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Would Fowler Fit in Philly?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, October 06, 2012 05:04 PM | Comments: 38
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Colorado Rockies are expected to shop outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Dexter Fowler. Before you get all giddy, this isn’t about Cuddyer, but Fowler and what he could potentially bring to the Phillies as their new centerfielder.

Is Fowler really the answer? (Coloradosportsdesk.com)

Cuddyer never seemed to be a fit in Philadelphia, even as many Phillies fans openly pined for him when he hit free agency last offseason.  He eventually signed on with the Rockies for $10.5 million per season, too rich for the Phillies blood. That’s a good thing.

Fowler is the catch here. Renck mentions the Phillies by name in his post as a team that needs outfield help. In his end-of-the-season press conference alongside Charlie Manuel, GM Ruben Amaro stated that the free agent outfield crop was not strong. A trade could be the way. Does Fowler fit the mold?

With Fowler, you’re getting a 25-year-old outfielder still coming into his own. He’s coming off his best season, one in which he hit .300 and got on base at a .389 clip. Power isn’t a large part of his game, although he did hit a career high 13 homers in 2011.

A closer inspection of the numbers unfortunately finds a dreaded Coors Field split. At home with the help of the thin air of the Rocky Mountains, Fowler was much better, as players normally are in Denver. His average dropped 70 points away from Coors Field in 2011, from .332 to .262. One positive is that he still found a way to get on base at a .339 clip on the road, which would have been fourth among Phillies in ’11 with more than 300 at-bats. To compare, Jimmy Rollins OBP in 2011 was a measly .316.

Stick with me, but lets get statty. Another way to compare Fowler correctly to the rest of the league due to him playing 81 games on a mountainside is to use Fangraphs stat wRC+. It’s similar to OPS+, and is park and league adjusted.  The average is 100 and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For more on wRC+, click here.

Fowler’s 123 wRC+ is on par with some of the best outfielders in baseball, like Carlos Beltran (125), his Rockies teammate Carlos Gonzalez (123) Bryce Harper (122), Jason Heyward (121), and Jay Bruce (119).

Defensively, he has not been all that great. My first thought, without peering the metrics, was that Fowler would be one of the better players in the field because he’s so quick and his strides so long.  You’d think at 6-foot-5 and having some wheels, Fowler would be a prime centerfielder. That’s not the case.

Among all outfielders over the past two seasons, Fowler has made 14 errors (4th worst in the majors) and has an Ultimate Zone Rating of -19.7. Only Curtis Granderson of the Yankees is worse. Raul Ibanez is -17.6, just ahead of Fowler, if you were wondering. Since coming to the bigs, there aren’t many other outfielders who have been more inept as an outfielder, as crazy as that is to think. UZR is also park-adjusted, meaning Coors Field is not an issue here.

Fowler is arbitration eligible through 2015, so while he’ll be getting considerable raises each year, he is cost controlled. One negative is that he’s is guided by the force that is Scott Boras.

One thing working in the Phillies favor is that the Rockies organization is hurting for pitching, something the Phillies have an abundance of at all levels of the minor leagues.

Yet, it still doesn’t seem like the best match, especially knowing that Fowler is relatively inept with the glove. If the Phillies are flanking Fowler with guys like Brown, Ruf, Schierholtz, and Pierre in 2013, it’s disaster waiting to happen. Defense can be taught, as you’ve seen Domonic Brown grow into an OK fielder, however, centerfield is the anchor of the D and can’t be taken for granted.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1714 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    solid article. I myself thought of Fowler, but did not know how he was defensively. Since he is NOT GOOD, I would stay away from this switch hitter. A centerfielder needs a solid glove, arm and the ability to cover a lot of ground. Sounds like Fowler IS NOT for us. Thanks for the examination of someone who I mistakenly thought had potential. Off to other candidates.

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    Defense can be taught, but only to a certain extent. Your Brown example, for instance: he’s improved, yes, but he’s still not exactly good.

    Fowler doesn’t have much power, either, but he doesn’t make up for it by stealing bases. His stolen base percentage is less than stellar.

    I’d look at others before I’d consider Fowler.

     
  • Posts: 5401 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    There are two tricky splits I think they should stay away from, at all costs. The Coors Field hitters split, and the Petco/At&T/Safeco Park pitcher’s split. …Okay yeah I made those up, but you get the idea.

