With the news that the Tigers have signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year deal, he'll take his talents to his daddy's former stomping grounds and many around baseball are truly stunned. Afterall, the Washington Nationals had him all but signed, sealed and delivered. I've got to believe Adam LaRoche is pretty fired up right now.
When this deal becomes official, the middle of the Tigers lineup will be imposing to say the least. Even without Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Fielder and Brennan Boesch will hit a few homers and drive in some runs. Where Fielder fits in the lineup apparently is not much of a question either. Early indications are that he will play first base, while Cabrera slides to third. Cabrera came up as a third baseman and played the position briefly with the Tigers in 2008, appearing in 14 games at the hot corner before moving to first base.
However, Cabrera hasn't played third base on a full time basis since 2007 as a member of the Florida Marlins. Can he play the position again? Judging by the way he has played first base the past couple of seasons, I would tend to think so. In my opinion, he has shown good hands and good athletic ability.
The Tigers also must feel that he can play there as well. After all, they were working Cabrera at third during the ALCS last season as a solution to keep his bat and that of Victor Martinez in the lineup had they advanced to the World Series. It also appears that Cabrera is in terrific shape. He looked lean and mean during the Tigers caravan last week in Detroit.
Fielder meanwhile will bring a workmanlike attitude to a hard working city. I have spoken with two announcers that have broadcasted Prince's games, former Brewers announcer Daron Sutton and current Brew Crew voice Brian Anderson. Both described Prince as a hard worker who comes to play every single day. Anderson in fact noted that he has never seen Fielder fail to run out a routine ground ball in the five years he has covered him. He plays hard and he plays every day. Literally. Fielder has played in no fewer that 161 in each of the last three years and has been as durable as anyone in his big league career. That should ease concerns that some may have about Prince's weight.
If you delve into his numbers, you see a guy that is truly an offensive force. A bat that will provide over 100 RBI, 30-40 home runs and an on-base percentage over .400. As an American League club, the Tigers would also have the option of DH'ing him in the last few years of the nine-year deal if needed.
The landscape has changed in the AL Central with this signing, but as 2008 proved, there are no sure things. This much is true though, Cabrera-Fielder is truly stunning.