As we all know, Prince Fielder signed a mega-deal with the Tigers a few days ago, agreeing to a nine year, $214 million deal. The Brewers knew all along that they couldn’t meet those expectations, and so did all their fans, and everyone else who knows anything about baseball.
Yet earlier today, when I was watching MLB Network, a few of the hosts (don’t remember exactly which ones) were saying that this was a “fall out” and a huge loss for the Brewers. Which is true, especially if the Braun situation turns out for the worse. But, after that, the hosts said that the Brewers were going to miss recently retired utility man and fan favorite Craig Counsell more.
At first, I thought, “what?”
Then, they showed some audio of Corey Hart talking about the matter. When asked about losing a true clubhouse leader in Fielder, Hart replied with something along the lines of, “Fielder is more like family, not really a leader. Counsell is more of a leader, so we may be taking a bigger loss in him.” And I can’t even express how true that is.
Hart didn’t really specify on why Fielder wasn’t a leader, but I’m pretty sure I know why. I paid a lot of attention to Fielder’s attitude towards the end of the season and during the postseason. And, if you did too, you have to admit he was being extremely careless.
Here are a few examples. Towards the end of the season, while the Brewers were losing, he would just sit in the dugout laughing like nothing was going on. I noticed that quite a few times, but the worst example came during the postseason in the NLCS against the Cardinals. Fielder was facing lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski with a few guys on base in the eighth inning (I believe this was during game 5). Rzepczynski, being pretty tough on lefties, promptly got Fielder to chase at a slider in the dirt. But, Fielder’s reaction is what drove me insane. Instead of looking dissatisfied at not at least getting on base, he started laughing and smiled at Rzepczynski.
Sorry, but that isn’t my idea of a “team leader.”
And maybe the Tigers didn’t look at that before signing him. I know the city of Detroit, and that attitude of Fielder’s isn’t going to fly there- especially under a guy like Jim Leyland. So far, the managers Fielder has been under haven’t been quite the caliber of Leyland, as far as tolerance goes. Ned Yost, Ken Macha, and Ron Roenicke combined aren’t as strict as Leyland. So Fielder’s laid back attitude is going to have to go.
Anyway, that’s my opinion on this. I know what Hart meant, even if he didn’t reference it directly.
But, with Counsell gone as well, the Brewers need someone to step up as a team leader. That player is usually a veteran, and the only legitimate veteran the Brewers have as of right now is Randy Wolf. I don’t know if he has what it takes to be a leader, so hopefully a younger guy- like Braun, assuming the situation is resolved- can step up.