     
  • Posts: 0 BART SHART

    Here are some players the Phils might want to go after this offseason
    DENARD SPAN — decent fielder, gets on base, steals bases, kinda like the poor man’s Michael Bourne.
    B.J. UPTON — Excellent fielder, steals bases, hits homers , low batting average, low on-base-percentage, Free Agent.
    ANGEL PAGAN — Switch hitter, decent centerfielder, decent hitter, steals bases, a less expensive version of Shane Victorine, Free agent
    EMILIO BONAFACIO– plays well all over, switch hitter, plays second, third, outfield, decent hitter, not a free agent.
    MELKY CABRERA– head case, switch hitter with some talent. gamble, Freee agent.

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    Hmmm think i take my chances with Pagan first then Fowler. More importantly what are they going to do for 3rd base? Please under no circumstance Polly. Love Polly but the man is a walking corpse at this point.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      It’s a waste of worrying power even to think about 3rd. There’s absolutely nothing (at least currently) available, but I’d still bet dollars to donuts that Polanco won’t return. He’s so broken down Amaro might even be considering having him put down. 3rd will be a stopgap this season, and fans can only hope that an outfielder can be signed to make up for what’s lacking at the hot corner. As long as there’s a guy over at 3rd who fields better than Boulder Hands Wigginton, they’ll probably be okay, barely.

       
      • Posts: 0 chuck schreiber

        I understand Ruf is going to play winter ball, if true why not try him at 3b? It’s easier to find an Of than a 3B. What do they (P’s) have to lose.

         
      • Posts: 1048 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        It’s easier finding an OF because it’s MUCH easier to play OF than third base. You can’t just stick any player at any position and think he’ll work out okay like in some video game or whatever. We all saw the consequences of sub-par defense the first half of the year with Wigginton and Fontenot handling third. Ruf would be worse defensively, and we really don’t know if he can hit at the professional level in the first place.

         
      • Posts: 0 c schreiber

        Eric, you didn’t understand my post, he’s playing winter ball, find out during winter ball if he can do so. I didn’t say put him out there next year without working him out at 3b, but if their stuck with Wiggs at third next year you might as well put him there it can’t be any worst. As for the hitting part, he has winter all and spring training to show what he has with the bat. So far, so good from what we’ve seen.

         
  • Posts: 0 Eddie J

    If you’re gonna have Brown in right and Ruf in left, say, or the defensive equivalent, you’re gonna need a sweeper in center, even if it’ll cost you offense. Might be worth bringing back Victorino.

    Polly might be a decent bench option at this point. Solid pro, RH bat with some pop and can play all IF positions. Buy him out and bring him back cheap. Probably stay healthier not playing every day.

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    Eddie sounds like a good idea but no. Polly just to far gone i believe. When the Phils need him the most he’s liable to be out with “back spasms”. Of course as i say that some team will sign him and he will proceed to hit .310 such as the curse of Philadelphia sports.

     
    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      You know, I hadn’t really thought about it until now, but I think Polly would do well in a role where he sat most of the time and came off the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement and got a few starts here and there. Maybe something like 1 start a week or so. I think he would be much more likely to stay healthy in such a situation.

      Now, whether he’d be willing to accept such a role, and willing to be paid commensurate with such a rule…who knows.

       
      • Posts: 0 George

        The problem with Polanco as a part-timer is that he’d still be taking infield practice even on some days when he wasn’t starting. With back issues, one never knows when there will be a flareup, and even a couple of easy practice ground balls could wreck him for a week.
        As a defensive replacement late in the game, he’d have to first get really loose. If he came in with insufficient warm-up time, he’d be practically guaranteed to have back spasms.

        My own feeling is that Polanco will shortly be considering retirement.

         
      • Posts: 1048 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        I don’t know, guys who have had lots of injury problems can stay around a while when they’re not used a lot. Guys like Giambi and Thome would have been done years ago had they been forced to play daily, but they’ve been able to add productive years to their careers through limited use.

        Sure, you never know, and he could re-injure himself, but I’m just saying you drastically decrease the probability of him being injured by really restricting his use. I’m not sure there are a ton of options that are much more appealing.

         
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr

    I also wouldnt automatically hand over Ruff a starting position based on his 35 AB’s. That came at the end of season when most pitchers where low on gas. I know we in desperate need of the next star but throw caution into the wind.

     
    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      Seconded.

      Let’s remember we really have no idea how Ruf will be able to hit major league pitching, especially after they get a little bit of a scouting report on him. 35 ABs is nothing, and pretty much every scout you hear says he’s not very likely to amount to much of a hitter at the major league level. I think it’s best to keep expectations very low.

