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First Base Need is There, So Are Big Names

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.

    If there was ever a year to sign a big-name first baseman in the off-season, this would seem to be it.

    Two of the best hitters in the game are on the market, and they also happen to play first base.

    Albert Pujols, who helped lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series victory over your Texas Rangers, had a well-publicized bout with the Cardinals' front office in spring training, similar to the Rangers with Michael Young.

    Unlike Young's case, Pujols' hasn't completely simmered down, though winning a World Series will surely make him a little happier. Since manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement, Pujols has said if the Cardinals replace La Russa with assistant Jose Oquendo, he'll stay. That's not real likely though.

    Prince Fielder, one of the great young superstars in the game, has all but been sent out of Milwaukee already after leading the Brewers to a banner season because the Brewers likely won't be able afford Fielder's free-agent market price.

    Pujols had an "off year", hitting .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs. He's a career .328 hitter with 445 home runs and 1,329 RBIs and is an annual contender for the Triple Crown. He's arguably the greatest hitter of this generation.

    Fielder hit .299 also this season with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs and despite his heft (5-11, 275 pounds) he's a deceptively good first baseman and can run. He's also four years younger than Pujols.

    The Rangers currently have Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Michael Young as first basemen. Moreland is the only natural first baseman but had an awful year at the plate, hitting .259 with a terrible swoon down the stretch. Napoli is too valuable behind the plate and Michael Young is just to the point that he's a defensive liability no matter where you stick him.

    It's clear the Rangers need to upgrade at first base.

    Pujols will almost certainly stay with the Cardinals. He's that city's version of Roger Staubach or Dirk Nowitzki. He'll never leave. That leaves Fielder as the Rangers' best chance to make a big splash at the position, but they will just have to weigh the pros and cons of paying a huge chunk of change to have him during his prime.