The Dodgers and the dream that is Prince Fielder
I don’t mean in an ideal world, where they have a committed owner with the means to make his signing happen. I mean in this world, with an owner who’s taken the team into bankruptcy and is scheduled to auction it off in the next few months.
The easy thing is to scream, sign him! Act like a real big-league ballclub located in the second-largest market in the country. If necessary, back-load his contract from here until the next millennium, just stick his 35-homer swing behind Matt Kemp.
He would become an immediate impact bat, you know, the kind the Dodgers said they wanted to add going into the off-season. Instead, their roster is complete without one and it’s apparently not coming.
"I don’t see it," said General Manager Ned Colletti, careful not to mention Fielder by name. "Not at the moment.
"Our payroll is what it is."
Which looks like it could be close to $20 million less than last season. But should Frank McCourt still make a late run? CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman lists seven clubs supposedly in on Fielder to some degree, and none of them are the Dodgers, though he does add a mystery team out of recognition that his agent is Scott Boras.
The rationale behind the Dodgers making a run is pretty simple. They are a better and more attractive club for the would-be owners to bid on than they are without him, and if Fielder would go for one of McCourt’s back-loaded specials, the financial impact would not be immediate. If the Dodgers win, team revenue would clearly rise. Plus, McCourt gets credit for a going-away present to embittered fans.
And that kind of money, at those years, should make any team hesitate, even the ones not in bankruptcy.
Fielder doesn’t turn 28 until May, so he’s almost four years younger than Pujols. But he’s also a more limited player. He is considered subpar defensively, and a lot less than that running the bases. He is a big boy. He’s listed at 5-11 and 275.
How long can he play carrying around that kind of weight? Though he’s never been on the disabled list, injury remains a concern. He’s only going to get slower with age, potentially clogging up the bases.
A lot can be forgiven if you’re knocking 40 homers a year out of the ballpark, but a 10-year commitment at that kind of money could place significant future payroll decisions in jeopardy. It should also be noted that his home-run hitting father, Cecil Fielder (6-3, 280), retired at age 34.
If he starts looking at a five-year deal, which is still possible, things change. For now, probably wiser to pass. Things around the Dodgers, however, do tend to change.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Prince Fielder. Credit: Jeff Roberson / Associated Press