Fraley: Brewers should trade Prince Fielder

Gerry Fraley of SportingNews.com suggests that the Brewers trade Prince Fielder before he (possibly) wins arbitration and soaks the club for millions.

Prince FielderTheir argument against Fielder would be interesting and potentially incendiary.

Would the Brewers mention Fielder’s deteriorating defense?

Fielder and Howard each have 31 errors during the last two seasons. That is the highest total by a major-league first baseman since Kevin Young had 40 errors with Pittsburgh in 1999-2000.

(The legendary Dick “Dr. Strangeglove” Stuart had 53 errors at first base with Boston in 1963-64.)

Would the Brewers bring up Fielder’s increasing weight and decreasing power?

Fielder adopted a vegetarian diet last season, but he seemed to expand while his power shrunk. Fielder went from 50 homers, 119 RBIs and a .618 slugging percentage in 2007 to 34 homers, 102 RBIs and a .507 slugging percentage last season.

Fielder is a sensitive slugger, especially when his weight is an issue. He can sit in on the hearing as the Brewers make their case. If Fielder was angry when the club exercised its right of renewal last season, what would he be like after listening to a club-built case against him?

Melvin has the payroll flexibility to keep Fielder this season, even if he wins a big award. The Brewers want to build on last season’s success. Trading Fielder now or during the season would send a bad message to the growing fan base.

A year from now, the situation will be different.

Fielder and Boras have rejected one proposal from the Brewers on a multi-year contract and seem set on going into free agency after the 2011 season. The Brewers would be better served moving Fielder then rather than letting him get closer to the walk-away season. Milwaukee is on the clock.

Most clubs are in constant search for more offensive pop, so trading a young slugger heading into the prime of his career doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface. But as Fraley points out, the Brewers will be in a bind very soon because of Fielder’s contract situation (Boras is going to rape Milwaukee) and they could get a couple of arms in the right deal.

If the Brewers make a move now before Fielder shows up for camp (no doubt out of shape) and trade him for a starter (Jake Peavy?), then they could sign Adam Dunn as a stopgap until Mat Gamel (his natural position is 3B, but he’s rumored to be brutal defensively) is major-league ready. Just an idea…

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