Milwaukee's Prince will (finally) get paid a princely sum. Prince Fielder will sign a 2-year, $18 million deal (if he has not already done so), according to JSOnline.com's Tom Haudricourt. Haudricourt speculates that the first year will be around $7 million--the mid-point of the arbitration figures, while Prince will earn around $11 million in 2010.
My take--Prince's performance suffered in the first half of last season, perhaps, in part, in having is contract renewed by Brewers' GM Doug Melvin for just $670,000--less than the $1 million he was hoping for. With a 2-year deal in hand, Prince may come into Maryvale with a greater sense of confidence, now realizing he is getting paid his fair market value...plus will be able to put that outstanding tax issue behind him once and for all.
Meanwhile, Haudricourt reported, in another JSOnline.com article, that Brewers' owner Mark Attanasio went on the record stating that the Brewers' payroll--with the budgeted amounts for Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks still pending--will already reach his budgeted amount...meaning that the addition of a free agent starter is not likely. This would mean that the '09 edition of the Brewers would be relying on starters Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Dave Bush and, probably, Seth McClung to carry the workload.
My take...in hindsight, the Brewers probably could have gambled with Tony Gwynn, Jr., as their starting centerfielder and used the $10 million that they are paying Mike Cameron towards a #1 starter, especially since Gwynn bats left-handed, and Melvin and Macha are dying for lefty hitters in the line-up.
Attanasio did hint that this tight budget now leaves room for adding another player later in the year should the Brewers find themselves in a playoff race...but that is sort of like saying that a runner that starts 100 feet behind the competition will get an energy drink once he catches up to everybody...if he catches up to everybody.
At any rate, new skipper Ken Macha and new pitching coach Bill Castro will have to get the most out of their starters.