12 Reasons To Love The Kinsler/Fielder Trade

The Texas Rangers made a blockbuster trade on Wednesday night, sending second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for first baseman Prince Fielder.  What’s perhaps most surprising about the fallout from this trade is just how polarizing it has been among Ranger fans.  Based on Twitter observations made in the immediate aftermath of the trade, Ranger fans either totally LOVE the trade or absolutely HATE it, with a significant majority seeming to fall firmly in the latter camp.

If you are among those who hate this trade, here are a dozen reasons you should reconsider your position and join those of us who love it…

1. The gaping hole at first base has finally been plugged.

Mitch Moreland clearly wasn’t the answer, and now the Rangers no longer have to continue attempting that noble – but ultimately failed – experiment.  This ends a long run of unsuccessful attempts to find a permanent first baseman, which included the likes of Moreland, Justin Smoak, and Chris Davis (before he became Zeus in Baltimore).  Fielder is the Rangers’ first legitimate offensive threat at 1B since Mark Teixeira in 2007 (who was subsequently traded for approximately 93.2% of the current Texas roster).

2. The middle infield logjam has finally been unclogged.

Jurickson Profar now gets the opportunity Ranger fans have been clamoring for since he first broke onto the scene (provided he doesn’t get traded between now and Opening Day).  The Profar conundrum has been looming over this franchise for well over a year now, and continuing into 2014 with it still not resolved would be a most untenable situation.  It was absolutely imperative for the Rangers to figure out a way to definitively unclog their middle infield logjam, and this trade has successfully accomplished that.

3. The lineup finally got the left-handed bat it so desperately needs.

Of the Rangers’ three left-handed bats from last season’s regular lineup, one is gone (David Murphy signed with the Cleveland Indians) and another is highly unlikely to return (re-signing free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski does not appear to be a priority for a team with its sights set on Brian McCann).  That leaves Leonys Martin as the only returning left-handed bat, which really emphasizes the need for Fielder in this lineup – especially when considering that the (glorious) departure of (alleged) designated hitter Lance Berkman leaves Profar as the team’s only switch hitter.

4. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is tailor-made for Fielder’s bat

Three words: Home. Run. Porch.  *drops mic*

5. Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios will very likely have monster seasons at the plate in 2014 by sandwiching Fielder in the batting order.

Beltre has been the Rangers’ best offensive player for three years running now, and Rios proved to be an excellent addition to the lineup after joining the team at midseason this year.  But as good as they both were in 2013, imagine how much better each will be by having a fearsome bat like Fielder’s inserted between them.  The middle of the Rangers’ order now has to be considered among the most dangerous in all of baseball.

6. The roster just got younger.

Fielder (29) is a full two years younger than Kinsler (31).  Even if you factor in the guy Fielder is replacing (Moreland, 28) and the guy replacing Kinsler (Profar, 20), the Rangers’ combined age still drops…BY 10 YEARS.  Youth will be served, and will still be on the field longer than those of a more advanced age.

7. The Rangers will no longer be victimized by Kinsler’s terrible baserunning.

No matter how much you love Kinsler as a player, you simply cannot deny what an awful baserunner he has been.  He is almost single-handedly responsible for the existence and proliferation of the “TOOTBLAN” meme (Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop).  In addition to repeatedly being picked off and caught in rundowns year after year, his stolen base total has decreased each of the past three seasons, while his caught stealing total has increased each of those same three seasons.  Fielder is certainly no stolen base threat, and is also not a good baserunner, but Profar almost certainly won’t generate anywhere near as many outs on the basepaths as did Kinsler.

8. The Rangers won’t have to hope for the unlikely success of a forced position change.

If Kinsler stayed here, he almost certainly would be coerced into changing positions in 2014 – provided neither Profar nor Elvis Andrus were traded this offseason.  Like Michael Young before him, Kinsler is a prideful guy (not necessarily a bad thing) who has always been resistant to overtures suggesting he consider a move from his preferred position.  Since Kinsler shares the same agent with Moreland, that would have really made it difficult to execute moving Kinsler to first base.  And as a guy who’s spent his entire baseball career as an infielder, moving to left field would have most likely been an adventure, if not an outright disaster.  A perennial contender like the Rangers simply can’t risk their continued success by gambling on such a risky move as a forced position change, so making this trade allowed them to avoid following through with such an ill-advised attempt.

9. The Rangers did not have to give up a first-round draft pick to get Fielder.

Unlike signing a free agent who already declined his club’s qualifying offer, such as McCann, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Robinson Cano, Kendrys Morales, Carlos Beltran, and so many of the other players the Rangers have rumored to have an interest in, trading for Fielder did not force the Rangers to surrender a highly-coveted first-round draft pick.

10. The Rangers got a giant sack of cash from Detroit to help pay Fielder’s remaining salary.

Yes, Fielder has a contract as hefty as his enormous frame, but the Rangers were able to get the Tigers to throw in $30 million to help offset a decent portion of his remaining salary.  With that offset, according to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, Fielder will cost them $76 million more than Kinsler – and the Rangers will be getting three extra years (Fielder is signed for seven more seasons, Kinsler for four).

11. Fielder isn’t just durable, he’s baseball’s reigning “Iron Man.”

For all those who criticize Fielder’s weight and are convinced his body is on the verge of total collapse, please explain how he’s managed to play in 505 consecutive games without injury.  In fact, if it weren’t for missing ONE GAME with the flu way back on September 13, 2010 (before the Rangers had ever even won their first postseason series), he would have now played in 833 straight games – which would be the ninth longest such streak in major league baseball history.  Kinsler, while not injury-prone, has made three trips to the disabled list since 2010.

12. #PFHR is a much better hashtag than #IKPU

OK, that may be a bit of a low blow, and will no doubt infuriate Kinsler supporters, but it’s hard to do a list like this without having a little fun – especially taking a good-natured jab at Twitter culture, as well as Kinsler’s well-noted tendency to pop-up as a result of his trademark uppercut swing.

So, if these 12 reasons aren’t enough to convince you to love the Kinsler-Fielder trade, you are clearly blinded by your devotion to Ian Kinsler.  And who am I to fault you for that?  After all, I’m the guy who’s maintained blind loyalty to Mitch Moreland for the past three years.  That being said, step aside, Mitch and make room for Prince!

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer and host of the “Diggin’ In” podcast for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or  on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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