11:41 PM Central
After a long, arduous day of travelling from south Florida to north Florida to deep in the heart of Texas (simple summary – American Airlines sucks, Southwest Airlines is awesome), I touched down to see that with the Winter Meetings beginning Monday morning, Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated – and noted guy-to-whom-Scott-Boras-tells-things – has reported that the Blue Jays are one of three finalists in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, and may even be the frontrunners.
It’s wonderful news for Blue Jays fans, for sure, but it’s also not even remotely close to true.
Prince Fielder wants a huge contract. Massive term, truckload of money, and he may well be worth it. After all, the guy is only 27 years old and is already a monster. In his six full big-league seasons, he’s hit .282/.391/.541 with 228 home runs, and he’s missed a grand total of 13 games over those six years. He and Albert Pujols are the best hitters available on the market and though Fielder’s body type doesn’t exactly make one confident about his ability to stay healthy as he ages, he is at least four years younger than Pujols – if not nine.
Someone is going to give Prince Fielder a huge contract – seven or eight years, $20 million-plus per season – but it’s not going to be the Blue Jays. Both the term and the money appear to be well out of the range of what Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston deem sensible, especially the term.
The Mariners and Rangers both want Fielder, the Marlins and Cubs (and Cardinals, if Pujols leaves) will be in on him, and the Brewers still haven’t given up on keeping him in America’s Dairyland. At last rumoured word, the Brewers were willing to offer Fielder a six-year deal worth $120 million. The market would have to drop a lot more than that for Fielder to make sense for the Blue Jays.
Yes, Cecil Fielder played in Toronto, and some assume that because of that there’s a natural pull for his son to come to the Blue Jays. Never mind that father and son have a strained relationship and barely speak, the fact is that Prince Fielder was only four years old when his dad left the Blue Jays for Japan, and when Cecil came back to the big leagues, he spent seven years with the Tigers, playing almost five times as many games with them as he did with the Blue Jays. It was in Detroit where the stories came out of 10 year-old Prince hitting shots into the upper deck. If there’s any kind of familial pull for Prince Fielder, it would be to Detroit, not to Toronto.
Also this weekend, the Blue Jays traded Brad Mills to the Angels for Jeff Mathis. In some corners of the blogosphere, this was seen as a horrible trade for the Jays – after all, Mathis can’t hit a lick.
Thing about this deal is, though, it should hardly even make a blip. It’s almost completely insignificant. Brad Mills was never going to be a part of the Jays’ future. His stuff doesn’t play in the A.L. East, and it might not play in the entire junior circuit at all. I’d love to see Mills pitch for the Padres or the Giants, he could wind up being pretty successful there. As for Mathis, the Jays’ current back-up catcher, it’s true, he can’t hit at all. Or at least he hasn’t to this point, but he’s the catching version of John McDonald. No bat, big-time glove. And he’s here for the next week or so for Alex Anthopoulos to either tender him a non-guaranteed contract which would enable the Jays to hold him as an asset all winter and through spring training (hey, your veteran back-up catcher got hurt? We’ve got a spare!) or for the Jays to try to sign him to a cheaper one-year deal with an option for a second year.
Mathis appears to be able to do good things behind the plate. So much so that Mike Scioscia, who knows a thing or two about solid defensive backstoppageness, kept running him out there over Mike Napoli despite the fact that he didn’t hit at all. If Mathis stays with the Jays, he’s a back-up catcher who hopefully plays no more than 30 or 40 games. If he doesn’t stay, he doesn’t stay. All they gave up was Brad Mills.
I’m looking forward to getting to the Hilton Anatole for the hurry-up-and-wait of the Winter Meetings. It’s my third time here – the first meetings I ever went to were here in Dallas, back in 1995. I was here then as part of the Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities program and wound up getting a job with the broadcast of the Twins’ AA team.
The Blue Jays were pretty busy the last time I was here, signing A.J. Burnett and dealing for Lyle Overbay, and we had an ice storm to contend with, so that was fun.
What’s going to happen this time? A lot of groundwork will be laid, that’s for sure, and we may see the Jays pull off a big trade before they head home on Thursday afternoon.
Whatever happens, I’ll cover it for you here on the blog, on the Twitter @wilnerness590 and, of course, on Sportsnet590 The Fan, so keep an eye out all week long!
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!