Tag:AL Central
Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:37 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 12:35 pm
 

Fielder's contract has limited no-trade clause

Prince FielderBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Prince Fielder's new contract with the Tigers doesn't include a full no-trade clause, just a limited one, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reports. However, it may bee a moot point, as the $214 million acts as a pretty hefty deterrent for a team to take on Fielder in a trade.

The newest Tigers will also get 5-10 rights after the 2016 season, meaning he can veto any trade once he has five years with the same team and 10 years of service time in the majors. With the money owed Fielder, it's unlikely a team would take on the back part of his contract with more than the four years remaining (at $24 million each) that will exist before his 5-10 rights kick in.

Fielder's contract is nowhere near as backloaded as Albert Pujols' with Anaheim. Fielder will make $23 million in each of the next two seasons and $24 million in each of the final seven years of the contract.

So, in the end, this is all semantics and something to discuss while we wait for spring training to start.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:08 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:50 pm
 

'Mystery Team' goes from joke to major player

Mystery Team

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Once again, the Mystery Team got its man, as Prince Fielder is headed to Detroit -- not Washington or Texas.

Last November, the idea of a "Mystery Team" was a joke -- a meme making fun of writers who dared to suggest there were things they didn't know, a team that could get by the new world order of Twitter and the 86,400 second news cycle. One blogger even called the chance of Cliff Lee signing with anyone other than the Yankees or Rangers "the invention of an agent" who was using a writer who dared to buck the status quo. That blogger even highlighted his jabs at the writer with a picture of the Mystery Machine, the vehicle of choice for Scooby Doo and pals. And it wasn't just snarky bloggers who have more jokes than information, mainstream writers got in on the meme as well.

Prince to Tigers
And then, well… Cliff Lee signed with the Mystery Team.

And so did Adrian Beltre.

But that didn't stop the barbs. After Albert Pujols went to Anaheim and now Prince Fielder to Tigers, the Mystery Team is no joke.

It's almost to the point where for the biggest of the big free agents, the Mystery Team is a favorite. And if we're not there, we're probably to the point where the Mystery Team should never be counted out of the running, and certainly to the point where it shouldn't be mocked.

The biggest reason there's more Mystery Team chatter is because there's more chatter, the people making the biggest decisions are doing so with respect to Twitter and the proliferation of outlets reporting on baseball and sports, in general. We're at the point where fans see an interviewing Theo Epstein in a Chicago Starbucks and it makes national news. The teams aren't laughing about "bloggers in their mother's basements" anymore -- it's serious stuff. If rivals learn of a team's plan, it can cost them on the field and off the field in terms of money.

In response, teams are being much more careful about where they are seen and who they are seen with. At the winter meetings, teams will use service elevators and back hallways, places unavailable to the public -- and the press -- to get around.

Also, when it comes to the highest levels of free agents, the type that could cost $100 or $200 million, you're not talking about a general manager having the final say, it's the owners who have to pull the trigger. That leads to an agent, such as Scott Boras, dealing with the money people, not the baseball people who have less of an incentive to keep quiet. The more people who know that a team is considering signing a player, the more chance it can leak out. At some point, the GM can say, "yeah, I'd love to have Albert Pujols." And that's a no-brainer. It's all up to the owner to decide if he wants to spend the money, so he meets with the agent, and maybe the player.

There are still cases like Jose Reyes, where pretty much everyone assumed he'd end up in Miami, but we're also at the point where you should never, ever count out the Mystery Team.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:59 pm
 

Prince adds new look to Tigers' lineup



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Last week we all wondered how the Tigers would replace the injured Victor Martinez in the lineup -- today we got our answer.

Prince Fielder immediately restores some roar to the Tiger lineup and makes a nice 3-4 combo with Miguel Cabrera, forming perhaps the most feared duo in baseball. And in 2013 you have a 3-4-5 of Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez -- all for the low, low price of $346.5 million (or $69.3 million pizzas from Little Ceaser's) for all three over the course of their contracts.

