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Explaining why Prince Fielder was traded by the Detroit Tigers

Prince FielderThe Detroit Tigers on Wednesday agreed to trade Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler, a deal that Fielder agreed to by waiving his limited no-trade clause.

The Tigers reached the World Series two seasons ago and the ALCS last season with Fielder on the roster. He still had seven years and $168 million left on the original 9-year contract he signed with them before the 2012 season. He also protected Miguel Cabrera in the lineup and gave the Tigers a devastating 1-2 punch in the middle of the order.

So why did Detroit decide to deal Fielder? There are multiple explanations.

1) Fielder had a sub-par season last year. His 25 home runs and .819 OPS were his worst marks since his rookie season. He hit just .225 without driving in a run in 11 postseason games. In 24 career postseason games with the Tigers, Prince only had one home run and three RBIs. Maybe his poor postseason performance convinced the Tigers he was expendable.

2) Fielder’s casual attitude after the Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs didn’t sit well with the organization, per Buster Olney. Let’s just say Prince didn’t take the playoff loss quite as hard as the fans.

“You have to be a man about it,” Fielder said. “I have kids. If I’m sitting around pouting about it, how am I going to tell them to keep their chins or keep their heads up when something doesn’t go their way? It’s over.

“It isn’t really tough, man, for me [to move on]. It’s over. I have kids I have to take care of, so, for me it’s over, bro.”

Told fans may be upset to hear him shake off a disappointing loss so quickly, Fielder said: “They don’t play.”

3) Trading Fielder allows Cabrera to move back to first.

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Detroit Tigers did a Haka dance celebration (GIF)

After winning Game 5 of the ALDS 3-0 over the Oakland A’s on Thursday, the Detroit Tigers gathered at the mound and did a chant and coordinated dance. Many were wondering what exactly the team was doing, and we learned it’s their version of the Haka dance.

The Haka dance is described on Wikipedia as a “traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand.” The New Zealand national rugby team aka “All Blacks” made the dance well known by doing it before competitions. They actually still do.

To see the real Haka dance performed by the All Blacks, watch the video below:

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Detroit Tigers scrimmage against their minor leaguers to stay sharp

The last time the Detroit Tigers made the World Series, they had to wait a week between games after sweeping the A’s in the ALCS. There was speculation that the long layoff contributed to a five-game loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The team had five-or-fewer hits in three of the five games, and committed eight errors in the series, including at least one in each game. The team appears to have learned from their past experience and is trying to make alternate arrangements to stay sharp.

General Manager Dave Dombrowski flew many of the organization’s minor leaguers into Detroit so they could practice and scrimmage with the major league club. The team’s Instructional League ended on Thursday, so the timing worked out perfectly. The only question was whether the team would fly to Lakeland, Fla., to play against the minor leaguers, or remain in Detroit. The team decided to stay in Detroit and luckily the weather cooperated and allowed them to practice on Sunday.

“Any time you can see live pitching, it keeps you fresh. Whether you are hitting the ball or just watching. I like that we’re doing. This is a very smart thing to do. Get work in and not sit around and wait,” outfielder Quintin Berry told the Detroit Free Press.

Dombrowski reportedly began talking about making such arrangements when the team went up 2-0 in the ALCS against the Yankees, but he didn’t want the news to become public because they hadn’t won the series yet. Planning ahead appears to have paid off for them. And with the St. Louis Cardinals up 3-2 in the NLCS against the Giants, Tigers fans can’t help but wonder if there will be a 2006 rematch. The only difference is that Detroit should be better prepared for the series this time.

Prince Fielder Prefers to Bat in Front of Miguel Cabrera in Tigers’ Lineup

No matter how they order it, the Detroit Tigers will have one of the best 3-4 lineup combinations in baseball. They already had Miguel Cabrera batting fourth last season behind Magglio Ordonez. Mags won’t be back, but they are replacing him with Prince Fielder.

During an interview with ESPN’s Karl Ravech Thursday, Prince said he’d prefer to bat in front of Miggy. He likely prefers to bat third because the guy hitting in front has the protection and generally sees better pitches.

