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Tigers fans don’t care how much money Prince Fielder makes

Jan 26, 2012, 12:37 PM EDT

Image (1) Tigers%20logo%20old.gif for post 4853

I’ve been critical of the Prince Fielder contract. So have the majority of my counterparts around the baseball blogosphere. It’s a lot of money for a guy who doesn’t fit ideally into that roster and it may cause some issues later, yadda, yadda yadda, etc.

But Tigers fans don’t really care.  At least the ones who think like Kurt Mensching of Bless You Boys:

I’ll be honest, I think it’s all a bit of lunacy and breathless commentary from an industry that peddles in breathless commentary … Sure the deal is large, but that’s because it’s a nine-year deal and Fielder was the second-best player this offseason. Am I supposed to worry about nine years from now? Really? As economists say, in the long run we’re all dead. I’m going to bet that nine years from now, Fielder is no longer among the highest-paid players. Nine years ago, $13 million a year was a whole lot of money. Now $13 million wouldn’t even crack the top 50 list.

Mensching goes on to note that the Tigers have shown flexibility in the past, the willingness to make trades and the ability to buck the expectations of the smart set. One example: how the team was supposed to crater financially when the economic crisis hit a few years ago, yet have witnessed damn fine attendance and the ability to maintain high payrolls.

I’m not sure I’d be so rosy about it were I a Tigers fan, mostly because a lot of this hinges on unknowns like player health, what happens with guys like Justin Verlander, etc.  But Mensching is probably right that a lot of us are worrying a bit too much now about things that might not happen later.

There are a lot of bad long-term deals out there (and Mensching fully admits that the Fielder deal may look pretty bad towards the end).  But beyond the Cubs’ many awful deals, it’s not like all of them totally kneecap teams for a long period of time. Such deals can be total drags, but they’re not all complete and utter millstones.

And as Mensching also notes: in the long run, we’re all dead. So that’s cheery too.

  1. screename529 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Wholeheartedly agree with the premise here. To add to this, I feel like too often, bloggers assume that 1) Management doesn’t realize players decline as they age, and 2) Management is unwilling to increase payroll by all or most of the amount added. Isn’t it possible Ilitch said “the payroll is $120 million with Prince, $100 million without”?

    • paperlions - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      Ilitch doesn’t care because he is at that age where he has fully realized you can’t take it with you….might as well spend it and enjoy it.

      I agree that Tiger fans probably shouldn’t care right now, but after Ilitch dies, it seems unlikely that whoever inherits the franchise will have the same view….and contracts like this could weigh down the franchise for years.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        No sense in crossing that bridge early, though.

  2. marshmallowsnake - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Yet….

    • Old Gator - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      …yet indeed.

      I don’t think anyone is worrying about it, per se. I’m far more concerned about the devastated lives of the working people of the Detroit area than I am about whether Mike Ilich winds up paying the Fat Prince exorbitant amounts of money years beyond his usefulness. And the Tiggers are not my rooting interest anyway, so I’m not “worried” about how they make out unless and until they meet the Feesh in the World Series. You don’t have to be in the direct line of consequences to look at a situation, like the French did at our hot-pants rush into our war of lies and corruption in Iraq, and pronounce with some objectivity and from a safe distance, “that’s stupid.”

  3. cur68 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Is Mensching Russian? That’s some serious ‘live for today’ style reasoning. Well, all depressives aside, I think he’s right about the Fielder deal. If Fielder is still playing while Pujols hits the DL sometime in July/August and produces same as always, then we’ll see a lot less hand wringing about that fat contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot less Fielder, too at the pressor. Everybody seems to be assuming that guy’s still 275lbs. We might have to eat those words…

  4. Old Gator - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    “Am I supposed to worry about nine years from now? Really?”

    Almost word for word what my beloved uncle Jerry once told me as he lit up yet another cigar. About nine years later, he was going in to have his tongue and larynx removed. He went into cardiac shock presumably part of what he wasn’t supposed to worry about – and didn’t survive the operation.

    Although to be fair to him, he did go out with a great curtain line. Just before they wheeled him in, he told my cousins “If I don’t make it, be very, very good to your mother and give me as much of a head start as possible.”

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:07 PM

      I’ll safely argue that the Prince/cost situation does not in any way hold a candle to your Uncle’s condition.
      Which I suppose is another reason not to worry about who makes what, as a fanbase; well done, Gator.

  5. Jonny 5 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    He’s right in a way. Wrong in another. One thing for sure though, they got an awesome power hitter.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      Exactly. Yes, there’s a chance Prince’s contract stiffens things up a bit, especially while Cabrera’s salary is still on the books.

      There’s also a chance I fall off a bridge tomorrow.

      Pre-worrying is pointless and arbitrary. And this is coming from someone with severe anxiety disorder.

  6. silverdeer - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    As a long time Tiger fan, I am concerned about the length of the deal more than the money. The money they make is just plain stupid Monopoly money anyways and because I quit going to the games in person, I don’t have to worry about paying his salary.

    • Detroit Michael - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:51 PM

      You don’t pay any players’ salaries by attending games. The cost of attending a baseball game is determined by the supply and demand of other entertainment alternatives, not by the supplier’s costs. It’s basic economics.

