With the signing of Prince Fielder, is Detroit the new favorite in the AL?
By Cam Cain 1-27-12
In an offseason of surprises like Albert Pujols joining the Angels, this is up there as one of those shockers. The nine year deal is reportedly worth 214 million dollars. Only a few thought Fielder was heading anywhere other than Arlington, Miami, or the capitol. Then, Texas signed Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Now all was left was the built-to-win-today Marlins and the built-to-win-in-two-or-three-years Nats. But he chose to head to the Motor City, already the heavy favorites in the Central. I was confused for a while about this one. Then, it hit me. Fielder’s dad, Cecil, played at the old Tiger Stadium for 6 1/2 years, the best of his career, making three allstar teams and hitting 51 home runs in 1990. It was there that young Prince learned the game, hitting monster shots over the fence as a teenager. And the fans sure remember him. The Prince was merely heading home, albeit to a different castle.
So, who does this affect?
This loss, as inevitable as it was, is a tough one to swallow. Especially if Ryan Braun’s appeal of his 50 game suspension for allegedly taking performance enhancing drugs is denied. This is a huge step back for Milwaukee who has not made any big signings or trades so far.
The Cardinals benefit from this deal. This could possibly put this young team into the playoffs with a wild card spot. Besides, they won the World Series despite Adam Wainwright not pitching a single inning due to injury.
Despite peaking in July and struggling towards the end of the year and finishing below .500, don’t count out the Pirates as a dark horse candidate.
This puts the Reds over the top. They have so much young talent including power hitting right fielder Jay Bruce, and speedy center fielder Drew Stubbs. They signed closer Ryan Madson, who saved 32 games for Philadelphia. They also made a statement by trading away Edinson Volquez and first base prospect Yonder Alonso for pitcher Mat Latos of the Padres. This told the fans that they are willing to keep superstar Joey Votto and this is exactly what they needed. Their only worry in the division is St. Louis. The Reds hope they pull a long term Indianapolis Colts, struggling after losing the face of their franchise. Either way, the Reds are the favorites in the Central, if not the NL.
This team is strong from top to bottom. Despite losing Victor Martinez for probably the season, they will likely move Miguel Cabrera to DH. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister are at the top of the rotation and all have had success. Also, Alex Avila is a rising star behind the plate and had 85 RBIs last season at age 24. They are my early pick for the World Series.