Unfortunately for Prince, it does not look like he’ll get his preference. Tigers manager Jim Leyland already has a batting lineup in mind:

    1. Austin Jackson
    2. Brennan Boesch
    3. Miggy Cabrera
    4. Prince Fielder
    5. Delmon Young
    6. Alex Avila
    7. Jhonny Peralta
    8. Andy Dirks, Clete Thomas, or Don Kelly
    9. Ryan Rayburn

Outside of Cabrera and Prince, it’s not too intimidating, but they should have enough support to put up some good numbers. The thing that worries me about the rest of their lineup is that many of their guys had career seasons last year (Avila, Peralta, Boesch) and I’d be worried about a natural dropoff in production.

Miguel Cabrera Likely to Play Third Base, Prince Fielder First Base for Tigers

The Detroit Tigers shocked the baseball world by stepping in to sign Prince Fielder Tuesday. The deal is as hefty as the bulky first baseman — 9 years for $214 million, according to reports. The terms of the contract, as well as the structure of the Tigers’ current roster, makes the signing a surprise.

Detroit already has Miguel Cabrera signed for four more years with $86 million remaining on his contract. He played outfield and third base for the Marlins, but has played first base almost exclusively for the Tigers. Cabrera reportedly told a Venezuelan newspaper he expects to play third base to accommodate Prince, and a few other reporters confirmed those plans.

On top of Cabrera and Prince manning the corners, the Tigers will have Victor Martinez back after next season. Martinez’s torn ACL, which took him out for the season, is probably the reason the Tigers jumped into the Fielder contract talks. Victor is set to make $25 million from 2013-14 and he was already DHing most of the time with Alex Avila catching. If Miggy can’t work at third base, the Tigers will have three sluggers with only two positions to play them in a few years. I suppose they will wait for that time to come before worrying.

The good news for Tigers fans is that they will have one of the strongest power lineups in baseball. The bad news is they may have more sluggers than they have positions on the field. Oh yeah, they also have Prince signed until his 36. Hopefully for their sake there is an opt out clause.

Tigers Could Play Miguel Cabrera at Third if they Reach World Series

Tigers manager Jim Leyland isn’t predicting his team will reach the World Series this year, he’s just preparing for a best-case scenario. On Wednesday, Leyland had first baseman Miguel Cabrera take ground balls at third before the team’s game against Kansas City. The reasoning behind the move is pretty simple: Leyland wants to put his best offensive lineup on the field even when they lose the DH in a National League park.

Detroit’s regular lineup features Alex Avila at catcher, Cabrera at first, and Victor Martinez DHing. Those three players have been Detroit’s best hitters this year.

Unfortunately, during interleague play games they would routinely lose one of those hitters. Often times Avila would catch, and either Cabrera or Victor would play first or sit out. Martinez caught a few games to keep both his and Cabrera’s bats in the lineup. They even played Avila at third once to keep the offense stacked.

Moving Cabrera to third for a few games may seem strange, but it actually makes sense. You may recall that Miggy played third and left field when he was first called up by the Marlins in 2003. He even played two full seasons at the hot corner in ’05 and ’06, and the Tigers played him there for 14 games in 2008. He may seem content as an immobile first baseman these days, but once upon a time he was a butcher at third and in the outfield. Detroit fans should only wish to see a repeat of those days in the coming weeks.

Miguel Cabrera Avoided Alcohol During Tigers’ Celebration

Friday was a joyous day for the Detroit Tigers who celebrated winning their first division title since 1987. Champagne was flying, alcohol was consumed, and there was plenty of hugging and back slapping between the players. But one player who did not partake in the celebration was Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers first baseman sat by himself, according to MLive.com, holding a bottle of water in his hand.

Cabrera, you may recall, has battled with alcohol abuse the past few years. In 2009, he infamously went out drinking while the Tigers were battling for the division and he got into a major fight with his wife. He showed up to the team’s game with fresh cuts and bruises on his face. Then in February, Cabrera made a fool of himself during a DUI arrest and the video made him look even worse.

The troubled first baseman pledged to clean up his life and it appears as if he’s taken that vow seriously.

Even though the Tigers ordered non-alcoholic champagne for Cabrera, he opted not to partake. Perhaps he’s learned that avoiding alcohol entirely is the safest approach. Maybe he knows the Tigers will have much more celebrating to do this season so this was no time to go crazy.

Cabrera has been one of the most valuable players for the Tigers this season. Maybe Detroit will consider doing what the Rangers did for Josh Hamilton last season in a similar situation. After all, you win as a team so you should want to celebrate as a team, right?