Memo to Prince Fielder: To get respect, you must give respect
The following rant will most likely sound like I'm not a fan of Prince Fielder. In reality, nothing is further from the truth. Prince Fielder is my favorite player in all of baseball. I had his jersey special ordered before he even made his Major League debut. His 50 home runs last year did not surprise me at all. In fact, I think that will be the career norm for the greatest slugger in Brewers' history. And yes, he is that good already.
Prince had his contract renewed by the Brewers on Sunday at the reasonable price of 670k. Many have said it is quite unreasonable for a player that became the youngest player in Major League history to hit 50 home runs. Prince enjoyed nothing short of an amazing season last year and narrowly missed leading the Brewers to their first playoff appearance in 25 years.
Prince said he respected the scale the Brewers used to come up with his salary for 2008, but also indicated he was not happy and that his time would come. His case for his time coming was greatly enhanced when Ryan Howard was awarded $12 million in his first year of arbitration this year. Last year, Howard made 900k, roughly 230k more than Prince will make this season.
A quick look at the facts shows Prince should not have any problem with his salary. Ryan Howard won the Rookie of the Year award in 2005 while Prince finished seventh in the balloting in 2006. Howard followed up his phenomenal rookie season with the MVP award in 2006. Prince finished third in MVP balloting last year. Their overall numbers are very similar but Howard does have the advantage over Prince.
What should the Brewers have done for you, Prince? Give you equal to or more than Ryan Howard? That's just absurd business practice on their behalf. Do you think you're going to hold the Brewers hostage in arbitration over the next few years? Good luck with that one. You have made it clear you don't want to sign a long-term deal right now, so you give the Brewers no other choice than to do what they have. They did the right thing. Prince, I think you are a great player and will love watching you hit massive home runs over the next four years, but don't expect fans or management to show you any loyalty when you don't show any yourself.