Before being punished by the Cubs on Monday night, the Brewers had won 8 of their last 10 games and gave the 13 or so fans still paying attention to the team a little more hope for 2010. Of course, winning streaks like that would have been preferred in July and August when the team held the division lead and/or still had a chance to make a playoff run, but I guess we can say better late than never. Even though the last 12 games are very difficult (Cubs, Phillies, Rockies, Cardinals), Milwaukee has a legit shot to finish at .500 or better. Three years ago, I would have been very happy about that, so it must be a good thing that it’s now considered disappointing.
But that isn’t what’s on the mind of Brewers fans today. The beast they call Prince Fielder is finishing off the finest offensive season in Brewers history. Unfortunately, it very well might be his last. The fun part about being useless in September is that writers will talk about shit like this because the games don’t matter. What do I think? I’m glad you asked.
Before I give you the correct answer, we’ll see what my former colleagues have to say. (Ed. note: Keith Law and Buster Only had 0% knowledge that I worked at ESPN. I couldn’t even sniff the bottom of the totem pole at the Worldwide Leader, let alone meet and befriend the better baseball writers at the network. Just so you know.) Anyways, Keith Law says trade him somewhere. Buster Onley says he’ll be in Boston (Moves, Deals & Decisions #3). I like that Onley freely admits that it’s wild speculation, because anybody who acts like they know the answer the question (myself excluded) is a damn liar.
Here’s what we know about Fielder. His contract pays him $7 million this year and $11 million in 2010. That is all. He will be a free agent at the end of that season. He is hitting .297 as of today (Sept. 22) with 40 home runs and 128 RBI. He has drawn 101 walks and scored 94 runs. His on-base percentage is a stellar .410 and he is slugging .589 – which adds up to a .999 OPS (Wow, that masters in math education is paying off already, and I’ve only been in school for two weeks. Fantastic.). Every statistic I’ve mentioned puts Fielder in the top 5 in the National League, except for runs scored, where he ranks a putrid 6th. The RBIs and walks are Brewers’ single-season records. And oh yeah, he’s only 25 years old.
There are some big money teams that have a need at first base (or designated hitter in the AL) that would kill to have Fielder in their lineup. And since murder is illegal, they will likely resort to paying him a shitload of money at the end of 2010 to draw him away from Milwaukee. From everything I’ve heard, the Prince enjoys Milwaukee, loves his teammates, loves the only organization he’s every played for, and doesn’t necessarily want to leave, but that doesn’t mean he will stay. Even for athletes with more money than they know what to do with, a bigger contract offer means you’re wanted more – and that’s the biggest draw. I can’t hate on anyone who wants to get money and get paid.
Now that you know all that, here is my advice to General Manager Doug Melvin, Owner Mark Attanasio and Prince Fielder. DO NOT TRADE THE BIG GUY! DO NOT! You will blow a hole through the skyrocketing fan base, the clubhouse and the chance at a 2010 return to the playoffs. Of course, if the Giants offer Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, then yes, trade him. Immediately. But since that won’t happen, don’t get taken simply because you’re scared to lose him to free agency a full year from now.
Best case scenario: The Crew holds onto Fielder. They pick up some decent to front-line starters this off-season. They tear it up in 2010 and return to the playoffs. Prince doesn’t want to leave just when the team gets great, so he signs a long-term like Ryan Braun and the Crew cockpunches the NL Central for years to come.
Middle ground: The Crew holds onto Fielder. They continue to think Jeff Suppan, Braden Looper and co. are serviceable pitchers. Out of the race by late July, the Brewers trade Fielder at the July deadline for a bunch of prospects and/or good major leaguers. The rebuilding process begins sans Fielder, but with a hope for the near future.
Shitstorm scenario: The Crew holds onto Fielder. They don’t trade him at the deadline. He doesn’t want to stay in Milwaukee. He leaves via free agency and the Crew gets nothing except a few compensatory draft picks and wistful memories. They continue to be a non-factor. Go Packers.
Keep doing your thing, Prince, and keep doing it in Milwaukee. Please.