Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder falters for flailing Tigers

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While Saturday’s shutout loss was definitely a team effort, Prince Fielder’s struggles are a central reason the Tigers are now just one defeat away from losing the World Series.

Swinging at pitches off the plate, Fielder went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Game 3. He grounded into a double play his first time up. Overall, Fielder is 1-for-10 in the World Series, and he’s down to .188 with just one extra-base hits and three RBI in 48 at-bats for the postseason.

This isn’t Fielder’s first go at the postseason, so it shouldn’t be a case of the pressure getting to him. He had three homers and four doubles in 11 games as the Brewers won the NLDS and lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS last year. He also took part in the NLDS in 2008, though he had just one hit in 14 at-bats then (it was a homer).

Still, this is Fielder’s first World Series, and he has been unusually anxious at the plate. He’s seen just 30 pitches in his 11 plate appearances. It’s not like him at all.

That’s not to put it all on Fielder. Miguel Cabrera hasn’t done much, collecting two singles and two walks in three games. The Tigers have just three extra-base hits in the series, and their lone homer was Jhonny Peralta’s meaningless two-run shot in the ninth inning of Game 1, reducing the Giants’ lead from seven runs to five.

Having amassed 18 consecutive scoreless innings, the Tigers offense has wasted fine performances from Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez the last two games. The team should get another good one from Max Scherzer on Sunday, but with ace Matt Cain on the mound for the Giants, one wonders if it will make any real difference.

Padres sign Trevor Cahill

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Trevor Cahill (53) during the seventh inning of Game 3 in baseball's National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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The Padres have signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.

As recently as the middle of the 2015 season it looked like Cahill’s career would meet a premature end, but after being released by the Braves and signing with the Cubs in August of that season he has been a remarkably effective reliever. He has posted a 2.61 ERA in 61 games in Chicago and has posted a strikeout rate far above his career norms.

He’s not someone you necessarily want taking the hill when the leverage is high, but in San Diego the leverage won’t be all that high all that often.

Justin Verlander: “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process”

DETROIT, MI - JULY 20: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the eighth inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on July 20, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Tigers have sent some mixed signals this winter. The offseason began with widespread reports that GM Al Avila was going to break up the team. Indeed, it was reported that he was willing to field offers for any and all players, on up to Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.

As the offseason has unfolded, however, a rebuild has not materialized.

Avila traded away outfielder Cameron Maybin. He signed old friends Omar Infante and Alex Avila. He made the usual sorts of minor league signings every team makes to fill out the roster. Detroit still needs a center fielder and there continue to be rumors that outfielder J.D. Martinez and second baseman Ian Kinsler could be had for the right price, but it’s been pretty quiet at 2100 Woodward Avenue.

If that changes, however, and the Tigers do start to rebuild, there’s one key member of the team who doesn’t really want a part of it. From the Detroit Free Press:

Justin Verlander is 33 years and 330 days old.

He’s not that old.

But the Detroit Tigers ace right-hander – a 12-year major league veteran – is old enough in baseball years to know that he doesn’t really want to be part of a rebuilding process.

“Would it have been upsetting for me if we started trading away everybody?” he told MLB Network Radio on Friday morning. “I’m too old to be part of a rebuilding process.”

Verlander will make $28 million a year for each of the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top 5 of the 2019 Cy Young vote. He had an excellent return-to-form in 2016, but his contract is still pretty big for a pitcher with his mileage, making it seem unlikely that he would be moved absent the team eating a huge portion of his salary. The same could be said for Miguel Cabrera who, despite still being one of the best hitters in baseball, is making between $28-32 million between now and 2023. A wonderful player, but an extraordinarily difficult contract to move. Both superstars have full no-trade protection as 10-5 men as well.

At the moment the rebuild does not seem to be materializing and the Tigers — as I think they should, probably — will enter 2017 aiming for the AL Central crown, not aiming at restocking their farm system.

But what will Verlander think, however, if the Tigers find themselves out of contention come May? What will he think if Ian Kinsler — a valuable player on a tradable contract — is sold off? Or Justin Upton? Or J.D. Martinez?

It’s worth watching.