Yesterday Is Gone
Prince Fielder would not have made one bit of difference in last year’s World Series.
Fielder, 27, hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs last season with the Brewers-gaudy numbers for sure. In Rangers Ballpark and with the opportunity to DH, it’s likely that those numbers would have even gone up a tick or two.
However, a power-hitting free agent first baseman is not what would have put the Rangers over the top.
Let’s consider some things-
Amazingly, the Texas Rangers, the same baseball team that once featured a logo that had a baseball under a cowboy hat, are now perennial World Series contenders. With that in mind, Jon Daniels and crew must do things to keep the Rangers in that position. While the pockets are deeper with a new ownership group, there is a bottom. Spending money needlessly is how people, and in this case, baseball teams go broke and become uncompetitive. Just because the Rangers can afford the hot free agent doesn’t mean that they should sign them. It’s like buying a new car just because you get a raise- halfway into the note, you’re broke again and the car is just another beater like everybody else has.
The Rangers’ core of players that include Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, and Derek Holland, among others have all been together through two very deep post-season runs. Their performances dictate that they will be paid handsomely in the relatively near future, and the Rangers will have to pony up the money to keep those guys. Signing Fielder to the 9 year/$214 million contract he got would prohibit that to a large degree. At the $24 million annually that Fielder will be getting, the Rangers could sign Kinsler, Andrus, Feliz, and Holland. With those four, they have all-star caliber players at vital positions on the team, and the Rangers get four players for the price of one. After them, it will be another group of players every year. Organically built teams last longer and are cheaper. The secret is having the right guy plant the seeds and harvest the crop.
This brings me to first base. While having a bopper at first base is a nice luxury, it is not something vital for this team. No matter who it would be, they are just another bat in the Ranger lineup. While the player needs to be sure handed, this is the least important defensive position on the field athletically. First base is a place where you hide slower players or ones who need a day off from playing catcher or third base. It simply doesn’t make sense to tie up a large amount of money and years at this position on this team.
The Rangers lineup is well chronicled. Adding Prince Fielder isn’t adding a missing piece, but is instead one too many broad strokes on a beautiful painting. The addition of Yu Darvish was this team’s final big piece, and all that’s necessary now is touch up work.
If the Rangers can get a left-handed bullpen arm and a utility infielder, the club is complete. Not every guy has to be a rock star. The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants proved that to us in each of the last two seasons. What it comes down to is execution. Home runs in May don’t win games in October – clutch performances by whoever the ball is aimed at does.
Folks, 2011 is gone. It’s never coming back. Desperately reaching for Fielder at those years and that money is an admission of denial. You can’t buy championships, and good things take time. Over spending on Fielder today would not wipe away the tears from yesterday.