Dexter Fowler, center fielder, Cardinals
What’s up: The great Vin Scully dubbed Fowler “Daddy Long Legs.” That was back when Fowler glided across center field for the Rockies. Monday in St. Louis, the Rockies will face their old friend and teammate again when they begin a three-game series against the Cardinals. The Cardinals entered Saturday with a 47-49 record and were on the fringe of the playoff race. Fowler has mirrored his team’s mediocrity, hitting .249 with 14 homers, four stolen bases and a .336 on-base percentage. He missed 14 games in late June and early July because of a heel injury, but he’s back now. However, there is speculation that Fowler could be moved to a corner outfield position next season, a move that would not make the career center fielder happy.
Background: It seems like eons ago when the Rockies selected Fowler out of Georgia’s Milton High School in the 14th round of the 2004 draft. He played in Colorado for five full seasons before the Rockies traded him to Houston in December 2013 for Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles. Free agency took Fowler to Chicago, where he won the World Series with the Cubs last season, and then to St. Louis this year. Likable and popular with teammates and fans, Fowler has enjoyed a successful and lucrative big-league career.
Saunders’ take: Fowler’s timing has been excellent. He cashed in on his role in the Cubs’ championship, along with the Cardinals’ need for a starting center fielder, to garner a five-year, $82.5 million deal with a full no-trade clause. Yet Fowler, like many of his St. Louis teammates, has failed to match expectations. That’s left the legions of Cardinals fans a bit grouchy. Fowler’s big contract makes me wonder how much Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon will be worth when he becomes a free agent after the 2018 season. Blackmon, like Fowler, is 31. Blackmon, in the prime of his career, is the best center fielder in the National League. He is batting .327 with 23 homers, 12 triples and 67 RBIS, and a case could be made that he is Colorado’s MVP. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Blackmon’s career, but I hope he gets the payday he deserves.