I haven't written about Prince Fielder in a little while, so I'm going to write about Prince Fielder. I'm not going to write about George Sherrill, because Matthew already got that. I'm not going to write about Michael Cuddyer, because he already signed somewhere else. I'm not going to write about Yu Darvish, because right now no one knows anything. I'm going to write about Prince Fielder. Which means you're going to think about Prince Fielder! But you were already thinking about Prince Fielder, which is one of the reasons why I'm writing about Prince Fielder. (Prince Fielder)
Instead of a normal post in paragraph form, in this post I will answer questions. They are questions that I am asking myself because that's a hell of a lot easier than asking the audience to submit questions and then going through them one by one. This also helps to preserve the status boundary between you guys and me. You guys wish you were me.
We will begin with the basics and go from there. Note that by "we" I mean "I".
Is Prince Fielder a good baseball player?
He sure is! He has been a very good hitter who has been about as productive as some other very good hitters. He has not been so good at any of the other things that a baseball player has to do, but his very good hitting has offset all that and then some.
Is Prince Fielder a superstar?
I can't really answer that because I don't know what the working definition of "superstar" is. Dictionary.com defines "superstar" as "a person, as a performer or athlete, who enjoys wide recognition, is esteemed for exceptional talent, and is eagerly sought after for his or her services." Under this definition, Prince Fielder is a superstar, but under this definition Willie Bloomquist is also a superstar. Prince Fielder is definitely more of a superstar than Willie Bloomquist, though.
Is Prince Fielder available?
He sure is! Prince Fielder, right now, is a free agent! Anybody could sign him! At least, I've been led to believe that Prince Fielder is a free agent. I guess I've never seen the paperwork for myself, and it's possible that Fielder never filed, or that he did file and then signed without telling anyone. But Prince Fielder is probably a free agent. It would be very weird if he were not.
Are the Mariners interested in pursuing Prince Fielder?
They are, or at least they are believed to be. There is no good reason why they would not be interested.
Are there other teams interested in pursuing Prince Fielder?
There are, which is good, because if there were not, I would be concerned.
Who are those other teams, and which are the most serious?
This is when it gets hard or impossible to know what's going on. We've seen a number of teams linked to Fielder, including the Mariners, , , , , , , and more. Some people say that the Cubs are the favorites. Some people say that the Cubs aren't that interested. Some people say that the Rangers don't have enough money. Some people say that the Rangers have enough money. Some people say that the Blue Jays are more interested in pitching. Some people say that the Blue Jays are not more interested in pitching. We don't know. We hear rumors, but these rumors have giant error bars, and sometimes these rumors cancel each other out. What we can say with absolute certainty is that Fielder will not simply fall into the Mariners' lap. He is highly desirable and available to everybody.
Does Fielder want a long contract?
Would Fielder sign a shorter contract?
Is Fielder going to get a big contract?
Yes, especially relative to yours.
Do the Mariners have an edge because Jack Zduriencik drafted Fielder with the
The more I think about this theory, the more absurd I think it is. Let's say that Zduriencik and Fielder have a good relationship. Let's just say. So what? When do you ever hear about a player being buddy-buddy with his team's GM? Jack Zduriencik is not a coach. His interactions with the roster are infrequent. As for the other side of this, which might suggest that Zduriencik knows more about Fielder than other executives, I can't imagine that's true to any meaningful degree. I don't think the Zduriencik-Fielder relationship is absolutely, completely, 100% negligible, but it's probably so close to being irrelevant that it might as well be irrelevant.
Would Fielder consider signing with Seattle?
Yes, of course he would.
Could the Mariners afford to sign Fielder?
Yes. The Mariners are not such a low-budget team that they couldn't afford a salary like Fielder's, and while fitting him into the 2012 picture could be a little complicated, the team could always trade Jason Vargas, trade Brandon League, or increase payroll. It is not impossible.
Should the Mariners be willing to take on the expected commitment?
That's the whole issue, isn't it? And it's a hard thing to answer, because we can't predict some of the variables. I think the most outspoken people on either side are probably Dave Cameron and Geoff Baker. It seems like Cameron and Baker have been arguing against each other. But the core of Cameron's argument is that Fielder doesn't make great sense for the Mariners at their current payroll level, while the core of Baker's argument is that the Mariners should increase payroll and sign Fielder. They're different things. We need to know about the owners' willingness to invest more money in the team, and, of course, we need to know what kind of contract it would take to bring Fielder in. This could go either way.
Is Fielder a vegan?
Is Fielder a vegetarian?
Does that matter?
Only if you are very much for or against vegetarianism, and even then, no, shut up, you're annoying.
How long is Fielder going to remain productive?
Who the hell knows? Okay, so he's 27. Apply the standard aging curve and he'll be great for another few years before beginning his decline. On the other hand, his genetic father was already declining around now, and on the other hand, was awesome through 40. There are odds, but it's always tricky applying odds to individual people. We know that there will exist some point at which Prince Fielder ceases to be a great Major League Baseball player but we do not and cannot know where that point will be.
Could Fielder's contract cripple the Mariners down the road?
If you take "cripple" to mean "impair", then yes, it could. If you take "cripple" to mean "severely impair or disable," then no, it couldn't, unless the Mariners sign Fielder and then reduce payroll to a level just above Fielder's salary. The ' Opening Day payroll in 2010 was right around where the Mariners' last few Opening Day payrolls have been. That Giants team paid $18.5 million to Barry Zito and won the World Series. It also paid $23.6 million to Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria. Big contracts can hurt if they bust, but people exaggerate.
Are the Mariners boned if they don't sign Fielder?
No. There is a lot of young talent in the organization, Fielder isn't the only guy out there, and missing out on Fielder would leave that money for other uses.
Do the Mariners need to respond to the
No. "Need" is hyperbolic in the same way that "cripple" is hyperbolic.
Do the Mariners need to make a huge splash to improve dwindling attendance?
No. It's no secret that the Mariners' attendance numbers have been dropping, which is bad. It's also no secret that the Mariners have been bad. A big splash would generate interest, but it would be only short-term interest. What the Mariners need to do to improve dwindling attendance is win. If they determine that a big splash would help them do that and sustain that, great. If they do not, great. If and when the team wins, the fans will be there. Winning always needs to be the goal.
Would Prince Fielder as a Mariner be awesome?
Is Prince Fielder the answer?
Not to this question!