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Trading Players Like Dexter Fowler

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, November 26, 2012 03:00 PM | Comments: 18
Analysis, Posts, Transactions

Dexter Fowler

Could Fowler land in Philly?

Yesterday, the Denver Post‘s Troy Renck reported that one of the consequences of B.J. Upton signing this week was that demand would instantly increase for center fielder Dexter Fowler. Fowler is younger (26), cheaper (two more years of arbitration eligibility), and has a better career triple-slash line than Upton (.271/.364/.427 v. .255/.336/.422). Upton provides more value defensively and on the base paths while Fowler walks more; both strikeout nearly 25% of the time. While most of Fowler’s injuries that keep him out of action are not major (sprained ankles, running into walls), Upton is has been more durable than Fowler (Upton averages 627 PA/yr. v. Fowler’s 529 PA/yr. since Fowler’s first full season in 2009).

Both are pretty good players but come with their costs. Upton would have a much higher annual value but the Phillies could have him for five or more years. However, he would cost them the 16th overall pick. It is unclear what Fowler would cost in a trade, or what the 64-win Rockies would be looking for to acquire him, however, a quick check of Fowler’s Baseball-Reference page shows that three players who are statistically similar to him have been traded near their age 26 season, including one that the Phillies acquired. And the acquisition costs were lower than you might think.

Chicago White Sox acquire Mark Teahen from Kansas City for Josh Fields

Believe it or not, the most statistically offensively similar player in baseball history through Fowler’s current age-26 season per Baseball-Reference was Teahen. Teahen had incredible position versitility in his age 26 season, playing all three outfield positions and both corner infield for the Royals in 2008. Teahen’s career line following that season was .268/.332/.421 with 47 HR and 34 SB, which compares closely to Fowler’s current career-line of .271/.364/.427 with 28 HR and 64 SB.

Teahen was traded for a former Baseball America Top-50 prospect (Fields) coming off an injury filled second season and a second baseman who had an above-average rookie year (Getz) that turned into a solidly average player. At the time, the trade seemed like a coup for the ChiSox: Teahen struggled after the trade, Fields continued to fizzle, and Getz was solid but remarkably average. The Phillies would likely need to sweeten the pot even more for the Rockies, something more than an injured former top prospect and a solid replacement-level infielder.

Austin Jackson and Phil Coke traded to Tigers from Yankees; Yankees receive Curtis Granderson

Jackson, per Baseball-Reference, is statistically the most comparable player to Fowler in all of baseball. Jackson has been fantastic for Detroit since acquired (.280/.346/.416 with 30 HR and 61 SB since 2010). The only problem with comparing this trade with anything the Phillies can do is the fact that Jackson was traded as a highly-touted prospect. What may be better is to compare or craft a trade around what Jackson and Coke got: Granderson.

In the winter of 2009, Granderson had a number of above-average years and one out-of-this-world year (2007). Granderson plays better defense and has incorporated more power into his game; in a lot of ways, he has turned into what many people think Fowler can be. Coke was projected to be, and has become, an above-average reliever. Would Domonic Brown and a pair of promising but possibly squeezed out relievers (say Michael Stutes and Josh Lindblom) be enough to acquire Fowler? Would you do it? That would seemingly be a comparable trade to the trade that landed the Yankees Granderson.

Phillies acquire Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and a player to be named later for Juan Samuel

This trade is quite unlike the others: it was a mid-season deal where the Phillies were able to sell incredibly high on Samuel to the contending Mets and acquire someone who would become a transformative player in Dykstra. Dykstra’s skillset was highly undervalued in the late 1980′s and put up very comparable to the numbers Fowler put up (.268/.341/.399, 34 HR, 133 SB). Dykstra tanked for the Phils in the second half of 1989 but was an All-Star and finished ninth in MVP voting the very next year and hit .298/.400/.434 with 47 HR and 152 SB in the rest of his time in Philadelphia. This one was a steal, even if the early returns had it as a steal in the other direction, and will probably never be replicated.

These three trades were for players remarkably statistically comparable to Fowler but obviously all three are not exact fits or road maps for what the Phillies may offer. The Jackson/Coke for Granderson trade may be the most comparable and Brown/relievers/throw-in starter such as Tyler Cloyd may be enough to get it done. The Rockies are tough to create hypothetical trades with because, on the surface, they appear to need so much.

Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 806 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Betasigmadeltashag

    The one problem with Fowler and this may be a perception since I have not seen him a lot is he is a defensive liability. I think base running can be fixed. Even though Davy Lopes is no longer here the Phil’s are still an above average base running team. Saying that if you can get Fowler for Brown and Cloyd plus another U think I may chance it

     
    • Posts: 854 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      Minuses:

      1) solid hitting stats seem to be a product of Coors
      Career:
      - total: .271/.364/.427 (.791 OPS)
      - home: .295/.395/.487 (.882 OPS)
      - away: .248/.331/.367 (.698 OPS)

      2012, his best season by far:
      - total: .300/.389/.474 (.863 OPS)
      - home: .332/.431/.553 (.984 OPS), .408 BABIP
      - away: .262/.339/.381 (.720 OPS), .369 BABIP

      2) the various advanced stats agree that he’s not a good fielder

      3) he doesn’t run much, and when he does the cost outweighs the benefits:
      - 37 steals and 22 caught stealing total over the past 3 years
      - 63% success is below the 67-70% breakeven rate

      4) a “buy-high” scenario, since he’s coming off his best season

      Pluses:
      1) he’s young
      2) so he may still improve
      3) he walks a lot

       
      • Posts: 0 rc

        No matter what they do it’s probably going to be a buy high scenario so you have to look at the alternatives and compare them. if it was a buy low scenario, it wouldn’t be relevant. Money savings are a big factor though I don’t know what he’s expected to get. Youth also obviously.

        Fowler’s home/away hitting stats are a concern although the away stats last year are at least acceptable. I think he would probably be fine at CBP especially in a leadoff role. He’s also got pretty good stats from either side a big plus for Phillies situation.

        Fielding at Coors Field in CF is very challenging. A lot of ground to cover and the ball can fly off the bat there so you have to make a decision fast there.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        “if it was a buy low scenario, it wouldn’t be relevant.”

        Not sure I follow. Fowler will (I think) cost more in players/prospects because he’s coming off his best season yet. Victorino is another relevant option, and he is a buy low scenario (and without the cost in traded players, obviously). Granted it doesn’t appear as if the Phils are interested in bringing back Vic, for whatever reason.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        terminology check: “buy-high” to me means there is a good chance future performance won’t be as good as this year’s, so the Phillies would be buying (in $ and/or players) when the player’s stock is at a relative high. Applies to Fowler, Bourn, and to a lesser extent, Pagan.

         
      • Posts: 0 rc

        I don’t think there’s a buy low player out there much different than what we have in the OF is what I’m saying. You are right that Fowler is going to cost some in terms of players IF Rockies like the deal. Just saying that he is at buy high, that’s not a big concern considering the needs in the OF. I mean you are talking about a young player ascending while Victorino is getting older and may (may not be for a year or two) be declining.

        Shane maybe in a month will come down in price but he still may not even be their top move and he is also a stopgap if they do buy low on him.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        We disagree, then. I think Vic is better than what the Phils have now.

         
      • Posts: 0 rc

        Well we could undervalue what it would take to get Fowler. Many ways to look at it, Fowler could have 3-4 good years ahead of him and he’s been improving…look at Shane’s numbers from age 27-30…3 years around .8 or better , 1 down year at .756

        You’re talking about a leadoff hitter who has gotten better, is relatively cheap and in his prime vs Shane who hasn’t been great leading off and is looking for a lot of money supposedly. And you need to wait out signing him.

        You have to pay a price for this…one is ascending the other is possibly in sharp decline :

        Fowler
        age 24 – .757 ops
        age 25 – . 796 ops
        age 26 – . 863 ops

        vs this

        Shane
        age 29 – .757 ops
        age 30 – . 847 ops
        age 31- . 704 ops

         
      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        rc, no.

        Fowler
        age 24 – .595 Road OPS
        age 25 – .782 Road OPS
        age 26 – .720 Road OPS

        The fact is Fowler is a completely average offensive player outside of Coors Field, with very little power (career .119 road ISO, which is basically the same as Brian Schneider’s career ISO). When you add in defense, baserunning and the cost to acquire the player (which Renck says will be “very high”) Victorino is far and away the better option, even at the age of 32.

         
  • Posts: 0 hk

    Maybe the Phils can trade Josh Fields for him.

     
  • Posts: 0 Trent

    I would take Fowler over Upton anyday. Fowler is not a defensive liability at all…..I live in CO currently and have watched the guy play, He’s legit……If you can get Dex for Cloyd, Brown and one other prospect I hope to god they pull the string!

