The same day Moneyball received 6 Oscar nominations and Prince Fielder received a 9 year $214M deal from the Tigers, I can’t help but think back to the succinct, rather explicit description Beane and the A’s had for Prince.
“Prince is too fat even for the Oakland A’s”
Well, 230 home runs, 3 All Star appearances, 2 playoff berths, and countless memories later, the Brewers were the ones living large by drafting the big lefty. Just as Beane and the A’s knew they would have to part ways with all star slugger Jason Giambi, Brewers fans have always known Fielder would one day be wearing a different jersey. It still sucks, for lack of a better word, to lose Fielder. Nevertheless, all Brewers fans should feel grateful to have watched Prince turn the franchise from (at the best of times) a baseball purgatory, into an exciting contender. He became the youngest player in Major League history to hit 50 HR’s in ’07, helping the Crew finish only 2 GB of the NL Central title. (With a pitching staff that featured Jeff Suppan, Claudio Vargas, and Dave Bush, mind you.) He hit 2 inside the park home runs. He hit high, towering moonshots normally reserved for BP. He played with a passion rarely found in today’s player, having missed only 13 games since 2006. Pitchers were afraid to pitch to him, lending to his .409 OBP over the past 3 seasons, 2nd in the NL. (And why shouldn’t they be afraid. I mean, he did try to barge into the Dodgers locker room just to “speak with” Guillermo Mota.) This passion made Prince unique and endeared him to the city of Milwaukee.
There are so many great memories from Prince’s tenure, but to see him staying longer than anyone to hug fans, sign autographs, and celebrate the 2011 NL Central title with Brewers faithful will be my lasting memory of Prince. The Brewers must now move forward, using the lessons made popular in Moneyball to make up for Prince’s absence. But for Prince, let’s wish him the best. As Uecker once sarcastically predicted, “He’ll hit 900 to 1000 home runs in his career.” Here’s to hoping he comes close.