Still smarting from being spurned by Cody Ross the Mets received another blow when , Prince Fielder passed on the Mets’ flirtations and instead signed a 9-year deal with Detroit — the city where his father Cecil enjoyed 6 1/2 standout seasons after a stint in Japan.
The good news, however, is that now Ike Davis doesn’t have to worry about re-learning left field, a position he played frequently during his college career.
The Mets were seen as a frontrunner if Prince Fielder limited his marketplace to baseball teams in Flushing. Further, the Mets made clear that Prince would be welcomed with open arms if he were willing to sign on their terms (rumor had it that the Mets’ offer consisted of a one-year, non-guaranteed, $550K contract with the option to go straight to the front of the line at the Shake Shack between innings).
In all seriousness, this surprising signing by the Tigers changes things beyond Detroit. For one, the NL has now lost arguably its top three sluggers over the last year — Fielder, Albert Pujols, and Adrian Gonzalez — in turn collectively lowering the danger quotient of NL hitters. I would be curious to see a stathead figure out if there is any kind of impact on NL pitching performance as a result of these exits — has anyone done this kind of study? For example, will NL pitchers’ WHIPs and ERAs in general go down because they no longer have to deal with these other-worldly sluggers — and, can pitch around the dangerous hitters who remain?
In regard to the latter part of that sentence, here’s an interesting comparison: in 2011, Ryan Braun was intentionally walked TWICE, and has been given a free pass only 9 times in the five years he’s hit behind Prince Fielder. It’s presumed that Fielder will now hit behind Miguel Cabrera, who was intentionally walked 22 times in 2011 and 32 times in 2010. Go ahead — let your head spin considering what Cabrera might do in 2012, with hurlers having to pitch to him.
Random thought: it’s a bizarre winter when two of the top 5 sluggers in all of MLB are free agents, and the biggest of the big markets — New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco — are not in the bidding. OK, there was some noise from the Cubs but was there really any substance to that?
Perhaps the best thing about Prince Fielder going to Detroit is that he didn’t go to another team in the NL East. Though, it depends upon your perspective — as a pure baseball fan, I’ll miss not seeing him play against the Mets and performing like a man among boys.
What’s your thought? Did the Mets mess up their rebuilding plan by not going harder after Prince? Are you happy to see him out of the NL? Does this mean Mike Pelfrey‘s ERA will go down? (Fielder hit .455 with a 1.318 OPS vs. Big Pelf in his career.) Post your reaction in the comments.