So, if Fielder signing with the Tigers is the biggest surprise of the day, how about this for the second-biggest shock? The move means Miguel Cabrera is likely headed back to third base. Yep, the bad defensive first baseman will now be a horrendous defensive third baseman (much to the chagrin of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Co.).

That means the rumors of the Johnny Damon return to Detroit make a little more sense, with the Tigers no longer needing a slugging DH. For now, though, I'll make my lineup with Don Kelly as the DH, knowing that the Tigers could still add a stopgap DH type, like Damon.

Prince to Tigers
Here's a too-early, first-stab at the new Tiger lineup:
1. Austin Jackson CF
2. Brennan Boesch RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 3B
4. Prince Fielder 1B
5. Delmon Young LF
6. Don Kelly DH
7. Jhonny Peralta SS
8. Alex Avila C
9. Ryan Raburn 2B

This, of course, could change at a moment's notice, but it also keeps the door open for a seemless transition when Martinez returns from his knee injury. Or the Tigers could realize that Cabrera at third base is a terrible idea and then they'll be overloaded with first basemen and designated hitters. Whatever happens, Mike Illitch is going to be signing some big checks and Verlander should have more run support.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:25 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Pujols or Fielder?



By Matt Snyder


Two superstar first basemen helped lead NL Central teams into the playoffs in 2011. In 2012, each will be playing in the American League.

Albert Pujols signed a whopping 10-year, $254 million contract to leave St. Louis and head to the Angels. Several weeks later (today), Prince Fielder accepted a nine-year, $214 million deal to join the Detroit Tigers.

We long had this matchup slated to run at some point in this Would You Rather Have series, but wanted to hold off until the dollar figures were known. Obviously if Fielder signed for half what Pujols did -- especially being younger -- he'd be the choice. But we now have contracts that are essentially apples to apples, as they're close enough in average annual value. 

Would You Rather Have
The case for Pujols

Ever since Barry Bonds retired, Pujols has been either the consensus best player in baseball or the runner-up (at times Alex Rodriguez was considered superior). Pujols has won three MVPs and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting every single season of his career -- and the top five all but one time. He already has 445 home runs and sports an absurd 1.037 career OPS (170 OPS-plus).

On top of all the considerable damage Pujols can do with his bat, he's a well-rounded player. He's widely regarded as an exceptional baserunner and an above average defender. He's certainly a much better defender than Fielder, so leave the puns alone.

Pujols also doesn't have the weight concerns many attach to Fielder.

The case for Fielder

He's no slouch with the bat himself. In only six full seasons -- and change -- Fielder has 230 homers and a .929 OPS. Last season he hit 38 home runs and drove home 120. For the third consecutive season, Fielder drew more than 100 walks, too, so his plate discipline can rival that of Pujols. And Fielder does have three top-four finishes in MVP voting in the past five seasons.

Despite concerns about weight, Fielder trumps Pujols in the durability category. Prince has only missed one game in the past three seasons combined. In his six full seasons, Fielder has averaged 160 games played. And that's a segue to the age issue.

Prince Fielder is only 27 -- he'll turn 28 this May. Albert Pujols just turned 32. And Pujols' contract is one year longer.

So, obviously Pujols would have been the choice for this past decade, but what about the decade to come?

Our call

I'm sticking with Pujols in a ridiculously difficult choice. Each player probably switches to designated hitter around the same time and I'll take Pujols' defense as the separation point in the next few years.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:02 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:04 pm
 

Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers



By Matt Snyder


Chalk up one more for the so-called mystery team. First it was Cliff Lee going to the Phillies, then Albert Pujols heading to the Angels. Now Prince Fielder has shocked the baseball world by signing with the Detroit Tigers, a team that hadn't even been remotely connected to him in rumors the entire offseason. The robust first baseman has signed a nine-year contract worth $214 million, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

The Tigers were recently dealt what appeared to be a pretty severe blow, as Victor Martinez tore his ACL and could miss the entire 2012 season. So there went Miguel Cabrera's lineup protection, right? Think again. Owner Mike Ilitch really wants to win a World Series championship and this signing indicates one of the strongest reactions one can even imagine to news like that.

