Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Do the Jays Need a Prince?

On the question of whether the Jays should approach Prince Fielder, crucial questions relate to how one feels about our 1B/DH situation, on the price and years, and on the timeline to competition.

I won't go into each of these in detail, but I have noticed a few comparisons between Vernon Wells and Fielder at this same point in their careers; comparisons that note almost identical WAR numbers at this age, pre-big contract.  These comparisons always end with the implication that we should not go after Fielder.

I am not necessarily disagreeing, BUT this Wells/Fielder comparison raises the question of to what degree that is fair.

One key difference between the two is that Fielder takes walks whereas Wells strikes out and pops up/grounds out on pitches out of the zone at a high clip.  Batters with solid plate discipline tend to age better than their free-swinging counterparts (as do 1B over CF).  Admittedly, Wells acquired some of that WAR by playing CF, a more demanding and difficult position than Fielder's first base, but we have a center fielder and we need a big bat.

Does that inherently make Fielder the guy?  Well, not necessarily, but we are told big guys break down younger, though solid plate approaches might stave that off and, I wonder, have the makers of that argument forgotten about the Big Hurt's of the world who aged fine despite their frames?  My pount here isn't that he will or won't break down, but rather that injuries cannot be predicted with any accuracy, and though results can't either the estimates are often more reliable.

Sure, it must be considered and Fielder MIGHT break down a few years before the norm, but if signed to an under-exorbitant 5-6 year deal it might be fine even so.

Why?  The market for free agents (see Pujols) makes it such that teams must pay extra for later contract years in order to acquire the services during the stronger years.  I don't think it's right, but neither do I think it will  either 1) 'tie our hands' or 2) matter if it does.

That is, 1) is a controllable 28 year old superstar on a 5-6 year deal that involves giving up none of our youth core constraining on the team's well-built future?  No.

2) Here's another question: if he helped (by hitting ahead of Joey Bats) to bring us to the playoffs or, even, hypothetically to the World Series Championships once, twice, a few times... is it not worth the associated cost deferred until later even if any hindrance to the corporate owner should arise?

I am not saying we should sign him unless the final price is viable to the terms of Rogers' budget (and it should be!) but many of the arguments against his signing seem premised on unsupported assumptions and the very logic of perpetuated mediocrity.  As per my post on Santos, though, this trade benefits from a prompter playoff push and, if we are going to go for it, AA needs to do something and a few stars must rise from somewhere!

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