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Detroit Tigers links: Terrible cartoons, Kinsler's decline and radioactive contracts

The Tigers continue to get praise from the baseball pundits and Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder may or may not be in decline. These stories and more in today's Afternoon Prowl.

Rick Yeatts

A melancholy Samara breaks out her signature Terrible Cartoons in response to the Fielder trade.

Samara Pearlstein, Roar of the Tigers

I am going to miss Prince Fielder. Not Postseason 2013 Prince. But the fun, huggable, mysterious-handshake-doing Prince, with his desire to always run hard down the line, even when it meant jettisoning his batting helmet into center field with a slide. The Prince Fielder who went into a potentially terrible situation, with the shadow of his father still looming large in Detroit, with as good a will as one could ever hope for. The Prince Fielder who seemed to have fun on the field; the nacho-stealing Prince Fielder. The Prince Fielder who saw a Tigers fan hanging out quietly behind the dugout during batting practice on a cool July day in Boston and went out of his way to go up and ask if she wanted anything signed.

NBC Sports'  Joe Posnanski calls the trade a win for Detroit, if only to get out from under a 'radioactive' contract.

Fielder For Kinsler
Joe Posnanski, Joe Blogs

It makes sense on many levels for both teams, and it’s a risk on some level for both sides, and that’s what makes it a fun trade.

But I think the Tigers won the deal. They had to throw in $30 million to make it happen, but I still think they won. I think shoring up that infield so it isn’t a sieve, I think having some spending flexibility to work on actual weaknesses, I think Kinsler’s solid all-around play will all help.

Also, I think that the years and money left on Fielder’s contract are radioactive.

Ex-Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg plays the 'Fielder's laid-back attitude doesn't play in Detroit' card.

For Tigers, Prince Fielder trade shows team's win-now mentality
Michael Rosenberg, Sports Illustrated

He was awful in this past postseason (after being pretty bad in previous postseasons) and worse, he looked tentative and embarrassed. It was an ugly downward spiral, culminating in his ugly bellyflop at third base in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Fielder then gave a series of bizarre answers after the Tigers were eliminated, such as: "It's not tough for me. It's over. I've got kids to take care of ... For me, it's over, bro."

It's great that Fielder's kids are more important to him than baseball games. But this was an incredibly foolish thing to say.

Peter Gammons believes the trade is a must-win-now deal for both franchises.

Rangers, Tigers deal; the result of a perfect storm
Peter Gammons, Daily Gammons

In many ways, this was the perfect storm for two franchises that feel that the time has come today to win it all. The Rangers are still stinging from their classic 2011 World Series one-strike-away loss to the Cardinals. The Tigers have gotten to the World Series and ALCS the last two years, and while the series loss to Boston was one of the most intense series in recent memory, the March expectation was a parade past the Mariners’ Cathedral.

Mr. Allison Hagen adds Prince Fielder to the list of free agent contracts which led to buyer's regret.

The Tigers and Rangers trade is just as much about past mistakes as it is about current need
Craig Calcaterra. Hardball Talk

The Tigers signed Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal. His trade clearly indicates that they don’t think he’s worth that now, even if they thought so two years ago. That kind of regret over big contracts is pretty widespread these days. The Angels are likely wishing they hadn’t given big, long deals to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The Yankees clearly regret the Alex Rodriguez deal. Joe Mauer‘s deal runs through 2018 and, given that he’s no longer a catcher, it can’t make the Twins brass feel great. Mark Teixeira‘s deal is a drag. Matt Kemp might crumble into dust before he’s halfway into his $160 million contract.  The list goes on and on.

Ian Kinsler is in decline? Don't rush to judgment, says Dave Cameron.

