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Will Prince be enough for a crown?/Paul Peterson

February 1, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

As baseball deals go, the Detroit Tigers free agent signing of Prince Fielder last week was a bonafide blockbuster.

The size and length of the contract approved by owner Mike Ilitch was mind-boggling. Nine years is a very long time, and just about anything can happen in that span.

As a lifelong Tigers fan, I was at first elated by the acqusition of the slugging first baseman, who could combine with Miguel Cabrera to give the team a modern-day version of Murderers Row.

But as I had time to digest the deal, some doubts begin to creep into my thinking.

First of all, I have questions about moving Cabrera to third base so that Fielder can take over first. And more doubts that Cabrera can handle third defensively on an everyday basis.

Fielder, who's not all that great of a first-sacker, could lower the defensive capabilities of the team because Cabrera had turned himself into a more than adequate defender at the position.

Secondly, Fielder was a power hitter in the friendly confines of Miller Park. But will he hit with the same kind of punch in cavernous Comerica Park? One must remember that he hits many of his homers to right center - an area in Detroit that swallows up deep fly balls.

Furthermore, there is talk in Motown that stone-fingered Ryan Raburn may get more time at second base. That would leave shortstop Jhonny Peralta as the lone stellar fielder (no pun intended) in the infield.

Granted, the Tigers appear to have more than enough pop in their lineup and strong enough pitching to overwhelm the watered-down American League Central Division.

Minnesota has lost many of the players that made it a threat for the past decade. Chicago appears to be an aging team on the way down. Cleveland is a team short on pitching and hitting, while Kansas City - perhaps the chief contender to the Tigers - will have to rely too much on youth to be taken seriously.

That leaves the Tigers looking ahead to the other contenders in the league, namely the juiced-up Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, and possibly, the Boston Red Sox.

The question will be whether the Detroiters can outpitch and overpower their main rivals when playoff time arrives.

That's why it would have been nice to add a quality second baseman and probably a centerfielder in case inconsistent Austin Jackson doesn't learn to make better contact (he whiffed more than 180 times in 2011).

Still, all will be well in Motown this summer if the newest version of the Bash Brothers comes through. But don't put the farm on that happening just yet ...



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