By: Tim Grzecki
Wednesday night Dave Dombrowski pulled off one hell of a trade. Unloading Prince Fielder’s enormous contract and saving the Tigers $76 million was something most of us deemed impossible, except for the fans that wanted Prince gone no matter what. Now those very fans are basking in the joy of their victory. The latest target of their unrivaled hate has been taken out. The problem is, however, that’s as far as those fans have thought this out; when in reality this trade has caused more questions than it has answered. For example…
Unloading Fielder causes more holes in the lineup than the Tigers had with him. At the end of the season the team needed a second baseman, a left fielder, a closer and bullpen arms. Now that Fielder is gone and Ian Kinsler is here you can cross off second baseman, but add first baseman, left handed hitter and power hitter. Who is going to fill these new holes? More questions.
“Well Cabrera is going to go back to first,” say most people who follow the team. Ok, so now cross off first baseman and add third baseman; that is if Cabrera is even willing to go back to first. He worked very hard to get back into the shape needed to play at third, and seemed to be very happy at his original position. Don’t forget he hasn’t played first in two years; it’s going to take time for him to get back to playing that position at the level needed for this team. Will preparing for a position that requires more stretching have a negative effect on his rehab? Oh and remember what kind of shape he was in when he played first base? Who’s to say he doesn’t put twenty pounds back on? How will that affect his fielding? His hitting?
Speaking of his hitting, Cabrera has won back-to-back MVPs hitting in front of Fielder. And one could make an argument that he would have won his second straight triple crown this year as well had he not been injured. How is taking that big hit threat out from behind him going to affect his numbers? More questions.
“Castellanos is going to finally come to the team full time and he’ll get to play third,” is the fan answer to third base. Sounds like a good plan at first, but again there are questions. You have to remember that just like Cabrera hasn’t played first in two years, the Tigers have spent the last two years grooming Castellanos to be an outfielder, not playing him at third. Can he move right back into the position? Will his hitting success follow him to the major leagues? More questions.
People tend to forget that despite his playoff performances, Prince Fielder contributed a lot to the Tigers. The team made it to two straight ALCS’ with him. He protected Miguel Cabrera in the lineup. He knocked in over a hundred RBIs in both seasons hitting behind a guy who not only lead the majors in RBIs, but can’t score from first base. Did he do well in the playoffs? No. But he did help the team get there. Was his contract over the top? Yes. But why does everyone forget that there is no salary cap in baseball? And Mike Ilitch has proven time and time again with both the Tigers and the Red Wings that he is always willing to write the big check? Which brings us to the final question this trade arises…will the Tigers be better without him?