Catching Fielder could be Orioles' big play

Catching Fielder could be Orioles' big play
September 20, 2011, 6:20 pm
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By Matt Palmer


A Sports Illustrated report says the Orioles could be the front-runner for the services of All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder during the off-season.

Jon Heyman wrote in the piece that Fielder was resigned to leaving Milwaukee and the Orioles were not sold on Mark Reynolds or Chris Davis as their first basemen of the future. Given the choice between Fielder and Reynolds, most general managers would choose Fielder every time.

Fielder has 34 home runs this season and 112 runs driven in. Reynolds also has 34 home runs, but 80 RBIs. He has 182 strikeouts and a .219 batting average as well. Fielder is batting .296 and has 79 fewer strikeouts than Reynolds.

Its a no-brainer, especially as the Orioles try to shuffle and find a place for Reynolds, who flamed out at third base by setting a team record for errors. Fielder has half of Reynolds' 29 errors with 14. Reynolds has found hope at first base, though.

Perhaps Reynolds could become the team's designated hitter and bat in the fifth spot behind a cleanup-hitting Fielder next season.

All of this seems so easy if Peter Angelos opens his wallet, right? Wrong. The Orioles don't know where they are going with their front office, especially if Andy MacPhail steps down as president of baseball operations. The team is in a rebuilding mode and Fielder has tasted the playoffs before. Why would he want to spend his late 20s and early 30s, his prime, banking on a team that has not won in 14 seasons?

It didn't work out for guys like Miguel Tejada, Derrek Lee or Vladimir Guerrero. Of those three, only Tejada arrived in his prime. Fielder's chance of getting to the postseason and beyond depends on what happens with his free agency.

How can he hit the market and gamble on the Orioles? If he does, no one around here is going to be complaining. Indeed, it'll be a major step in the right direction and could change the team's lineup dramatically, but it's not a done deal, because players like hometown players Mark Teixeira have rejected the Orioles' money in the past. Maybe money is enough for Fielder, who has made the Brewers relevant during his stay in Milwaukee.

The more stories circulate around baseball that a team like the Orioles are a frontrunner for someones services, the more it disappoints the fans when it doesnt materialize. Perhaps Fielders agent, Scott Boras, is feeling good about his interactions with the Orioles lately.

If Fielder does sign with the Orioles this winter, the team's future will look a whole lot brighter.