x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Brewers supporters have every right to be worried

The Milwaukee Brewers may be enjoying success on the field, but it is not going so well off it.

The Milwaukee Brewers are about to win their first division title in 30 years, but there's little joy around Miller Park these days.

For one thing, the Brewers are limping to the finish line with six losses in their last eight games. For another, reliever Francisco Rodriguez has been complaining about his role in the bullpen, creating some unrest.

And finally, there's the strong likelihood that the slugger Prince Fielder is headed for free agency, a fact confirmed by Fielder in a recent television interview.

Asked about his future by TBS, Fielder said: "I'm signed for this year, but being real about it, it is probably the last year."

Fielder's remarks weren't exactly shocking. For some time, it's been assumed that the Brewers - who play in the smallest of baseball's markets, by population - would be unable to afford to retain him. Fielder is undoubtedly looking at the kind of contracts given in recent seasons to players such as Mark Teixeira, an extravagant US$180 million (Dh661m) over eight years, and Adrian Gonzalez (seven years, $154m), precisely the kind of deals the Brewers are unlikely to offer.

Fielder's comments were sobering. Brewers fans are eager to see the team's second play-offs appearance since 1982, but the prospect of losing a valuable player is a dark cloud over the club.

And resigned as both player and fans might be to Fielder's inevitable exit, it's a sad reminder that, for all the progress made with revenue sharing, baseball still has an uneven economic playing field.