Fielder-to-Dodgers momentum building?

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
10:20
AM PT
I wrote in October that the Dodgers could and should sign Prince Fielder. More and more people appear to be coming around to the idea, as this post at Hardball Talk indicates. T.J. Simers of the Times also picked up the banner.

Here's an excerpt from my piece, written almost exactly three months ago and before the Angels even signed Albert Pujols.
So guess what. The Dodgers should sign Prince Fielder.

Betcha didn't see that coming.

Here are the reasons:
  • Fielder, who is only 4 1/2 months older than Kemp, might not play until he's 40, but no one's going to give him a 12-year contract. The big first baseman should be good for the next several years easily. For all the concerns about his physical condition, he has averaged 160 games per season since 2006.
  • He is truly awesome, not only supplying mammoth power (that admittedly would decline some playing regularly in Dodger Stadium) but also the mammoth on-base percentage that made Manny Ramirez so valuable during his Los Angeles heyday. Fielder's lifetime OBP is .390, including .381 in road games (.386 in 70 plate appearances at AT&T Park, if that sort of thing interests you). That ability isn't going to go away anytime soon. ...
  • The Dodgers – even the bankrupt Dodgers – can afford him.
That last point is the one I've sort of put out of sight, out of mind, out of a belief that it wasn't even worth thinking about. But then, I started to think about it. The Dodgers could always backload a Fielder contract so that the hefty portion (pun acknowledged but not admired) comes after the post-2013 local TV contract money can be accessed. However, the Dodgers should be able to afford Fielder even if they pay him the proper amount starting next year. ...

Wasting money on a bad signing is one thing, but the idea that signing Fielder to a market-value contract would lower the value of the Dodgers in a sale has always been fiction. Having this bird in the hand gives the new owners a tremendous head start toward rejuvenating the franchise and generating value. If signing good players weren't a value proposition, good teams wouldn't do it.

Payroll is payroll, whether Fielder is on the team or not. It's not as if the post-McCourt Dodgers are going to save money if Fielder isn't on the roster – they're just going to spend it on different players. Getting in the Fielder game now just means the Dodgers would know they're getting a superb player instead of a gaggle of Juan Riveras. You can add Fielder to the team and save the money elsewhere, instead of being penny-wise but pound-foolish.

We went through this Vladimir Guerrero eight years ago. Is there anyone who thinks the Dodgers would have had less value with Guerrero in the fold?

Think about it – you're a prospective Dodger owner. You're bidding more than a billion bucks for the team even with the possibility that the Dodger Stadium parking lot land will cost extra. Are you really going to let the presence of Prince Fielder - on a contract that is spread out years into the future - be what prevents you from buying the franchise? It makes absolutely no sense.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Juan Uribe
BA HR RBI R
.375 2 6 7
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 5
RBIA. Gonzalez 15
RA. Gonzalez 11
OPSJ. Uribe .978
WH. Ryu 3
ERAH. Ryu 1.93
SOH. Ryu 25