Ian Kinsler as Shane Victorino
Dave Cameron, Fangraphs

I think there are too many examples that run counter to that idea to take it at face value. It’s easy to look at Kinsler and see a mediocre hitter who is getting worse. It was easy to look at Victorino and see the same thing a year ago. Or any other number of similar players over the past few years. I don’t see a lot of evidence that these early 30s declines actually do spell impending doom for these players, though. Good contact/gap power guys don’t just stop hitting after they turn 30. Defensive and baserunning value might peak early, but it doesn’t evaporate after a guy leaves his twenties.

Ian Kinsler is in decline? The signs are there, says Tony Paul.

On surface, Ian Kinsler and Tigers a good fit, but there are red flags
Tony Paul, The Detroit News

There are concerns, though. He’s a career .304 hitter in Arlington, and .242 everywhere else. Comerica Park in Detroit, particularly, has been trouble for Kinsler, who’s hit just .200 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 162 plate appearances there.

Jonah Keri says it's extremely complicated, but the trade makes a great deal of sense for both the Tigers and Rangers.

Why the Prince Fielder–Ian Kinsler Megadeal Is a Smart Trade for Both the Tigers and Rangers
Jonah Keri, Grantland

The worst part of any big-money, multiyear deal tends to come at the finish, when teams are often paying dead money to a player near the end of the road. Even if you acknowledge that Fielder is younger than Kinsler, and even if you’re willing to overlook Fielder’s physique and the fate that befell big, barrel-chested sluggers like Mo Vaughn or Cecil Fielder once they got past their early thirties, this remains a smart move for the Tigers, who at the very least get out of one big-salary season given that Fielder has three more years left on his deal than Kinsler does.

Buster Olney lists the Tigers as the biggest winner of the blockbuster trade.

Winners and losers of Kinsler-Fielder deal
Buster Olney, ESPN

When teams sign megadeals like the nine-year, $214 million contract that Prince Fielder got in January 2012, executives will privately tell you that their reasonable hope is for a few good years of elite production before the gradual decline begins and the final years of the deal turn ugly.

The Tigers already may have seen Fielder reach that crossroads from elite player into something less in 2013, in the second year of the contract. Fielder’s OPS dropped 121 points last summer, and Daniel Nava, Brandon Belt, Mike Napoli and Marlon Byrd were among the 36 players who posted a higher OPS. Fielder’s walk/strikeout rate plummeted from 1.01 in 2012 to 0.64. Remember: Hitting is what Fielder is supposed to do well.

It would figure the ever contrary Drew Sharp calls the Tigers 'lucky.' But I agree the backlash to Fielder's post season was over-the-top, there was plenty of blame to go around.

Tigers lucky they found a way to unload Prince Fielder's burdensome contract
Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press

When Fielder folded in the playoffs, not recording a single RBI, he effectively became the convenient public scapegoat. He came across as detached and indifferent. It was amazing how quickly he morphed from panacea to pariah simply because he didn’t outwardly share the fans’ pain. It wasn’t fair considering the personal torment in Fielder’s life last season, going through a divorce that was no doubt already difficult enough without the public learning about it.

Dave Dombrowski makes the honor roll.

Grade the trade: Ian Kinsler to Tigers, Prince Fielder to Rangers
Dayn Perry, CBS Sports

Equally as important, this deal allows the Tigers to shift Miguel Cabrera across the diamond, which should help keep the best hitter in the world healthier in 2014 and beyond. By moving Cabrera, making Fielder go away and adding Kinsler to the fold, the previously awful Detroit infield defense is now vastly improved, no matter who winds up manning third.

Prince Fielder as the next Josh Hamilton.

Will Prince Fielder flop like Josh Hamilton?
Gerry Fraley, Dallas Morning News

They also cautioned that Fielder appears to be on the downside of his career at age 29 and will be hard-pressed to be productive for the remaining seven years of his contract.

"There are a lot of holes in that swing, pitches that he wasn’t getting to anymore," an American League scout said. "He was the third bat in that lineup this year. [Miguel] Cabrera and [Victor] Martinez were both tougher outs."

More Roars

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Who should the Tigers try to trade during the hot stove season?

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Essay: Jim Leyland’s legacy in Detroit

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