We continue our look at things to look for in Maryvale:
#8. Will Prince Fielder return to his 2007 form now that he’s financially secure?
Last year, Prince had his contract renewed by the Brewers for $670,000–and the Big Guy was not happy about it, complaining about it in Spring Training to the media…. His 2008 numbers suffered as well, especially in the first half–hitting just .250 in April en route to a .276/.372/.507/.879, with a 34 HR’s and 102 RBI’s…down from .288/.395/.618/1.013 and 50 HR’s and 119 RBI’s in ’07. Often, a player’s numbers go down after signing a multi-year deal…could Prince’s go up in ’09 as his $1 million bonus should take care of the back taxes issue that surfaced from his signing bonus, and he will be able to finally enjoy the spoils of his success?
#7. Will Corey Hart have exorcised his second half demons?
While Fielder had a strong second half, Corey Hart fell apart down the stretch…hitting just .239 after the All-Star break, after hitting .289 before the break (and an even more dismal .173 in September). Hart is a shoo-in to make the ’09 roster and to start on opening day in right field…but where he winds up in new skipper Ken Macha’s batting order will be based in large part on how well he hits in spring training…a good Cactus League, and Hart will likely hit in the #5 spot…if his struggles continue, Hart may wind up back a spot or two until he can prove himself.