Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 23, 2013

Dennis Chase: Is Fielder trade just start for Tigers?

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — So I’m at the Post Office early Friday morning when I hear two men talking stats.

Baseball stats.

“Talking about the Prince Fielder trade?” I inquire.

“I can understand that one,” one said. “But re-signing Phil Coke? He was horrible last season.”

No argument there. I, too, thought the Tigers would cut ties with the left-handed reliever after he went 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA in 2013.

The bottom line, though, is that the $1.9 million deal is reportedly “non-guaranteed” so the Tigers are not out much if Coke can’t regain the form he demonstrated in the 2012 playoffs.

Enough about Coke, though. What about Fielder? What about Ian Kinsler, the second baseman the Tigers acquired in the deal? What about future moves?

I don’t have a problem with the Fielder trade. He had a down season at the plate by his standards — and he bombed in the ALCS. I know some were bothered by his nonchalant responses to questions after the ALCS, but I wouldn’t go so far as to question his desire to win. There were reports Fielder was dealing with personal issues during the season and, if so, that could partly explain his drop off.

I think Fielder will respond with a big season in Texas.

I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on Kinsler. I know he was a 30-30 player (home runs and stolen bases) as recently as 2011, but last season he was 13-15 guy. I think the Tigers would be thrilled if he hit .275 with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs and played a solid second base.

When I think of second basemen I think of Boston’s Dustin Pedroia. He’s a good hitter, good fielder, but what I like is his savvy, his leadership skills. The Red Sox really seem to rally around him. He’s the lightning rod on that team. I didn’t think Boston was the most talented team last season, but they may have been the most close-knit and driven — and I think Pedroia deserves a lot of credit for that. I would hope Kinsler could bring some of those intangibles to Detroit.

This deal was made for one reason, money. The Tigers were able to shed a lot of payroll and it gives them options down the road. So what’s in store? There’s been a lot of talk about the Tigers hitting the free agent market, looking for a left-handed bat to replace Fielder. Names like Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran have been mentioned. I don’t know if the Tigers want to get locked into another long-term deal at this point, especially if they intend to re-sign Max Scherzer and extend Miguel Cabrera in another year.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers and Scherzer go through arbitration — give the pitcher what he deserves for last season — and see how 2014 goes. Then take it from there.

I think the Tigers will trade to fill a hole in the lineup, especially in the outfield. Miami has always been a willing partner. Giancario Stanton, anyone?