You've got to love almost everything about Prince Fielder.
He's jolly. He plays hard. He can hit. He can field. Once he gets his momentum going he can even run a little bit. He keeps his mouth shut. He's a good citizen.
Who cares if he doesn't love his daddy? That's about the only stain on his record. He has the potential to become a big, big baseball star.
The question that faces us is whether Prince Fielder is too big for the Milwaukee Brewers.
There is, of course, no simple answer to that question. But a look at the complex factors that lead to an answer has to begin with what you think about the Milwaukee Brewers.
There are basically three groups of baseball teams. The top tier are the guys who can spend themselves out of trouble and into contention. Think Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Phillies. The next tier are the teams that have to watch what they spend, but aren't afraid to bite off a big chunk if they think it will result in success.
The Brewers are members of that group along with the Cardinals, Rockies and Blue Jays. Then you've got the bottom tier, where spending money is about as popular as getting a terminal case of cancer. The Pirates, Padres and Nationals are part of that group.
The Brewers are what I call a Lightning-In-A-Bottle team; a good team. Competitive. And if everything happens to jell at the right time, they could win a World Series. But it would take a remarkable set of circumstances for that to happen. They need career years out of surprising players. They need to be healthy. They need to avoid controversy. They need to hit, field and run better than expected.
Teams like the Brewers go to work every day hoping for just that set of circumstances. They scout talent and examine payrolls and try to make decisions based on common, fiscal and baseball sense.
Which brings us back to Fielder.
He's one of the best power hitters in baseball. He's becoming one of the best hitters in the game, too. He's 25 years old. And after the 2011 season, he will be a free agent. Which brings us to the question of what to do about Prince Fielder.
He's going to command huge money. He might well be in the $20 million a year range over five or six years. Especially if he has a great season this year, those numbers are not out of the question. It makes you catch your breath, doesn't it?
Let's say for a minute that the Brewers win the sweepstakes and keep Fielder at something around $20 million a year. That's about one-fourth of their total payroll -- wrapped up in one guy -- which doesn't leave much room for anything else. There are no huge untapped revenue streams for the Brewers. About the only place they have flexibility is in how much they spend.
So, think about it for a minute. Does a Milwaukee Brewers team with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and a bunch of other guys make your heart beat faster? Do you think that's a team that can make a run at a World Series?
The answer is open to debate. But I think that the way you answer that question says a lot about what you think about the Milwaukee Brewers.
If you think they are a team that should contend every year and expect that they will always be in the hunt for a playoff berth, then you say of course you have to sign Fielder. Both Braun and Fielder are better when they are both in the lineup.
But if you believe the Brewers are trying to catch lightning in a bottle and need a minor miracle to win a World Series against the big boys, then you say it's okay to trade Fielder. God knows what you could get for him, but it would certainly be a lot of talent.
Now, I wouldn't be surprised if the Brewers brass tried to sign Fielder, no matter how much it takes. They want people to think they are one of the big boys, too.
But they aren't. And unless they do something spectacular this year, I think this team gets a lot closer to the World Series without Prince Fielder in the lineup.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.