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What if the Brewers had kept Prince Fielder over Ryan Braun?

Jul 22, 2013, 8:33 PM EDT

Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder Getty Images

The truth is that the Brewers made their choice well before Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers two winters age. As a small-market team already pushing the payroll to the limit in 2010, the Brewers knew they’d have to decide whether to build around Ryan Braun or Fielder.

What made it an easy choice was that Braun was already under control through 2015 under the terms of an eight-year, $45 million contract he signed at age 24.

Fielder, represented by Scott Boras, was never amenable to such a contract. He did sign a two-year, $18 million pact when he was first eligible for arbitration, but the Brewers weren’t able to convince him to give up any free agency seasons. The Brewers weighed trading him after the 2010 season, when he had one year left before free agency (one rumored deal would have sent him to the Dodgers for James Loney and Jonathan Broxton), but they instead chose to make a run with him and let him go in free agency. In April 2011, they doubled down on their commitment to Braun, giving him a five-year, $105 million extension through 2020.

We know what happened next. Despite a seemingly bare market in the aftermath of the Albert Pujols contract, Fielder got a nine-year, $214 million contract from the Tigers that took him through 2020. Though he was the inferior player, Fielder would make $72.5 million more than Braun under the terms of their deals.

If the Brewers had it to do over again now, I imagine they would have declined to give Braun the big extension. However, giving a $200 million to Fielder seems like no better of an idea now than it did then, even if Brewers first basemen have been terribly unproductive in the two years since Fielder departed (Corey Hart did well after moving in from right field last year, but he’s missed all of 2013. Mat Gamel has missed the last two years).

Fielder did have a great first season after leaving for Detroit, hitting .313/.412/.528 with 30 homers while supporting Miguel Cabrera in the Tigers lineup, but Braun was even better, hitting .319/.391/.595 with 41 homers. This year, Fielder’s numbers have fallen well off; he’s sitting at .269/.362/.453 with 16 homers, though he has driven in 70 runs. Fielder’s body type has always made him a poor bet to age well. Expectations were that he’d be a $20 million-per-year player in the first half of a new contract, but that the back half could get ugly fast. His 2013 line is probably more the result of an off three months than the beginning of the end, but it still can’t be taken as a good sign at all.

Even with the steroid cloud forever hanging over Braun’s head, I’m pretty sure I’d rather have him at $127 million for the next seven years than Fielder at $168 million. Fielder probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference in the Brewers’ chances this year, and he’s not getting any better with time.

  1. rbj1 - Jul 22, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Then no triple crown for Miggy. Thanks for a fun summer last year, Brew Crew.

    • cohnjusack - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      Why? Did Fielder go in disguise and take at bats as Cabrera when Miguel was feeling under the weather or something? Because any other argument goes into “lineup protection” which people continually bring up then drop instantly once it’s a player keeps the same level of production sans “protection”.

      • rbj1 - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:48 PM

        Yup. Martinez was on the DL last year. I’d walk Miggy. Think Bonds. No protection.

      • cohnjusack - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:56 PM

        You’re right! What protection did Bonds every have?

        Well…in 2001 he has the reigning NL MVP in Jeff Kent as protection. Plus, Rich Aurilia hit like 37 home runs
        In 2002, he still had Jeff Kent. I know, I know…he hit a measly 37 home runs with a .933 OPS!
        Yep, no protection at all for Bonds!

        Seriously…it takes like five seconds to search baseballreference for this stuff guys.

      • cktai - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:35 AM

        To be fair, Kent’s OPs in both 2001 and 2002 was 450 points lower than Bonds’ OPS. I’m not sure if anyone at all was qualified to serve as protection for Bonds.

  2. apkyletexas - Jul 22, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    “What if the Brewers had kept Prince Fielder over Ryan Braun?”

    They would still be a last place team.

    • Barb Caffrey - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:50 AM

      Just a last place team that was much more fun to watch.

  3. jaydestro - Jul 22, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    if my aunt was a man she’d be my uncle. great insight.

  4. boyofzimmer - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    What if monkeys shoot of my butt!

    • paperlions - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:12 PM

      It would be Tuesday?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:23 PM

        Oh, is Tuesday “monkey shoot of” day up in your parts? Yankees. *sigh*

      • historiophiliac - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:26 PM

        Ok, you know I don’t ever do this, but I wanted to see what you thought about the Missouri/St. Louis bit, so here:

        I’m curious what you got in school about it.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:30 AM

        That I recall….absolutely nothing. Heck, I don’t think our history classes had even been updated enough to get past WWII. The curriculum seemed to not have changed in many decades to account for, you know, more history.

