Well, I didn’t see that coming. Neither did anyone else for that matter.
On Thursday, the Detroit Tigers made the signing of mega-free agent Prince Fielder official. First word of the signing began to leak on Tuesday.
Just supposed rumors of the signing sent the baseball world into a frenzy, especially Tigers’ fans.
Fielder is the biggest (no pun intended) free agent ever to be signed by the Tigers. It trumps the signings of Pudge Rodriguez (although that could be debated) and Magglio Ordonez.
This is more proof that Mike Ilitch is as great a baseball owner as he is a hockey owner.
For years — mostly prior to 2006 — it was argued Ilitch only cared for the Red Wings. They were a team with annual success and a team — prior to the salary cap — that spent like the New York Yankees.
I argued that Ilitch was a great baseball owner and probably wanted a World Series championship more than a Stanley Cup. The first few years after Ilitch purchased the team, in the early 90s, the Tigers held the highest payroll in baseball. Their payroll of around $40 million (oh, how times have changed) consisted of the highest paid player with Cecil “Big Daddy” Fielder.
The Tigers spent lots of money with hardly any revenue and no results. It was then the Tigers took a few steps back and completed some of the worst season’s in Tigers and even MLB history.
Ilitch finally brought in a sound baseball mind in Dave Dombrowksi, who in turn fill the front offices with other top baseball minds. Since, it has resulted in great drafts, improved records, a division title, a World Series appearance and a reason to spend money like nobody’s business.
How shocking is this signing? Extremely. When I first heard of the news it felt as if I just downed about 12 Red Bulls. I was a bit excited.
Not one expert expected the Fielder landing spot to be Detroit. But like the signing of Rodriguez, Ilitch wanted it done, so it got done.
Fielder has been on the mind of Ilitch since the team was purchased. Then 8 years old, Fielder soon became know for his playfulness around the stadium and then for hitting homeruns at Tiger stadium before he was a teenager.
In 2002, Milwaukee drafted Fielder with the seventh overall pick. Had he slipped just one more spot the Tigers would have grabbed him with the eighth spot. So it’s been a long time coming for the return of Prince to Detroit.
Even though this signing happened quickly the Tigers prepared themselves for the potential problems.
Miguel Cabrera was consulted and will switch to third. He was going to play third had the Tigers reached the World Series last year.
Brandon Inge — although not happy — will have to deal with it. If not, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Inge dumped or traded.
The lineup will be versatile. It will be explosive.
The defense on the other hand, who knows? We will shortly though. And if not the best, the Tigers are banking on the run production to cover the miscues.
A Tigers game this year could be both exciting and frustrating at the same time. But then again who knows what else the Tigers have planned before spring training begins in a few weeks.
In my column last week I said I didn’t expect the Tigers to sign Prince Fielder. I was wrong. I also said, it would be a nice problem to have.
It is definitely a nice problem to have.