Wisch: Is The Weight Worth It For Prince Fielder?

By Dave Wischnowsky–

So far this season, Prince Fielder is batting a cool .400 and was just named the National League Player of the Week.

He’s also 26 days shy of his 27th birthday, just 25 pounds shy of 300 (according to his official MLB bio, at least) and he could be the next first baseman of the Chicago Cubs – with a contract worth as much as $200 million and lasting as long as eight years.

So, how does that weigh on you?

Last week, Fielder – the Milwaukee Brewers’ portly powerhouse – torched NL pitchers to the tune of a .440 average that included back-to-back three-hit games as the Brewers won a weekend pair from the Cubs at Miler Park. Through 10 games in 2011, Fielder is leading the National League with 11 RBI to go along with two home runs and a .488 OBP.

“He’s really seeing the ball well,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “… Hopefully that lasts through the year.”
Whichever team inks Fielder to a long-term contract once his current one-year pact with the Brewers expires this winter will be hoping that Fielder’s batting eye will last for many seasons to come.

And I have no doubt that it will – the guy can flat-out hit. But, it’s the slugger’s body that has me concerned. Because, it’s just highly unlikely that Fielder will age well as his mileage add up. Consider this: Despite supposedly becoming a vegetarian back in 2008, Fielder has still managed to gain five pounds.

Last summer, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote the following about the keg-shaped Brewer: “It’s still difficult for scouts to get past Fielder’s body. He is fat. He is indeed quite fat. Listed at 5-foot-11 (probably an inch shorter in reality) and 270 pounds (probably a few more than that, too), Fielder is an original.

“No player in Baseball-Reference.com’s database dating to 1901 carried so many pounds on such a squat body. Thus, finding a comparable player for aging purposes becomes a particularly trying task.”

In lieu of a true peer, Passan went on to consider Fielder’s bloodlines and compared him to his heavyweight father, Cecil, who was listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds – downright svelte compared to Prince – but saw his career decline dramatically as the years added up.

At the ages of 26 and 27, Cecil put together back-to-back MVP runner-up seasons and then kept running strong for a couple more years until he turned 30. After that season, however, “Cecil turned in seasons of 11, 8 and 1 percent better than the league-average OPS,” wrote Passan, “At 34, he was terrible. Fielder never played again.”
This past Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Cubs are considering a potential landing spot for Prince next season and that he is said to be seeking an eight-year deal worth a princely sum of $180-$200 million that will most likely put him out of Milwaukee’s price range.

Fielder is four years younger than Albert Pujols, who is also expected to test the free agent waters this winter, but he’s also four inches shorter (at least) and 45 pounds heavier (at least). And, while it’s likely that any team that signs Pujols to a 10-year contract will feel some buyer’s remorse towards the end, it’s fair to wonder if a team that signs Fielder to an eight-year contract won’t feel regret even sooner.

The Cubs need hitting – their current first baseman, Carlos Pena, is currently batting .185 with no home runs and four RBI (one season after he batted .196). But, in recent years, they have also locked themselves into more than their fair share of bad long-term deals (Alfonso Soriano, hello!) and should be leery of doing so yet again.

So, six months from the day when he can become a free agent, the question with Prince Fielder is: will the weight be worth it?

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: Is The Weight Worth It For Prince Fielder?

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Prince in the land of deep-dish???
    No, thanks.
    Bad contract if > 3 years.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Permit me to weigh-in with another comment……Dmitri Young.
    Not as much talent as Prince but the same problem.
    If he could only have puto down the fork he would have been great.


  • Mr. Baseball

    Just what the Cubs need. Another Soriano deal.

  • Jake from da burbs

    I wouldn’t go any higher than 5 years 125M. He won’t take it. We shouldnt budge and that should be the end of that.

    The risk is just too great that after year 3 of an 8 year deal, Fielder goes from great to can’t play anymore and needs to be traded to a AL team with a DH position. And eventually thats where Fielder should land, an AL team that would eventualy move him from 1st to DH over the span of an 8 year contract.

    The problem is, there just is not much of a market for Fielder. Who can really afford him besides the Cubs? Maybe the Angels? Maybe the Dodgers if the divorce gets settled?

    Regardless, the Cubs need to see if they can pick off a young guy somewhere from a team with an overload of 1st base talent. How about Billy Butler or the big Hawaian kid from the KC Royals? How about Chris Davis of Rangers? How about Gaby Sanchez of Marlins? Actually, if the Cub’s season goes south by June, we should use the trade deadline to re-tool and pick up our next 1st baseman or even our next 3rd baseman.

    I just hope that the dreams of playoff season that will more likely be a .500 season does not prohibit the Cubs from re-tooling or even blowing this baby up midseason if we have to. If we’re 10GB and/or 4th in our division by July 4, we should have more than one reason to grab me a couple firework rockets.

  • Dave Wischnowsky

    It will be Interesting this winter to see if either Fielder or Pujols get the kind of years they’re seeking. I wouldn’t be stunned at all if each of them have to settle for considerably shorter deals.

    I might — might — go eight years with Pujols (really, I’d prefer no more than seven, six would be even better). With Fielder, I think anything in the NL beyond five years is crazy, and anything beyond three is dangerous. He’s just not going to be able to field his position eventually. And I also wonder how much longer he’ll be able to leg out three doubles like he did last Saturday. He can’t do that indefinitely, not with his girth. And not much longer at all, I’d guess.

    At the same time, the Cubs have to do something is offseason to energize and excite the fan base.

  • JDubya

    He should go to the American League where he can DH. Too much baggage (pun intended) to play the field in the NL.

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