. Who's the great bat they want to save the DH spot for anyway?
   13. Ron J Posted: January 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4047044)
#12 They're preparing for life with Victor Martinez in the mix. Presumably hoping he can make a late season comeback -- which rates to be eased if he can DH.

While it certainly makes short term sense to DH one of them, it does make a great deal of sense to find out early if you can live with Cabrera at third -- and how you're actually going to manage in the late innings of close games. If you're going to carry a caddy (like the Reds did for Tony Perez for instance) that has to impact team construction.

I have a sneaking suspicion that one way they'll try and manage egos is by pinch-running for either Fielder or Cabrera (assuming they get the chance) in late innings of close games.

   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 27, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4047045)

#3 I think betting against Boras is a good way to go broke. If I wasn't clear on that, my bad. I do think there's an element of luck in the specific outcome in that the Tigers appear to have decided to get seriously involved only after Martinez went down.

But there was a better than fair chance that he'd have worked out something -- even if it's not at all obvious to me with whom.


Agree. The short-term deal talk was just absurd. He was going to get paid. I wouldn't have predicted this much, but he was going to get paid a substantial amount. Just because we don't hear about reports of teams being interested doesn't mean they aren't. And if the price gets down to a certain number, more teams will suddenly be interested - even if they already have a first baseman. Like I said before, you make room for premium players.
   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 27, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4047157)
Harmon Killebrew was a stocky guy, but nowhere near Fielder in that regard, right?

Here's a picture of Killebrew in 1975, as a Royal at age 39. I don't think he ever weighed more than 225 or so, did he?

I mean, I wouldn't be shocked to see Fielder follow Killebrew's career progression (which would work out very well for the Tigers), but I think it would be on the most optimistic end of a reasonable projection.
   16. Ron J Posted: January 27, 2012 at 11:48 AM (#4047182)
#15 I felt a tad uneasy in invoking Killebrew. Still, Bouton does call him the fat kid in Ball Four. And it's pretty clear that he was carrying a fair amount of extra weight by 1969.

Precisely what his real weight was, dunno. As I recall it, it was territory you just didn't go. A nice guy and a very popular player whose weight was a sensitive spot.

And yes, Killebrew is the optimistic end. As noted, ZiPS is somewhat more pessimistic. And any 9 year contract has a chance to end in tears. Fielder's got two minor issues against and on the single most important factor on how well a player ages, well he's not a great player (by the strictest definition that is. I mean he's not on the path to be an all-time great.), but he is an awfully good hitter who can continue to play (as a DH) even if he loses all of his defensive value. And the fact that he can be moved to DH may protect him from some injury concerns going forward.

EDIT: (hopefully) for clarity
   17. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 27, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4047190)
Save me googling - who on earth floated the idea that Fielder might play in Japan in 2012? (so I know to ignore them going forward.)
   18. Loren F. Posted: January 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4047209)
Post deleted due to redundancy.
   19. Ron J Posted: January 27, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4047218)
#17 Honestly can't say. I recall reading about it, but then I read a fair amount. Authors didn't make any kind of impression (beyond one with an implicit hope of a Boras failure). I also know two people who follow trade rumors semi-obsessively both brought the topic up.

Poking at Google might be tricky. An awful lot of Prince stories link in Cecil and those often mention his time in Japan. And then there's the fact that Fielder was touring Japan.

EDIT: clarity again
   20. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 27, 2012 at 05:31 PM (#4047665)
#15 I felt a tad uneasy in invoking Killebrew. Still, Bouton does call him the fat kid in Ball Four. And it's pretty clear that he was carrying a fair amount of extra weight by 1969.

Live action shot of Killebrew in '69. Another one. And another. Here he is a few years later.

He was listed either as 5'11 or 6'0, and I haven't seen a weight listed higher than 215. I can see something of a pear shape in those photos, and my recollection of him is that he was built like a fire hydrant. But despite Bouton's comment, I don't see any comparison to Fielder, who is the same height and listed at 275.
   21. LionoftheSenate (Pirates v A's World Series) Posted: January 27, 2012 at 07:18 PM (#4047796)
If the Tigers didn't bid on Prince it's clear there were other teams involved. I would think the winning bid would naturally be lower than 9/214. That's the nature of bidding, when you remove the top bid. But the 2nd bid is usually not much lower.

It's possible Prince would have been 7/180, as the low without Detroit. But even if 7/180 popped up, I don't think anyone that predicted a puny contract would have been vindicated, in fact they would have been just as wrong.
   22. smileyy Posted: January 27, 2012 at 07:27 PM (#4047803)
Late Killebrew kind of has the same size gut I have and I'm 6'1", 230lbs. I'm sure he has more arm and leg muscle that I do. I'd say 225 would be generous.

Then again, maybe I'm flattering myself by denying the actual extend of my obesity.
   23. Squash Posted: January 27, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4047833)
The short-term deal talk was just absurd. He was going to get paid. I wouldn't have predicted this much, but he was going to get paid a substantial amount.

I was one of the people spouting about how he was going to get big money and everyone who hoped/thought he'd get shut out was insane, but I was thinking something like $150 or $160. 9/214 is definitely higher than I thought it would go.
   24. Something Other Posted: January 27, 2012 at 09:56 PM (#4047880)
The short-term deal talk was just absurd. He was going to get paid. I wouldn't have predicted this much, but he was going to get paid a substantial amount.
After you're done high-fiving the mirror, do you imagine you could find a couple of actual quotes on this site from people who were sure Fielder wouldn't get a long deal? It was all that he shouldn't get a long deal. Why is that so hard to grasp?

What's interesting to me is how durable Fielder's been in Milwaukee. He plays virtually every single day (career low in a full season for games is 157, he's missed 1 game in the last 3 years). I've never heard any complaints about his work ethic and he doesn't seem any bigger than he was when he got into the league. He's probably a decent bet as any to be worth it over the first 3-5 years of the contract.
I don't think anyone disagrees with this. If he had signed for 5/120 I doubt anyone was going to suggest the Tigers weren't going to get their money's worth, or close to it [cue some lunatic: "How can you think he'd sign for 5/120?!?!??]

And yes, Killebrew is the optimistic end. As noted, ZiPS is somewhat more pessimistic. And any 9 year contract has a chance to end in tears. Fielder's got two minor issues against and on the single most important factor on how well a player ages, well he's not a great player (by the strictest definition that is. I mean he's not on the path to be an all-time great.), but he is an awfully good hitter who can continue to play (as a DH) even if he loses all of his defensive value. And the fact that he can be moved to DH may protect him from some injury concerns going forward.
A problem with this is that teams tend to wait too long to do this. (See A-Rod). It also does limit a team some in how it constructs its roster. I think the actual cost, given the Tigers' roster, is more like 9/260. Just a crazy signing.
   25. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 28, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4048139)
Kid, I've been from one end of this galaxy to the other, seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Boras controlling everything.
   26. jayjay Posted: January 29, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4048816)
First of all, a week ago serious people were seriously discussing the possibility that Fielder might end up in Japan
Seriously? No.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Tuque
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Syndicate

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.6853 seconds
47 querie(s) executed