By Martin Iheke
Born of a rare type of baseball blood, Prince Fielder’s arrival in Arlington was anything but expected. He’s talented, temperamental, and at times brilliant. Let’s hope he speaks softly and carries a big stick.
In perhaps the biggest move made so far in the young offseason, the Texas Rangers traded long-time second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for first baseman Fielder and $30 million in cash on November 20th. The Rangers made this move because they needed another power bat in the lineup and believe that Jurickson Profar is ready to contribute as an everyday player. It also helps that Fielder is pretty durable as he has been relatively healthy for most of his career while you cannot say that about Kinsler.
Before the 2012 season, Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers. His first season there, he hit .313 with a .412 OBP. However, his numbers were down in 2013 hitting .279 with 25 homers and 106 RBIs and .362 OBP.
Now that Fielder will become a Ranger, the big question is can he help get the Rangers back to the playoffs and lead them to their first World Series title? Also, how would he compare to the newly-acquired players around town? The Mavs added Monta Ellis to help Dirk Nowitzki with scoring and so far that is going well. The Stars traded for center Tyler Seguin to help out captain Jamie Benn who are now forming a pretty deadly tandem.
What kind of impact can Fielder provide now that he will be hitting next to third baseman Adrian Beltre and if the Rangers bring back designated hitter/outfielder Nelson Cruz? I think it will be huge and he would compare greatly with those players around town assuming he produces here. Last season the Rangers struggled for the most part, offensively. Sometimes they had trouble scoring a couple of runs especially when their ace pitcher Yu Darvish was on the mound and threw a gem. It also did not help that Cruz missed 50 games in the regular season because he was suspended for taking steroids.
It is vital that you get offensive production at first base and they were not getting that out of Mitch Moreland. Fielder will fill this need. He will be hitting at the Ballpark in Arlington which plays very favorably to left-handed hitters and Fielder happens to bat left-handed. So it is assumed that his numbers will go back up and help take some pressure off Beltre.
If the Rangers can re-sign Cruz, that will give them three big bats in the lineup. Last season’s acquisition of Alex Rios could also bat fifth or sixth adding some pop and speed. Pitching around Fielder could have some serious repercussions.
Metroplex fans love winners. They love players who can come here and shine when the lights are the brightest that leads to championships. If Fielder can come here and shine helping the Rangers finally win their first title, he will instantly be revered in this town. Legends like Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Mike Modano and Dirk Nowitzki immediately come to mind when it comes to the Metroplex embracing winners. Fielder could be right up there with with them if delivers a championship with his bat.
This town does not care about players putting up great numbers when it does not have any meaning to it. It is when you do it that really counts. I want to see the Rangers win the World Series especially after they came so close two years ago (one strike away twice still hurts).
I hope this move of trading for Fielder helps put them over the top. The starting pitching anchored by Darvish is still strong as well as their bullpen and defensively they look good. General Manager Jon Daniels is now looking to improve the offense and I believe he took a huge step in the right direction with the move to get Fielder. It is time for the practical Prince to shine…