I’ve been critical of the Prince Fielder contract. So have the majority of my counterparts around the baseball blogosphere. It’s a lot of money for a guy who doesn’t fit ideally into that roster and it may cause some issues later, yadda, yadda yadda, etc.
But Tigers fans don’t really care. At least the ones who think like Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys:
I’ll be honest, I think it’s all a bit of lunacy and breathless commentary from an industry that peddles in breathless commentary … Sure the deal is large, but that’s because it’s a nine-year deal and Fielder was the second-best player this offseason. Am I supposed to worry about nine years from now? Really? As economists say, in the long run we’re all dead. I’m going to bet that nine years from now, Fielder is no longer among the highest-paid players. Nine years ago, $13 million a year was a whole lot of money. Now $13 million wouldn’t even crack the top 50 list.
Mensching goes on to note that the Tigers have shown flexibility in the past, the willingness to make trades and the ability to buck the expectations of the smart set. One example: how the team was supposed to crater financially when the economic crisis hit a few years ago, yet have witnessed damn fine attendance and the ability to maintain high payrolls.
I’m not sure I’d be so rosy about it were I a Tigers fan, mostly because a lot of this hinges on unknowns like player health, what happens with guys like Justin Verlander, etc. But Mensching is probably right that a lot of us are worrying a bit too much now about things that might not happen later.
There are a lot of bad long-term deals out there (and Mensching fully admits that the Fielder deal may look pretty bad towards the end). But beyond the Cubs’ many awful deals, it’s not like all of them totally kneecap teams for a long period of time. Such deals can be total drags, but they’re not all complete and utter millstones.
And as Mensching also notes: in the long run, we’re all dead. So that’s cheery too.
In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.
Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.
He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.
Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.
Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.
He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.
Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!
Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.
This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.
If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.