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Prince Fielder needs to be a full-time designated hitter

Jan 24, 2012, 5:32 PM EDT

Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, Drew Stubbs AP

After the stunning news that the Tigers had signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract came another little bombshell, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:

prince will be the first baseman, for anyone asking. cabrera will have to change role.’s Danny Knobler, a former Tigers beat writer, made the same claim minutes later (he probably would have had it first if he didn’t bother with that pesky capitalization):

Expect the Tigers to play Prince every day at 1B, and to move Cabrera to 3B. And don’t be surprised if he’s better there than you think.

So, that’s the way it will likely be aligned at the start of the spring. Still, if the Tigers actually start the season that way, they’ll have the game’s worst infield defense and possibly the worst seen in the league in a few years. Some days, it would include three players who were moved off their current positions, only to return later:

– The Marlins stopped playing Cabrera at third base after the 2007 season.

–  The Indians shifted Jhonny Peralta from shortstop to third base in 2009 before the Tigers put him back there a year later.

Ryan Raburn will compete with Ramon Santiago for time at second base. The Tigers originally stopped playing Raburn at second in 2008 before giving him 15 starts there in 2010 and 55 starts there last year (even though he opened the season behind Will Rhymes, Santiago, Scott Sizemore and the injured Carlos Guillen in the pecking order).

The Tigers can probably afford to start the season that way. I doubt they’ll be able to afford to finish it with such an alignment. The only reason for them to do it is if it was a condition of Fielder picking Detroit. It makes no sense for baseball reasons, not when they just lost Victor Martinez, their full-time DH, to a torn ACL. Fielder at DH, Cabrera at first base and Brandon Inge at third is the right alignment for these Tigers for now. Inge should at least flash an above average glove, and if he doesn’t hit much better than last year, a cheap third baseman can be acquired later.

And if it is a condition of Fielder’s arrival that he has to play first, then sticking Cabrera in left field and Delmon Young at DH would be a superior alternative to the other plan. Young’s a big liability in the field anyway, so the Tigers probably wouldn’t lose much defensively by going to Cabrera there.

But let’s face it: the Tigers only wanted Fielder for his bat. Shaking up the whole defense to make room for it simply doesn’t add up, and it would likely cost the team some of what it gains with his arrival.

  1. damnyankee13 - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    For what yall are paying him,. he should play 1st, 2nd, AND be the DH all at the same time.
    good luck folks

    • cshearing - Jan 25, 2012 at 8:15 AM

      That’s rich from a Yankees fan. Does A-Rod play every infield position?

      • n5605p - Jan 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM

        Not disagreeing that A-Rod is way overpaid, but at least he’s an asset at 3rd.

  2. jason1214 - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Guess Knobler, forgets Miggy would need to drop 30 lbs just to be adequate at 3rd. Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. chibimike - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    “The Marlins stopped playing Cabrera at third base after the 2007 season.”

    Geez, they stopped playing him at 3rd by trading him. The Tigers moved him to 1st because Carlos Guillen was miserably bad at 1st and the Tigers had Inge to put at 3rd.

    The bottom line of this trade is that Cabrera moves to 3rd base taking Inge and his .197 BA out of the lineup. It would take an unprecedented number of errors to offset that.

    • thefalcon123 - Jan 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      Cabrera was *the* worst defensive 3rd baseman in baseball. Now, he’s heavier, older and hasn’t played their in a couple of years. His awfulness at the position would likely be at historic levels.

      Teams don’t move players to 1st base because they are good at their position. They move them because they have a good bat and have to be put somewhere on the field.

  4. HitsDingers - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Miggy wouldnt be fit enough to play 3rd if he got on the LenWhale diet and stopped drinking tequila. Seriously, he looks like he ate Pablo Sandoval… who is himself laughably inadequate at the hot corner. I can see it now–Miggy falling over trying to get to a hard grounder, trying to throw it across the diamond, and Prince waiting on the other end, rolling on the ground himself trying to snag the throw. Pretty similar to what I imagine an entire infield of Mannys would look like.

  5. motorcitydiddy - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Tigers tried Cabrerra @ 3B when he first came & made 5 errors in 12 games. End of experiment. What makes no sense (other than the loss of V-Mart) is if they were going to go “all in” this off-season why not go after Reyes? Team speed/infield defense are 2 of our biggest needs. There was also rumors of a deal in place for Gio Gonz for some top prospects that they passed on but again if you’re going all-in???

  6. proudlycanadian - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Just can’t have enough DH’s in this league. Nobody else has 3 quality hitters at that position. The Yankees are green with envy as they do not have a single DH on their roster.

  7. detroitcityryda - Jan 24, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Yankees fan talking about paying too much lol plzzzz u just mad .

  8. paperlions - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    I think Cabrera will be historically bad at 3B, so….if he is simply horrible, Knobler will have been correct, as Cabrera will have been better than I expected.

    • paperlions - Jan 24, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      Cabrera is naturally slow…he was horrible at 3B 5 years ago…now, older, fatter, slower…he’s somehow not supposed to be horrible or worse?

      Gotta love the off-season optimism.

      • cmutimmah - Jan 25, 2012 at 9:12 AM

        Hey guys, there are a lot of slow 3Bs out there that play the position for their bat… this will be no exception. The 5-6 hole will be gaping with Peralta and Miggy’s lack of range, but assume that costs them 1 run a game, you’ll get it back with the offesive impact.

        People will find anything to complain about. Remember Cabrera made a LOT of good plays at 1b. The only trouble he will have is against bunters. Inge is getting paid too much to get cut, so he can always be brought in for defensive help for finishing off games.

  9. natstowngreg - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Well, Miggy at 3B should have entertainment value, if nothing else. However, one has to wonder if the Tigers are setting themselves for losing in the post-season due to bad defense. Remember the 2006 World Series…

  10. takingbovadasmoney - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Cabrera will DH and play some 3rd and left field in interleague games. Who at NBC or Notre Dame is Matthew Pouliout related to?

  11. neelyisgod - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    I love it!!!! Taking my Red Sox off and becoming a Tigers fan. Alternate Miggy ( my fav player btw) and Prince between 1st & DH and that is even more nasty than a roided up Manny & Papi circa 2004

  12. bigleagues - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Seriously, at this late stage in the FA game . . . just who was bidding against the Tigers to drive the price and length up that high?!

    This is the beginning of the end of the Tigers. Oh sure, they’ll look like contenders, they’ll play like contenders at times, but in one stroke of the pen, Le Tigres have become the 90’s Red Sox redux.

  13. mentalotherhalf - Jan 24, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    This is way more interesting stuff than what Danny Knobler used to write for Tiger Beat.

  14. philliesblow - Jan 24, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    The good news for Detroit fans is that if Ndamukong Suh or Nick Fairley get hurt, the Tigers now have a couple spare D tackles that they can loan to the Lions.

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