Prince to Tigers
Heyman also notes that the finalists to land Fielder were the Nationals, Tigers and one other "mystery team." So it's entirely possible the Nationals would have come away with Fielder had Martinez not torn his ACL. It's funny how things work sometimes.

A Fielder-Cabrera combo in the middle of that order will dominate AL Central pitching. Throw Justin Verlander into the mix, and the Tigers have three of baseball's biggest stars.

Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 homers, 120 RBI, 95 runs and 36 doubles last season for the NL Central champion Brewers. He finished third in MVP voting and also took home the All-Star Game MVP. Though Fielder is a large man, he is as durable as they come. He hasn't played in less than 157 games in a season since becoming a regular. He played in all 162 last season, following up seasons where he appeared in 161 and 162 games, respectively.

The smart money with Fielder and Cabrera is a split at first base, with the other serving as the designated hitter. Then again, what if the Tigers got nuts and tried to shove Cabrera back across the diamond to play third base again -- where he began his career? That would mean the infield defense would be awful, but would also leave room for a better hitting DH than Brandon Inge (who, at this point, looks like the third baseman). And if Victor Martinez comes back healthy? It works even better.

The Tigers won the AL Central by 15 games last season. Even if Martinez misses all of the 2012 season, Fielder is a pretty sizeable upgrade to the offense. So it would appear the division is the Tigers' to lose.

For now, though, the only details that really matter are that Prince Fielder is heading to Detroit -- where his father once held down the middle of the order -- and he's going to make a whole lot of money.



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Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:52 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Santana or Posey?



By Matt Snyder


One position we haven't yet covered in this series to this point is the man behind the plate. And when I thought about catchers, I believe I found just about the perfect duo to provide an incredibly tough choice.

Indians catcher Carlos Santana is just 25 and already one of the most important members of the up-and-coming Tribe. Giants catcher Buster Posey is only 24 and easily one of the most irreplaceable parts of the Giants. You could call them stars now or future superstars. And both have already gone through a major leg injury.

Let's break it down.

The case for Santana

The tools are there to become one of the best young run producers in the game. Santana hit just .239 last season, but he walked enough to put up a .351 on-base percentage, which is a much more important stat. He also slugged 27 homers and 35 doubles. Also note that a torn ACL ended his rookie season prematurely, so Santana is likely looking at big step forward in 2012. With the lineup around him comprised mostly of young players with good potential, expect Santana to push his runs and RBI up around triple digits (he had 79 RBI and 84 runs last season).

Would You Rather Have
A slight plus here for Santana is that while both of these catchers has already suffered a major injury, we've already seen how Santana came back. Posey is still recovering.

The case for Posey

He opened the 2010 season in Triple-A. By the end of it, young Buster Posey was catching the final strike of the World Series and rushing into Brian Wilson's arms to celebrate. In between, Posey hit .305/.357/.505 with 18 homers, 23 doubles and 67 RBI in just 108 regular-season games. This was good enough to win the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year. Posey also hit the ball well during the postseason, putting up a .744 OPS.

Also, Santana is a pretty bad defensive catcher and while Posey isn't great, he's not bad. He works well with the staff and has thrown out 37 percent of would-be basestealers so far in his young career. Santana has thrown out 28 percent, which isn't awful, but most metrics aren't kind to him and the Indians have toyed with moving him to first base permanently. Even if we wanted to argue some of these points -- like that Posey has played first base at times, too -- there isn't much question Posey is a better defensive catcher.

Now, we said above that Posey still hasn't proven he will again be the player he was prior to the broken leg. It's possible there are no setbacks and he returns to the Posey of old, but there are no guarantees. Just ask Kendrys Morales. So far, so good, however, as all reports from Posey's camp suggest he's making good progress.

