As I sit packed and ready to leave for Lakeland, Florida, to cover the Tigers for five days, I keep double-checking that all our equipment is ready to roll. The Sports Talk 60 crew will be filming all five days to get two shows on tape for airing. Is this really work when one starts to think of the signing of Prince Fielder? This is truly one of the hottest stories in spring training. Here is a young man they simply call Prince. The first-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2002 amateur draft, Fielder made his major-league debut in June of 2005. A young man who has hit 230 home runs and batted in 656. Without hesitation, he will move into the first base position for the Detroit Tigers. Last year’s batting champ, Miguel Cabrera, will go back to a position he used to play and protect the other corner.
For the first time in years, the Tigers have something they’ve been lacking: power at the corners. To win games, you must have power on the corners and a strong defense up the middle. The Tigers have Austin Jackson patrolling center field and Alex Avila calling the pitches behind the plate. This is a team that could find itself in a World Series in 2012. The combo of Fielder and Cabrera will be a three-four punch that will send baseballs flying out of many ballparks throughout the league.
Tigers fans will remember that Prince grew up with the Tigers. His father, Cecil, played here from 1990-1996. In 1991, Cecil hit an amazing 51 home runs for the Tigers and then followed up the next season with 44. It was then that young Prince made a name for himself with his prodigious power displays during batting practice at the old Tiger Stadium. His relationship with his father is now strained, but a hero is here to play in a place he has called home.
What else can you say about this team? Oh, the pitching staff. The American League Cy Young and MVP is back. Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello should be a formidable starting staff. The fifth spot will go to one of five young arms the Tigers have. Coming over from the champion St. Louis Cardinals is Octavio Dotel. He joins a solid core of Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and the closer Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde. In Detroit, he is the 46/46 man.
So, on this eve of our trip to Lakeland, the ST60 team — Kevin, Paul, and our cameraman Mike — is ready to get our bird’s eye view of the new phenom Prince. We are ready to formulate our predictions of the Tigers’ season and the other clubs. It will be an action-packed five days for the crew. I look forward to sending some great stories for everyone here at TTFB to read. See ya soon.