12/15/11 3:00 PM EST
Prince would reign in Rangers' regal lineup
By Mitch Williams / MLB.com
If I'm Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers, I would do whatever I can to have Fielder hitting fourth or fifth in an already potent lineup. If the opposing team is starting a right-hander, I would hit Fielder fourth behind Josh Hamilton. This will certainly get Hamilton more pitches to hit. And if a left-hander starts against them, manager Ron Washington could split the two left-handed hitters with Adrian Beltre. Adding Fielder to this lineup would make it the best in baseball -- hands down.
The Angels have added Albert Pujols with what I consider a foolish contract in terms of length. As a businessman, there is no way I would sign a 31-year old man to a 10-year contract. There is no way the Angels will get the production in the last five years of this contract that they will in the first five.
That being the case, Ryan has said he doesn't want to hand out any contracts of that length. So how does he get Fielder to sign with the Rangers? Simple: Take a five-year deal that will pay him what Pujols is going to make or maybe a little more yearly to compensate him for taking the shorter-term deal. And then trust that he will go out over the next five years and put up the numbers he always has, becoming a more attractive free agent again at age 32. By then, the market will have changed again, and he could sign another five-year deal that would pay him close to $30 million a year.
By signing Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Angels have put themselves a notch ahead of the Rangers in the American League West. The Halos have the more proven pitching staff, but if Texas signs Fielder, there would not be a lineup in the Majors that could approach the numbers that group could produce. And when you have that kind of lineup, it can take the heat off a young pitching staff.
The Rangers have some great young arms in the rotation in Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz, plus two veterans in Colby Lewis and Scott Feldman.
Nevertheless, signing Fielder would make Texas the odds-on favorite to win the AL West and, in my opinion, the World Series.
My advice to Prince is: Trust your ability and take the shorter-term deal to go to a team that can win a World Series, and know that even bigger money will be waiting for you when you reach the end of that deal. You will have at least one World Series ring, possibly more. And in that ballpark, you might hit 60 home runs.
Mitch Williams is an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.