Friday, July 1, 2011

Prince Fielder Leaves New York and Talk of Joining Yankees Goes Too

It happens every time a visiting super-star plays in Yankee Stadium.  Fans wonder how the player would look in pinstripes.  Prince Fielder was no exception this week when the Milwaukee Brewers came to the Bronx and were swept by the Yankees.  It sounded like there was a size 50 jersey already hanging in the locker room for the end-of-season free agent.

Everyone looks at the powerful lefthanded-hitting Fielder and fantasizes about what his home-run totals would be if he was swinging for the short right-field seats at Yankee Stadium.  Home run records would be shattered with no asterisks attached, agree the experts.

"Man, I'd hate to think how many he could hit in this sandbox," said a scout watching the first game.  "Put Fielder in the line-up as a DH and they [the Yankees] might never lose."

Here's a reality check.  Fielder finished the three-game series against the Yankees, in their "sandbox",  2-for-11 with no home-runs and  a single RBI.  The big leftie was last seen flailing at a CC Sabathia fastball.

Fielder has been a one man wrecking crew for the Brewers this season.  The early-MVP candidate is batting .305 with 21 home runs and 68 RBI's.  If Fielder becomes the National League MVP, he would be the first player to win the award in a walk year since Barry Bonds did it in 2001.

We're talking about a BIG payday.

The rumors of the Yankees trading for Fielder or snagging the first-baseman when he becomes he is a free-agent could be squashed by the Yankees on two fronts.

First, the Yankees already have a slugger at first in Mark Teixeira.  Tex is also arguably the best fielding first baseman in the majors.  The 30 year-old Teixeira leads the majors with 25 dingers so he's not going anywhere.

Secondly, there isn't even a place for platooning a $25 million(?) DH on the Yankees, not with Alex Rodriguez tied up for another six years and already showing signs of age in the field.  A-Rod may be seeing more and more DH starting this season.

So the possibility of the 275-pound Fielder coming to New York is just psyche.

Make no mistake, the 27 year-old Fielder is going to get Yankee-size money, only not with the Brewers and probably not with the Yanks.

There is little chance a small-market team like Milwaukee could afford the big guy.  It's the kind of dough that lured Sabathia from Milwaukee to New York.

Yankee fans can still dream.  Imagine penciling these names in the middle of your line-up card:  Curtis Granderson, Teixeira, A-Rod and Robinson Cano followed by Fielder batting sixth.  That's 200 home-runs right there.

While all the sports-radio talk these days in New York centers around keeping up with the potent Boston Red Sox line-up; the Yankees are concentrating on pitching, namely a middle reliever.  The team already hits home-runs by the truckload, scores runs and lead the Sox by 2 1/2 games.  Another big bat is not a priority--not one in Fielder's new tax bracket.

Fielder's uncertain future doesn't seem to faze him too much.   The Brewers lead the NL Central and he is in the midst of a playoff race.  The  two-time All-Star has is concentrating on his play and there no need to show his hand just yet.

"His numbers have been impressive," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin.  "But I think the way he's been able to focus is even more impressive."

Fielder surely hasn't slammed the door on the Yankees and made it clear a DH role in the AL isn't out of the question.

"I'm not ruling anything out," said Fielder.  "But as for right now, I like playing first base."


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