Dave Cameron thinks Mariners should avoid Fielder
Nov 16, 2011, 2:46 PM | Updated: 3:53 pm
By Shannon Drayer
Dave Cameron joined “Brock and Salk” today to talk about why he doesn’t think Prince Fielder would be a good fit for the Mariners at this time.
Cameron’s opinion may not be popular with a number of Mariners fans and he explained his thinking.
“It’s not that I don’t want Prince Fielder, it’s that I don’t want Prince Fielder at $25 million a year for the next six to seven years,” he said. “I would happily take Prince Fielder at the right contract, but I think the price that he is going to get with Scott Boras as his agent, it just doesn’t make sense for the Mariners given the amount of holes they need to fill and amount of money they actually spend on players every year.”
Salk argued at that the biggest hole the Mariners need to fill right now is the empty seats at Safeco Field. In his eyes, Fielder fills needs on multiple levels.
“He makes them intriguing, makes them interesting and I think he helps them win in addition,” Salk said.
Cameron agreed that the team needed to stem the attendance fallout but pointed to studies that show fans do not come to the ballpark to see an individual player, they come to see wins.
So the question is, where do you put your money if you are the Mariners?
I have to interject here because there is a huge unknown that factors in to this discussion. Never mind how much Fielder will cost — and with reports today of a nine-year, $230 million dollar offer for Albert Pujols, Cameron’s $25 million for six to seven years could be substantially off — but the question remains, what will the Mariners have to spend?
Under their current budget it would be hard to find a way to afford Fielder. The only way I can see the Mariners able to make a legitimate run at Fielder without losing Ichiro or Felix Hernandez would be if ownership significantly upped the budget for this one player. But let’s say they have $25 million to spend. What do they need to do?
Salk would give that money to Fielder to both put fans in seats and help the team win. Cameron doesn’t buy into the star player increasing attendance belief and said Fielder’s value to the Mariners would be what he would do to help them win much more than it would be to bring in revenue through tickets sold.
Furthermore, he believes that if that money was spent in one place, regardless of the caliber of player, the Mariners would not improve enough to be contenders because they have too many holes that would go unfilled.
“I think you are looking at Prince Fielder as about a five-win player (in terms of WAR), so realistically you have to look at (Mike) Carp or (Justin) Smoak, one is going to probably going to go away or get at least slightly reduced time. Those guys aren’t zero WAR guys, they have some value,” Cameron said. “So you look at upgrading from Carp or Smoak to Prince Fielder maybe four wins, maybe five if he has a really good year.
“It is not anything to sneeze at but it is certainly not enough to make the Mariners as good as the Rangers or to make them a real contender where they can expect those four or five wins will put them over the top.”
Salk argued and I would agree that Smoak or Carp would not just go away. I believe that, if necessary, the Mariners are prepared to play Carp in the outfield every day. Cameron thought that with Fielder and nothing else there would be too many question marks remaining.
“I would look at it as a poker player going all in,” he said of the possibility of Jack Zduriencik going after Fielder. “I am not anti-Prince Fielder. As a player, I think he could really help the Mariners and they would be a more interesting team to watch, but I think they would be betting on Justin Smoak is going to hit, Mike Carp is going to hit and these pitching prospects are going pan out, because if they don’t then we are not going to have enough talent to put around these guys and we are going to have Felix Hernandez and Prince Fielder and a 70-win team.”
So what would Cameron do? He is very high on the possibility of a Joey Votto trade somewhere down the line but in the meantime he would like to see the Mariners use the money available to shore up positions of need.
“I think you can take the money you would give to Prince and go get some pretty good major league players in free agency that may not require the same commitment,” Cameron said. “Someone like Ryan Doumit, who is certainly not a classic (No.) 3-4 hitter, but is a switch-hitter with some power who could help this lineup in multiple positions. Chris Capuano …”
Salk cut him off there. While understanding the rationale, he thought the fans would be underwhelmed.
“This team needs help right now from a Prince Fielder interest/intrigue standpoint and I don’t think if you are Jack Zduriencik you can afford to bet the farm on Ryan Doumit, Chris Capuano and hope that Mike Carp hits,” Salk said. “I would rather bet my farm on Prince and hope that at least he can do what he has always done in the past and hope that Mike Carp hits.”
Fielder, I think, would be the obvious solution if you had that money. The question that wasn’t asked was this: what would be better long-term? Fielder plus nothing or adding what Cameron sees as multiple quality parts to be better prepared when another Fielder-type player becomes available?
What do you do? What is the smartest, long-term move in your eyes? What impact do you think a Fielder signing would have on attendance? Is that enough to get you to the ballpark? Good conversation.