Our call

Man, flip a coin. I hate going on the injury thing, because the smart money is on a full Posey recovery. So we'll just assume he comes all the way back -- meaning both of these young catchers star for the foreseeable future. If Santana goes the way of former catcher Victor Martinez (1B or DH), his bat means that much less to the lineup, while Posey can nearly match his offensive production from behind the plate. If Santana stays behind the plate, he hurts the team defensively. If both were moved, though, Santana would be the pick because I feel like he has a slight bit more offensive upside. If Posey suffers any setbacks, Santana would be the obvious pick. So this is razor thin, but my choice is Posey in an absolute photo finish. Hey, as I've said before, I enjoy gambling.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:33 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Orioles sign Wilson Betemit

By Matt Snyder

The Baltimore Orioles have signed free agent infielder Wilson Betemit to a two-year contract worth $2.75 million, according to CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. There's also a $500,000 signing bonus and a $3.25 million vesting option for the 2014 season.

Betemit began 2011 with the Royals and was then traded to the Tigers, where he hit the ball well as their most frequently started third baseman the last two months of the season. He's a journeyman, no doubt, as the Orioles will mark his seventh team in 10 seasons.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Betemit, 30, hit .285/.343/.452 with eight homers, 46 RBI and 40 runs in 359 plate appearances last season. He was terrible in the playoffs, however, and the Tigers let him walk.

Betemit can fill many different potential needs for the Orioles. Mark Reynolds is an absolute butcher at third, so the O's could use Betemit at third and DH Reynolds. Betemit could also DH himself. And if Brian Roberts doesn't recover from his concussion symptoms, Betemit is an option there, too, along with Robert Andino. Then there's strikeout machine Chris Davis at first base, who has still yet to prove he can hit major-league pitching for large samples at a time.

Simply put: Betemit will have plenty of chances to earn playing time these next two seasons in Baltimore. The only question is where he slots.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 1:15 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 10:55 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Cabrera or Gonzalez?


By C. Trent Rosecrans

You could argue we're living in the golden age of first basemen. Of the last 12 MVPs, five have gone to first baseman, and four different ones (Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau), to boot. And that list doesn't even include Prince Fielder or either of the two first basemen we're looking at today -- Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Boston's Adrian Gonzalez.

Both slugging first basemen are younger than 30 (at least until May, when Gonzalez hits the big 3-0) and both rose to the majors by the time they were 22, although Gonzalez didn't become a star until he was traded to San Diego in 2006, while Cabrera came up as a third baseman and outfielder and got MVP votes as a 20-year-old rookie. Now, though, both are among the game's best and expected to pick up an MVP any time now.

The case for Cabrera

This isn't too tough to make -- Cabrera won the American League batting title with a .344 average and also had the league's best on-base percentage (.448) for the second consecutive season. He also hit 30 homers and led the majors with 48 doubles. He has a career OPS+ of 149 and had a 181 OPS+ last season, better even than his league-leading 178 in 2010. Here's a guy who is 33 homers from 300 and has a lifetime slash line of .317/.395/.555. The guy's bat is just special.

The case for Gonzalez

Would You Rather Have
A lot was expected of Gonzalez in his first season in Boston and it says something about his ability if his .338/.410/.548 season in his first year in a new league and in the toughest division in baseball was seen as something of a disappointment (but short of an MVP and World Series MVP, nothing was going to reach the lofty expectations of Red Sox fans coming into 2011). Gonzalez's 27 homers was his lowest total since 2006, his first full season in the big leagues, but he still led baseball with 213 hits and his 45 doubles ranked sixth in the league.

Not only is Gonzalez one of the best offensive players in the game, he's won four consecutive Gold Gloves, winning the award in both leagues.

As for the contract status, both players are more than fairly compensated, with Cabrera due to make $86 million over the next four seasons and Gonzalez signed through the 2018 season for a cool $154 million.

Our call

While Gonzalez is a very good player, Cabrera has the chance to be an all-time great. Gonzalez has better defense, but we're talking first base here, not shortstop. There would be some worry about Cabrera's off-the-field problems, but he's bounced back from those and he's never played less than 150 games since becoming a regular as a 21-year-old in 2004. He's the choice, no matter if he's a first baseman or a DH, because his bat is just that good.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Cabrera or Gonzalez on your favorite team?



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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com