Prince Fielder’s untimely comments have officially been blown out of proportion, not to the surprise of Milwaukee Brewers fans. The fact that Fielder would bring up such a sensitive topic when his own team is in the midst of a deeply competitive pennant race won’t bode well with Brewers fans, either.
Will his comments derail what was once a steamrolling Milwaukee ballclub off the path of success? Is there still an outside chance of Fielder resigning with the Brewers in 2012? Is he still a vegetarian? These are all merely insignificant topics for discussion at this point.
Maybe I’m simply speaking out of utter disgust, but here are six reasons the Brewers are better off without Fielder in 2012.
They Won’t Have to Deal with Any More “Beast Mode”
Okay, so it was cool the first 200 times. Now it’s just straight up uncalled for.
More Money to Sign More Players
The MLB winter meetings were extremely kind to the Milwaukee Brewers last year. They were able to acquire Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, among others, to bolster a lagging starting rotation, despite Fielder’s already massive $15.5 million 2011 salary.
What GM Doug Melvin plans to do this offseason will be uncertain at best.
That being said, without Fielder’s contract eating up roughly 20 percent of Milwaukee’s payroll, Melvin will (finally) have the opportunity to test a promising free agent market and/or trade for any number of quality, cost-effective players.
Mat Gamel Won’t Be as Good, But He’ll Be Good Enough
The 26-year-old Gamel was one of the few top-notch prospects the Brewers didn’t deal away in acquiring Greinke or Marcum last offseason. Since being drafted by Milwaukee back in 2005, he has worked his way up through the minors while making a few forgettable MLB appearances along the way.
However, don’t let a few meaningless major-league at-bats get you down. Gamel has tremendous power, accumulating 28 HR, 96 RBI with a .942 OPS in 2011 alone, and will fill the left-handed void in Ron Roenicke’s lineup once Fielder is out the door.
Gamel has arguably been one of the most promising young prospects in the minor leagues over the past few years, and he will be an exceptional talent at the major league level when given a realistic opportunity.
Brewers fans: don’t fret. Help is on the way.
Less Unwanted Media Attention
Don’t get me wrong — Fielder is a once-in-a-lifetime-type player that will likely never be replicated anytime soon. However, the unwanted media attention No. 28 has brought is probably a bit too much for Roenicke’s liking (or mine, for that matter).
By and large, the Brewers have never been a flashy, in-your-face type of organization (Tony La Russa may disagree, but that’s beside the point). They’ve come to be more known as a darkhorse/underdog type of team; probably because they’re MLB’s smallest TV market.
Not to say that I don’t appreciate Fielder’s antics, but there’s no disputing how much redundant media attention Fielder has brought to the Brewers.
It won’t be missed.
The Brewers Can Finally Play Ron Roenicke’s Style of Baseball
Milwaukee’s rookie manager Ron Roenicke is a sure-fire candidate for NL manager of the year. Taking over a team that largely underachieved under Ken Macha each of the past two seasons (80-82 in 2009, 77-85 in 2010), Roenicke has incorporated his aggressive style of baseball into the Brewers this season.
So far, it’s worked handsomely, with exception to Fielder.
Roenicke pushes the limits of base-running on a regular basis, leading to a dramatic improvement in team stolen bases from last season to this season. Collectively, the Brewers stole 81 bases in 2010. In 2011, Milwaukee already has 88 — even with Fielder in the lineup.
From a dynamic base-running standpoint, Fielder isn’t the typical athlete. With him out of the picture next season, the Brewers will be much more lethal on the bases.
They’ll Be Able to Focus on Winning…Not Someone’s Contract Status
The Brewers are in the midst of what could become an all-time great season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean winning is the only thing on their minds.
Clearly, Fielder’s free agency status has impacted everyone associated with the organization as a whole.
That won’t be an issue in 2012.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @alecdopp.