      If you aren’t convinced, ask yourself why University of Michigan football players work for nearly free but a ticket to one of their games is still pricey.

  7. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    Nine years ago, $13 million a year was a whole lot of money.

    Except this isn’t true either. Perusing b-ref.com, I easily found 10 players who were making more than $13M a year in ’01-02. There aren’t half as many players who signed a deal for over $200M.

    However, time value of money and all, this contract may not look that bad in the future. But if only the top echelon guys are getting huge contracts, why do they think the salaries are going to keep escalating?

    • hackerjay - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:11 PM

      You can’t compare who was making $13 million+ to people that signed $200 million dollar deals. Fielder will be making on average about $23.8 million per year, which will make him something like the fifth or sixth highest paid player on a per year average, which would be like a $14 million salary nine years ago. So if salary inflation continues as it has over the last nine years, then Fielder will be making an equivalent salary to someone like Michael Young. That won’t be great if he isn’t adding value, but it also won’t cripple a team.

      That’s all assuming that salary inflation stays about the same as it has though, which who knows if that will be the case.

  8. brianbud - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    what if C J wilson blows his rotator cuff and pujols gets CARLOS GULLIEN disease…i did hear near the amount of complaining about giving a 32 year old 25 mil a year.

  9. Francisco (FC) - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Is it just me or does that tiger remind anyone else of the Cheetos tiger? Without the shades… (I think Family Guy did a parody of this).

  10. Detroit Michael - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Tiger fans will regret this contract, but very few think that today.

    For one, the opportunity cost of spending money on Fielder instead of more pressing needs than acquiring a second slugging first baseman is not clear. It seemed like Mike Illitch decided to blow the budget on Fielder but perhaps didn’t give Dave Dombrowski this budget room when the off-season began. Second, fans tend to far overestimate the impact of a single player on a team’s expected success.

  11. Mark - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    So he argues:

    “Fielder fits in roughly with Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Mauer in annual compensation and the length of the deal. Sure he’s maybe a million higher a year, but I hardly find that to be a reason to freak out. On a shorter deals, you can add in names like Miguel Cabrera or Mark Teixeira. ”

    I’m not really sure that actually helps his point. Howard’s deal was panned before he even played a year of the new contract and he’s been trending down for a few years. For some perspective, Howard actually won’t start his new contract until this year, which is what he’s using to justify the Fielder deal. Tex is trending down too, and while the Yanks did get a WS in 09 the idea of Tex only being an ~830 OPS guy isn’t good given the money. And Mauer might not be able to play C again, so unless he can stay healthy or switch positions that’s not a good deal either.

    So while he’s trying to tell us not to freak out about the Fielder deal, half of the contracts he’s mentioned as comparisons are legitimately bad contracts within the first 2 years of the deal. We’re not talking years down the line, we’re talking almost immediately after extending/signing the contract. Fielder should provide good returns early on, but how long he’ll stay that way is really the million dollar question.

    Pujols hasn’t started his deal yet but given the 3 year decline that’s not a good sign either. But it’s hard to evaluate it when he hasn’t even played, so I can’t really argue for or against it. And Adrian Gonzalez did well in his first season even with the injuries, but he isn’t really in the same ballpark as the other deals as he’s 30-60M lower than most of them. Tough to compare a $150M contract to guys making 180, 210, or even 240.

    Really of all the contracts Miguel Cabrera has been the only one worth it to this point, and he signed that deal when he was 25 so he wasn’t even in his prime yet. And he’ll only be 32 when the deal is done, whereas the other guys were 32 a few years into the deal. So while Fielder is similar in that he’s still in his prime like Cabrera, he’ll be out of his prime midway through the deal so he compares better to Tex/Gonzalez than Cabrera. And Cabrera was thought to be playing 3B at the time, even if everybody knew he’d move back to 1B.

    He’s trying to downplay the amount of money by suggesting towards the end Fielder’s annual salary won’t be that high. And maybe on an annual basis it won’t be. But it’s tough to argue that we’ll see many contracts larger than Fielder’s. You pretty much have to get a guy who has played several years at an MVP level while entering free agency in his prime. Which means they basically have to be the next A-Rod/Pujols (unless, you know, they have an insanely good agent). So I don’t agree with that argument either.

    It’s a nice attempt at saying the contract isn’t so bad, but it’s a little flawed.

  12. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    How much playoff share $$ would it take to bridge the gap between this being a good deal and a bad deal?

    The fact is (and maybe I am jaded as a Yankee fan) I don’t care how much money millionaires swap among themselves, as long as the team is good and fun to watch. Freddy Garcia is making more money this year than I am likely to make in my lifetime, so why split hairs about how much is too much?

  13. dowhatifeellike - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Why should fans care how much it cost to land Fielder? It’s not their money. Pay him half a billion if that’s what it takes. It’s not like there’s a salary cap where paying the man impacts the ability to pay other men.

    All of the MLB owners can afford to spend more than they currently do – they just choose not to. Turning a profit is more important to them than fielding a competitive team.

  14. philliesblow - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Nice to see the old school Tigers logo instead of the Olde English D. Nice choice, Craig. Makes me long for old Tiger Stadium.

  15. kalinedrive - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    I think the Tigers ended up paying Damion Easley $14 million to go away.

    Damion Easley.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 27, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      Easley like Sunday Morning.

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