     
  • Posts: 0 George

    I think I’d prefer giving up the draft pick for Upton than giving up three or four prospects/relievers for Fowler.

    Of course, if B.J. signs elsewhere, it alters things. I’m still not sure a trade would be better than some of the other CF options if those options can be signed to 2-3 year contracts. In that time someone in the system could develop or another option might come up. I know prospects are just prospects, but in the cases of Stutes and Lindblom, they’ve both had some success in the majors and may be too important to the Phils’ questionable ‘pen.

    I’ll also mention that although everyone thinks Fowler has yet to reach his potential, Brown is two years younger, and may not have reached his potential yet, either.

    The Rockies are not going to go for Cloyd; their pitching was abominable this past year, and Cloyd wouldn’t be percieved by them to be a big upgrade.

     
    • Posts: 0 Trent

      Yea good points George, I mean if we could sign Josh Hamilton that would be great……but that prob wont happen ( wont doubt anything with Rube as our GM tho). Sadly enough for the Rockies, Cloyd would be an upgrade and I think they could bite on a guy like him. They may ask for worley, which is somethin I would be hesitant on doing.

       
      • Posts: 1135 EricL

        Avatar of EricL

        Sending Cloyd to pitch in Coors Field would border on cruel and unusual punishment.

         
    • Posts: 1135 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      Yeah, I agree George.

      Especially with regard to trading Domonic Brown, who has a pretty good shot at ending up a much better player than Dexter Fowler. At age 24 Fowler had an OPS+ of 92. At age 24, in limited ABs, Brown had an OPS+ of 91. And Brown’s arm is much better and his power potential is miles ahead of Fowler.

      That would be a huge mistake, IMO.

       
  • Posts: 5190 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Home and away splits make it appear that Dexter Fowler is the wrong direction to go. But it wouldn’t surprise me if that is what the Phillies do. RA Jr. and scouts have shown that they don’t value ballpark factors when making trades and acquisitions.

    Generally any pitcher from the marine layer in the west coast is a gamble when traded away from there, and any hitter from Coors field is the same for the opposite reason. And when I say “generally” I mean not all inclusive, so please, no examples of exceptions are needed, I know who Gio Gonzales is. I also know who Chad Qualls, Heath Bell, and Jake Peavy are- shells of their former selves in San Diego.

    I realize that CBP has played neutral the past few years, but I think that is because the hitters have just not been as good, and then after RA jr. took over the team, he built it around pitching first and foremost. What was once considered a “bandbox” is no longer. The question for me would be; Is that due to the way the team is built? or did the park factors (wind direction, air density, dimensions, etc.) actually change? I think the answer is pretty clear.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Lefty, CBP has been playing neutral (for home runs) since 2008, when the Phillies were 2nd in the NL in scoring. It has played about neutral for scoring runs (i.e. for overall offense, or hitting) in every year of its existence except for 2005.

      When we say it’s been “playing neutral” for home runs, what we are saying is that when you compare what both the Phillies and their opponents do in the games at CBP, with what the Phillies and their opponents do in the other parks (the Phils’ away games), there is essentially no difference (3.7%) in the number of home runs hit between the home games and the away games.

      That is certainly not the case for the true bandboxes of baseball. Over the past 5 years, there have been:

      25% more home runs (by both teams) in the Rangers’ home games than their away games
      25% more home runs in the Orioles’ home games
      26% more home runs in the Yankees’ home games (since ’09 when New YS opened)
      27% more home runs in the Reds’ home games
      33% more home runs in the White Sox’ home games
      34% more home runs in the Rockies’ home games

      CBP’s difference of 3.7% ranks 12th, and there are only two parks that are closer to perfectly neutral.

       
    • Posts: 854 schmenkman

      Avatar of schmenkman

      Let’s look at 2009. There were 207 home runs hit at CBP that year, the 3rd highest of any park in baseball (behind Yankee and Arlington), and that was discussed at great length during the World Series that year.

      What was not discussed was that the Phillies hit even more home runs on the road (116), than they did at home (108). Or that, while Phillies’ pitching gave up 99 home runs at home, they also gave up 90 on the road.

      And so the total home runs in the Phillies road games was 206, only ONE less than the total in their home games.

      In other words, in a year when CBP was trumpeted as a great home run park, it was in fact neutral, and if anything it actuallly depressed the number the Phillies hit. There were a lot of home runs hit at CBP because the Phillies hit a lot of them wherever they played, and because their staff allowed a lot of them wherever they played.

       
 
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