        …but even if this type of thing was discussed, I have no memory of it whatsoever. I seriously doubt they thought it was a good idea to tell a bunch of white kids exactly HOW racist their parents and grandparents were.

      • weaselpuppy - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:32 PM

        can that blog be any harder on the eyes? #readabilityisyourfriend

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:37 AM

        Actually, reading white on a dark back ground is far EASIER on the eyes, especially when you spend all day reading.

      • jwbiii - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:09 AM

        “In 1939, the real first sit-in protest for desegregation in the south occurred in Alexandria, Virginia. Five young black men went to the library there to obtain library cards, and when they were denied them, they took seats at various tables and sat down with books to read.”

        I did not that and I grew up in Alexandria (to the extent to which that has happened). So I went to high school a 45 minute walk from the site of a significant Civil Rights event and heard nothing about it. Greensboro, Jonesboro, Freedom Riders, Birmingham, we got. Our own backyard? No.

        We all know that John Brown was from “Bleeding Kansas,” right? That the Board in Brown v. Board was the Topeka School Board? I think we understand that segregation was far more widespread than just in the Confederacy.

        Have you written on the Tulsa Riot?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:26 AM

        I wasn’t trying to start a whole conversation here, but jwbiii that fits w/ my experience — not talking about events in your own backyard. I’m not sure even now they talk about the race riot in schools much — and they hardly talk about desegregation at all. The only reason I heard about it is because I had a teacher who was Native American and liked to teach against the traditional white narrative that plays here. She’s the only one who ever mentioned it to me (I learned more as an adult) and I know a lot of people who grew up here and never heard about it. The little town I teach in doesn’t tell their students anything about segregation there either. The Race Riot is something we are just starting to talk publicly about — and it’s really complicated. We are still trying to make peace with it. I haven’t written much about it — I’ll be honest, it’s so political on all sides that it’s hard to do it. I’ve heard people around here call John Hope Franklin a “Tom” for his take on it and meanwhile the City still balks at a public apology and “passing judgement” (as our City councilors call it) on those involved. Meanwhile, it’s almost impossible to find a copy of our original state Constitution with the segregation/racial parts in it.

        Sorry, about all that, paper.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:34 AM

        Oh, I completely agree! OF COURSE, people don’t talk about how racist they are/were….it was THEM…over THERE that were racist, not US….over HERE. That is just how people are….defense mechanisms are strong, and there are probably important social reasons for that.

        I recall being taught nothing in HS that was recent enough that my parents would have been alive. Every country white-washes their history as best as possible in an attempt to cover up what monsters they were.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:36 AM

        You’d kinda think they’d want to be proud they did it earlier though.

        But, really, you’re so old none of that was really history yet. 😉 he he

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:44 AM


      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:45 AM

        Thank you for starting my day so happily. 😉

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:36 AM

        I would have responded sooner….but I was busy losing my fucking mind because OMG a baseball player was suspended for taking PEDs and I was pretty sure it was the worst thing ever in the history of the world (okay, not really, which appears to put me in the minority).

        If you think taking PEDs is worse that DUI (or fucking Lueke the rapist being on an MLB roster), they you have problems with priorities.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:44 AM

        I had a little fun with it. You know we disagree on this one, but man, some of the comments were crazy OVER THE TOP! Clearly, there was an infestation of PFT types. I couldn’t read it all and it will probably be like that again today. It’s a good thing I have papers to grade. It’s embarrassing when people on “your side” act the fool and make you all look bad. I pretty much stick to making smart ass comments on these ones. I was shocked by the announcement though.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:46 AM

        I’m not sure what we disagree on. If a guy is caught and there is evidence. Suspend his ass. The problem I have is all of the BS moralizing, general PED ignorance (both with respect to effects and side effects), and over-the-top moralizing and character assassination. None of the people throwing stones are angels, and most have likely done something worse than cheat at baseball.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:48 AM

        Yeah, there’s a reason we don’t talk about this. :)


        I don’t recall cheating at anything. I regret a little not cheating…but no cheating.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:54 AM

        Every talk on the phone while driving? Ever drive home after having 2 or more drinks? Doing either put people’s lives at risk, studies show that talking on the phone actually make a person far more likely to be in an accident that having a BAC ~ 0.10.

