Prince Fielder has likely played his last game as a Brewer

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If it ends — and it looks like it has ended — Prince Fielder’s tenure as a Milwaukee Brewer ended with an 0-for-4 night and a weak grounder to second base.

But that will soon be forgotten. For one thing, he had an overall productive 2011 postseason, getting on base and hitting for power. For another, he leaves behind six seasons — and part of a seventh — in Milwaukee that have been nothing short of spectacular: 230 homers, 656 RBI and a line of .282/.390/.540.  He has been a critical part of two Brewers’ playoff teams and stands as one of the more popular men to ever wear the team’s uniform.

But it’s that production and his impending free agency that makes Fielder all but certain to wear a different uniform in 2012.  Even with Albert Pujols on the market and the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out of the bidding for a big first base bat, Fielder’s price tag is likely to approach $200 million. That’s widely accepted to be outside of the realm of the possible for team owner Mark Attanasio. The Brewers are a tremendous business success for a team in as small a market as Milwaukee, but they can’t afford that kind of a deal, especially when they’re already committed to Ryan Braun for $105 million through 2020.

So, barring an uncharacteristic hometown discount for the Scott Boras-represented Fielder, this is the end of the road for him in Wisconsin. I would assume that Brewers fans — a pretty knowledgeable lot — understand that this is business and I’d assume they’ll greet Fielder warmly if and when he returns to Miller Park wearing home grays.