By: Kurt Snyder
When you look at the Texas lineup against the Tigers this weekend, how can you not shake your head? It’s definitely the Rangers’ version of ‘Murderers’ Row.’
Hitter after hitter after hitter comes to the plate, all with explosive offensive ability. It’s an impressive lineup with no breather. And their offense has certainly served them well as they continue to lead the West heading into mid-August. But how many teams can say goodbye to a dominant hitter like Prince Fielder and not miss a beat? In fact, how many could say they became a better team without him? Well the Tigers are one and the Rangers are the other.
After the 2013 season, Dave Dombrowski scoured the league for takers (or suckers), looking for anyone who would be willing to take Fielder and at least the majority of his contract, off their hands. Texas was game and excited to have him.
But Prince’s neck issues disabled him right away in his first season in Texas, eventually requiring surgery. And after a comeback season in 2015 when astonishingly the Rangers allowed him to played 158 games, back came the neck issues again this year. And the rest as they say, is history.
But the Rangers won’t miss Prince Fielder. The lineup shows they don’t need him, not in the least. But more importantly, he represented a deal they are going to regret for quite a long time. He represents a pile of money that Texas will keep shoveling into the back of Prince’s pickup until they finish paying him the $96 million more they still owe.
And all because of that neck injury that Prince struggled with early in the 2014 season; well at least that’s when everyone thought it began. When did the injury really start affecting Prince? Well as Prince admitted to Texas in 2014, he experienced neck soreness while still playing for Detroit in 2013. That may certainly explain his ineffectiveness with the Tigers in the playoffs, doesn’t it?
But the Tigers made no mention of any kind of injury issues with Fielder. Maybe he never told them. Maybe he did. Maybe Dave Dombrowski had more than one reason to get out from under his contract. Besides restricting the team from making further moves, it could have been that Dave was concerned about his future health. We will never know.
But what we do know is what happened prior to the trade being solidified. Neither team did physical exams on the players involved; a critical error in judgment by Texas. Why the Tigers didn’t do the same for Kinsler should also be questioned. But hey, the Tigers probably would have taken Kinsler with 2 broken arms and a limp. They were getting out from under Prince Fielder. Amazingly, they had found a team to agree to take him and all his baggage.
Now that Prince is done playing, he has a lot of time to look back on what had been a very exciting career. It was a career highlighted by his immense strength and power at the plate. And, of course, it was ironically known for his durability.
He missed only a couple handfuls of games from 2006-2013; playing all 162 games in 3 consecutive years (2011, 2012 and 2013) until his body could no longer continue the streak in Texas. It was a consecutive game streak of over 540 games. And it was a streak that continued to be honored upon arriving in Detroit, as if he had some kind of chance of challenging Cal Ripken’s record some day.
Prince wanted to play every day, which was admirable, but unnecessary, especially when the Tigers needed him to be as healthy as possible in their quest for a championship.
But when it was all said and done, the chinks in the armor presented themselves in Texas. And the Rangers could have avoided a monster of a monetary mess named Prince Fielder. One physical could have uncovered something that would have kept Prince in Detroit; and what a turn of events that would have been.