       
  • Posts: 0 Eddie J

    I agree that it’s too early to anoint Ruf the next Luzinski. Or even the next Phil Bradley. Maybe he really is a late bloomer whose light came on and he’s going to be the middle of the order RH power bat we so desperately need. Or maybe he’s Ron Jones. He hit well bc pitchers were challenging him and he’s been aggressive (he walked, what, once?). The question is whether he can adjust to the inevitable adjustments.

    Re: Polly – nobody’s gonna give him a guaranteed contract. At best he’ll get a minor league deal with a spring training invite. So why not here?

     
  • Posts: 2005 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    Let me ask this question then, first given that it is too early to annoint Ruf as anything other than what he is, a good looking prospect – but, when was it decided that Dom Brown was the savior of this team? OK, I go too far, when was it decided that the Phils should look at him for 3 seasons which were loaded with offensive opportunities and STILL there are some that say lets let him play for an entire season – to see what else he can give us aside from a sub .240 batting average, rare power and sometimes the goofiest of defense.
    No savior, no Luzinski in karma, just a good looking prospect that surely needs a chance – play him in winter ball, focus on LF – and lets see what happens.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Brooks, your concern about Brown being apponted the “savior of this team” or even that the Phils have looked at him for three seasons, I think you are somewhat off-base. Amaro only last week said that no outfiled spots are guarenteed. If it had been three complete years the Phils had given Brown a chance, I’d say that that was enough. But those “three years” in reality have only been parts of three years. He’s still had less than one full season of at-bats, and most of those have been on an irregular basis. Brown hasn’t shown a lot so far, but it’s probably still too soon to tell, especially because he has shown certain abilities that are all positive: plate discipline, an above average arm, and speed. He’s also younger than Ruf.

      Ruf will be playing winter ball to learn more about the outfield, where he’s rarely played. Brown, on the other hand, recently had an MRI on his knee and also isn’t changing positions. Winter ball could be detrimental in his case.

       
      • Posts: 2005 Brooks

        Avatar of Brooks

        I can only go by what I’ve seen so far George. Over 3 seasons I have seen the table set to make a case for DB (not just a few times) but little to nothing has taken place. Men on base, late innnings, simple mistakes – and for Ruf, sure its too early to decide but he has capitalized on a few of the ‘showcase’ opportunities, that gives fuel to his cause – play him more.

        I don’t feel the Phils can afford again to give someone like Brown or Mayberry a chance at showing us they can do something besides hit .240, below average power..

         
    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      Brooks, as I’ve said before, don”t look at batting average because it’s a poor stat. Stop citing it as if it means anything. Use OBP. Or, better yet, post their whole slash line, which is BA, OBP & SLG

      To illustrate:
      Nate Schierholtz: Batting average: .275, OBP: .319, SLG: .379
      Domonic Brown: Batting average: .235, OBP: .316, SLG: .396

      Brown and Schierholtz got on base at basically the same pace, but Schierholtz’s BA was 40 points higher. Getting on base matters, not how you got on base.

       
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    I believe that Ruf is the answer in LF. He’s 26. Nothing is guaranteed in this world but that guy is gonna hit and he’s too old to screw around with. If you’re iffy about him, trade him. You’ll get good value. If you have Ruf and Brown in the corner spots then that gives real payroll flexibility in CF. I like Upton. Young with a good contract. I don’t believe that Bourn is gonna get that big contract. Like to have Bourn.

    The Dipsy

     
    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      I’ve always liked Bourn, and even thought he would be a good pickup for the Phils this offseason, but after his big season this year, guessing the kind of deal he’s going to command now, and reading this: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/michael-bourns-market-value/

      I’ve decided I want nothing to do with him. Too much of his value comes from his speed, and that’s the first thing to go in a player. Too much potential for a complete collapse in his value, since he really doesn’t bring things like a high on-base rate or any power whatsoever.

      I’d rather have Victorino back, or Melky Cabrera or even Angel Pagan than pay what it’s gonna cost (in terms of both money and years) to get Bourn.

       
  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Are the Mets gonna pick up Dave Wright?

    The Dipsy

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      The Mets are trying to extend Wright. I think it’s pretty obvious they intend to keep him.

       
  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    If Frandsen doesn’t start at 3B he along with Galvis will make pretty solid utility players. Phils need a solid fielding high OBP CF. Why wouldn’t the Phils be interested in Cuddyer? only 2 years and only $10.5.

