Prince Fielder signs a nine-year, $214 million deal with the Tigers

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It’s being reported by multiple sources that Prince Fielder is “very close” to a nine-year, $214 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. Tim Brown of Yahoo! had it first. UPDATE: The Associated Press reports that it’s a done deal.

This is really off-the-wall.  Partially because (a) the Tigers just last week said they weren’t going to go down that road; (b) the Tigers already have an all-world first baseman in Miguel Cabrera and, after this year anyway, a really good DH in Victor Martinez to whom they owe a lot of money through 2014; (c) Prince Fielder doesn’t get along with his dad, and if he goes to Detroit he’s going to get Cecil Fielder questions all the time.

Miguel Cabrera isn’t going to DH. Prince Fielder said he doesn’t want to. I also assume that we are well past the days when Cabrera can play third base. How does this work?

UPDATE: Jon Heyman is reporting that Fielder would be the starting first baseman. That means Cabrera is likely the DH.  No clue what happens when V-Mart is back in 2013.

I suppose that’s Jim Leyland’s problem.  And, at least offensively speaking, it’s not a bad problem to have.  Pairing Fielder up with Cabrera in the middle of that lineup is a huge improvement to what Detroit had going in the wake of Victor Martinez’s ACL injury. And  adding one of the best hitters in baseball to a team that won its division by 15 games last season almost assures them of doing do again.

Doesn’t it?

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.