Prince Fielder And The Seattle Mariners: The (Relatively) Unspoken Problem

Prince Fielder playing a drum

This is something that's been on my mind for a few days. Maybe more than a few days. I don't know, I usually don't remember much beyond the "few days" window. Getting birthday cards in the mail is always an eye-opening experience. This is a weird introduction to this post. Cool.

I've been thinking about a particular aspect to Prince Fielder signing with the Mariners for a little while, and just this afternoon I saw that Greg Johns addressed it in his Mariners.com inbox. The polite thing to do would be to just link his inbox and tell you all to read it, but I'm going to write up my own post, even though it isn't going to say anything new. This is how much of an asshole I am. (Sorry, Greg)

I think we and others have said much of what there is to say about Prince Fielder as a potential free agent target. The pro-Fielder party has said its part, and the anti-Fielder party has issued its rebuttal. Fielder is a very terrific hitter who would fill a void in this lineup now and down the road, yes. Fielder will also cost a steamboat of money and could be declining by the time the M's are ready to compete, yes. There are the predictable pros and the predictable cons, and most all of us have a position. I don't think there are Mariners fans who are on the fence. I think every Mariners fan who's aware of the situation either wants the team to try to sign Fielder, or doesn't want the team to try to sign Fielder.

But there's a complication, here. A complication that has gotten some attention, but not nearly enough: why would Prince Fielder want to sign with the Mariners in the first place?

Think about it. Think about how the Mariners look to a guy like Fielder. Not only do they play in a pitcher-friendly park. Not only do they play half their games further away from Fielder's home in Florida than any other team. They are rebuilding. Here is Prince Fielder's probable impression of the 2011 Mariners:

  • Bad

And here is Prince Fielder's probable impression of the 2010 Mariners:

  • Bad

The Mariners are not an attractive organization to free agents. Maybe that's not fair; they're attractive to some. But they're not particularly attractive to Prince Fielder. Prince Fielder wants to put up numbers, and Prince Fielder wants to win, and however much we support the ongoing rebuild, Prince Fielder isn't going to be excited by some young kids and unproven minor league talent. He's going to want to play with some established good hitters, and some established good pitchers.

Which isn't to say that Fielder couldn't be lured. Money has a funny way of making people more open-minded. But money is pretty much the only way that the Mariners could get Fielder and Scott Boras' attention, which means we wouldn't be talking about the Mariners potentially signing Fielder to a market contract. We'd be talking about the Mariners potentially signing Fielder to a mammoth contract. There are going to be good teams bidding for Fielder's services, and the Mariners would probably have to outbid all of them to stand a chance.

We all want Prince Fielder. It would be stupid not to. Prince Fielder is an incredible player. If Prince Fielder cost $1 million, 100% of us would support his signing with the Mariners. But of course, Prince Fielder won't cost $1 million. He'll cost many more millions than that, and as the dollar figure rises, the percentage figure drops. I don't know how much it would cost the Mariners to sign Fielder, but I'm almost certain that, at that amount, I would not be in favor.

Maybe there's something to the whole Fielder/Jack Zduriencik relationship. Maybe. But do you really think Fielder would sign a market-rate contract with the Mariners, or a below-market-rate contract with the Mariners, because he knows the general manager? That's more preposterous than a viscous andesite flow extending more than ten kilometers from its original vent. Preposterous!

It's probably been a waste of time, talking about Prince Fielder so much. I can't imagine that he's going to sign a free agent contract with the Seattle Mariners. There are many reasons for that.

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