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.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.