     
    • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

      Cuddyer is the same sort of trap that the Phillies fell into with Ibanez and Polanco – an aging player with diminishing skills. Cuddyer is guaranteed $21 million over the next two seasons. He’s 34 on opening day. I’d rather see that money allocated another way.

       
      • Posts: 0 psujoe

        I believe that Cuddyer will be younger when his deal ends than both Ibanez and Polanco when their deals started. I cetainly wouldn’t trade significant assets and take on the entire salary. I haven’t looked in a while, but I believe the Phils have around $30-35 million to spend.

         
      • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

        The point is that the Cuddyer contract is a bad one for a player in decline. The Phillies don’t need any more bad deals on the books. Additionally, they’d need to give up more young (and inexpensive) talent to acquire Cuddyer. RAJ may think differently, but it’s not the direction I would go.

         
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Ciuddyer is not a CF – he’s only played 6 games (36 innings) in CF in his career. And he’s not a particularly good defensive RF.

       
  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    Not even getting into Fowler, who I would view as axlus as an acquisition, Troy Renck was on target (easy as it was ) mentioning the Phils as needing OF help, but if they line up favorably as a trade partner, it’d be quite surprising. I can’t believe the Rockies’d pursue anything other than major league ready pitching talent. I’d put a bigger spread between the Braves and Phillies as likely trade partners than the spring forecasts did the Oakland A’s and LA Angels.
    With the tandem of Tulo and Cargo around, the Rox need to attempt to win now, and I would think they could do better than acquiring Vance Worley, Kendrick or Cloyd for a pretty protypical leadoff guy.

     
    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      Maybe. Tulo and Cargo are 27 and 26, respectively, so the Rockies have some time if they’re looking to compete. It’s not like they’re in their early 30s or anything. Not that I want Fowler, just saying that the Rockies may very well not be in “compete now” mode, especially when you consider that the bulk of their pitching staff is in their early 20s. They’ve got a few years until they start to hit their primes.

       
      • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

        Frank Wren gave a post humous (figgeratively) interview on many topics, including the Bravos off season plans. He spoke of the high talent of Delgado and Tehran, and I’ll paraphrase what might just have been lip service in the shock of no more baseball. After speaking highly of them, he said words to the effect of if we move them, we’re getting a big fish. Not that Dexter Fowler, even as an everyday player equates to fair deal for stud level prospects, but it speaks to what the Braves have to market. Anyone the Phils want to trade for, the Braves, with some similar needs (3rd, OF if Bourn splits) would seem to hold an advantaged position.

         
  • Posts: 0 Whatever

    I’m in a minority here, but I certainly would consider Dexter Fowler. I think he’s a younger, cheaper option than most of the names being bandied about. Is he that bad a fielder? He’s a pretty good switchhitter. We’d have to give up pitching to get him as the Rockies are desperate for that. I read a few times on Atlanta Braves blogs that fans there are advocating for him if they do not resign Bourn. The Braves do have the young ams to trade if they go that route.

     
  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    What are everyone’s thoughts on BJ Upton? What would he likely cost? I like the Pagan idea.

     
    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      I think it really depends on how the market for the other guys plays out. There are a lof of CF available this season, but Upton might be the most coveted, seeing as he’s the youngest. I could see anywhere from 4-7 years at an annual salary anywhere between $9-14 million per. Obviously, if most teams target him the range will fall toward the higher end of both of those, but if most teams decide they’d rather have Hamilton or Bourn or Victorino or Pagan then the price could fall to the lower end of those ranges. This off-season will be very interesting.

      I wouldn’t mind Pagan, but I’d prefer they find a quality corner OF if they sign him, as he’s unlikely to provide any kind of upgrade to the offense (in fact, Victorino may well be better, and is only 7 months older than Pagan). The bright side is that Pagan and/or Victorino will probably end up being on the cheaper end of the CF free agent scale, so it might be possible to pull something off like one of them and a guy like Melky Cabrera (or maybe even Swisher, again depending on the market [but probably not - I think he'll get expensive])

      As for Dexter Fowler, no thanks. His career line outside of Denver is: .248/.331/.367, and he’s not a particularly useful guy even on the basepaths, seeing as his stolen base success rate is 66%, and his defensive deficiencies (some of which may be attributable to Coors field, but not all)

       
  • Posts: 0 Dylan

    shane victorino

     
    • Posts: 5401 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      If the price is right, I’d have no problem with that. Last year looks to me like the outlier to me, a career low .704 OPS. At 31, I think he’ll bounce back some, maybe not like earlier in his career, but there’s plenty gas left in the tank.

       
 
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