        Those things are worse than cheating at baseball, which, despite the mental gymnastics people go through, really is a victimless crime.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:59 AM

        As I say, we do not discuss these for a reason. :)

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:03 AM

        I suppose there probably is…but before you tell me to have a nice day, I’ll just remind you that your favorite player beat his wife, threatened to blow up a bar, and was found on the side of the road wasted out of his mind, lucky that he didn’t kill anyone. There is no way those actions can be considered morally superior than taking PEDs.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:06 AM

        See, this is why we don’t discuss it. I’m not having a serious conversation about this on here. I totally learned my lesson last year. You and I can just agree to disagree on some stuff. I’m sure you will just assume that means I give Miggy a pass b/c he’s the MVP and plays on my team, but that would not be correct. I just am avoiding a serious discussion on this. We have different sentiments. So, don’t have a nice day then. 😛

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:09 AM

        Well, just to spite you I WILL have a nice day….in fact, I will make sure to have a VERY nice day indeed.

        It has been nice so far, it is actually raining here for the first, serious raining, for the first time all month…after the heat waves, we really needed it.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:17 AM

        How nice. We had a surprise hard rain yesterday and a good bit over the weekend too (unfortunately the one time I planned to work in the yard). I took the day off yesterday. I got a massage in the am & then came home and chilled out listening to music while it rained for awhile. I should’ve been more productive, but…

        paper, I always want you to have a nice day. Don’t be fussy.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        How come you never give game summaries on ATH for the Cards?

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Because plenty of places already have summaries of games.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        But not *your* summary. And I don’t read those other things.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        Plus, it would give me something else to read since I’m not interested in weighing in on all the PED stuff. Two guaranteed ways to not get me interested in a post: put a PED outrage headline on it or a baby picture.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        Well, sadly….last night, they had the night off…which, you know….sucked. They start a 3 game series vs. Philly tonight, and they get lucky (maybe) and don’t face either Lee or Hamels in the series.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        Did you watch His Heterochromianess win?

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        Nope, the RS/Rays and Yanks/Rangers were both on TV so I flipped back and forth between those…then went to bed early.

        Sad to see Cabrera hobbled. They don’t have a lot of room for error at the moment, they really need him on the field.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        Are you poking me again there?

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        Nope. I don’t like to see any player get hurt….especially ones that are fun to watch play.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        Did you just say you think Migs is fun to watch?


      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        Of course he is….there is no way to watch that guy hit and not just shake your head at how easy he makes it look….he also really enjoys playing and seems to have fun while playing, which generally makes guys more fun to watch.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        I think you just *like* being confusing. I love watching Miggy play, but he’s not really my favorite player (although everyone seems to assume that). Truthfully, I’m still smarting from my breakup with Torii. 😦

        Rondon did not look as good last night. Seriously, balking in a run w/ 2 outs in the 9th? Grrrr. Also, still gotta work on that control. I really am starting to dig this Pena kid. He’s soooooo much more of an asset than Tubby Laird ever was. Much smarter.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        I’m not confusing. I can recognize that Cabrera is a horrible defensive player and still love watching him play and recognize his singular greatness as a hitter.

        Sorry about Torii. Breakups can be hard, I know.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        If you say so.

        You’re on fire today. You’ve dropped some serious funnies, btw. But, you wish you were as trolly as my FB baseball buddies. Somehow, the Braun posts last night turned into Fielder the Buffet Murderer comments, which soon deteriorated into pandas doing unspeakable things to tigers memes. Dudes.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        I don’t remember trying to be funny today.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        My bad. In that case, I did not laugh at some of your serious comments. :)

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:05 PM


      • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        Well, at least I made someone laugh today. My jokes are all dying hard.

      • jwbiii - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:45 AM

        Sorry to string this conversation out, but my 11th grade history teacher had a rather non-traditional approach, as well. No textbook. He served as a staff officer under a Maj. Faubus in WWII and they did not like each other. We also heard about Little Rock and James Meredith.

  5. historiophiliac - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Tonight’s game: Torii Hunter singles, Miggy is intentionally walked, Fielder hits an RBI single that scores Hunter. Braun on suspension. Hrmmm, I’m good on that Brewers’ choice, thanks.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:09 AM

      Even better: Miggy intentionally walked, Fielder walks, V-Mart hits a two-run rbi single.

  6. modellforprez - Jul 22, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    Well obviously they would be better but prince did get a whopping edge in salary the only thing i hope to follow this news is that One Joey the Votto is the next contestant on that summer Jam screen

  7. banpeds - Jul 22, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Should have known, lots of people did!!!

  8. sickcub - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Prince would have had more value even with a larger contract. The Brewers are going to be overpaying Braun through 2020 for the .260 average and 15 homers he’ll average over the remainder of his contract.

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