I remember I read it somewhere during spring training. Prince Fielder would be a mistake that the Rangers would soon regret. He was on the downside of his career and oh yeah, he was about 50 pounds overweight. Now I remember, it was right here on ScoreBoard that I read it and I’m the one who wrote it. At the risk of coming off resembling Skip Bayless, and tooting my own horn, I had a bad feeling about Fielder the day the trade was announced. I agreed that the Rangers needed a big bat in the lineup and that moving Ian Kinsler to make room for Jurickson Profar was the right move, but resigning Nelson Cruz was the move the Rangers needed to make, not acquiring the Tigers’ problem.
Thanks to a 3 for 4 night game against the Angels Sunday, Fielder brought his batting average up to a Mendoza-like .228. His 2 RBI’s gave him 11 after 31 games and his 2 home runs equal the season total of that other Ranger power source, Michael Choice. Fielder was supposed to protect Adrian Beltre and provide a one-two punch that would strike fear in the rest of the A.L. West. Instead, all that Fielder has done is make Ron Washington and hitting coach Dave Madagan, scratch their heads every day and wonder if the guy who averaged 35 homers and more than 100 RBI’s for the first 7 years of his career, might stop hitting every ball directly to the opponent’s infielders.
Fielder’s slugging percentage is .342; Shin-Soo Choo’s is .535, Alex Rios’ is .475. The Rangers are a fifth of the way through the season, still plenty of time to turn things around obviously, but Fielder was available to the Rangers for a reason. The Tigers were disenchanted with him, especially during their past two playoff appearances. So disenchanted that they ate about $30 million of Fielder’s contract to get the trade for Kinsler done. That had to tell Jon Daniels something. I still am of the belief that if you have a talented, young player who is out of shape, he can overcome it to a point. That point is about age 30, right where Fielder is. We were led to believe that Fielder would be in better shape for spring training, he wasn’t. By insisting Fielder weigh closer to 230 pounds than the 280 pounds he carries, they would have sent him a message. By letting Fielder remain so large they’ve gotten what they deserve – a really over-weight first baseman who’s a ground out machine, hitting 4 times as many ground balls as fly balls.
Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz is making less than half of what Fielder makes in Baltimore and as of last night had 9 homers, 29 RBI’s and is hitting .294. His slugging percentage is among the highest in the American League at .596. No doubt Jon Daniels has made a lot of good moves during his Rangers tenure, but so far the Fielder experiment isn’t looking like one of them.