Dex­ter Fowler, cen­ter fielder, Car­di­nals

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

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.

Dilip Vish­wanat, Getty Images

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