Mark Kiszla, he the subject of frequent disgust and ire from the Rockies faithful, revisits what was a hot topic this past off-season: whether or not the Rockies should trade Dexter Fowler for pitching. He wrote the following in Thursday’s Denver Post:
I say: Trade Fowler. Or at least try.
But I also wonder: Do the Rockies have the guts to part ways with Fowler?
This is nothing against Fowler, who ranks among the Rockies’ top four position players, if you study the advanced metrics. For a team with obvious pitching needs, however, Fowler could be more valuable to Colorado as trade bait than as a leadoff hitter.
Fowler is the poster child for the vexing, inexhaustible supply of wait-until-next-year patience the Rockies can afford, because it seems 30,000 paying customers automatically show up to Coors Field, no matter where the Rockies stand in the National League West standings.”
It’s a fine feat by Kiszla, troll extraordinaire. In a matter of three paragraphs he managed to take a pot shot at the front office for being too loyal (or not “having the guts” to part with Fowler), one of his go-to moves, followed by his bread-and-butter, the “front office will never have urgency if you silly fans keep showing up anyway.” You don’t see that kind of one-two punch often…
Anyhow, the idea of trading Fowler is not wholly unreasonable. What this theory seems to overlook though, in the context of a reasonable conversation about baseball, is two key developments from this season.
First of all, the value the Rockies would get right now or this off-season for Fowler has lessened significantly thanks to his struggles in 2013. When he finished 2012 with a .300/.389/.474 line, that was an opportunity to trade Fowler at his peak value. As such the Rockies set the asking price ridiculously high and then were all too happy to retain his services when no trading partner emerged. To not trade Fowler when his value was sky high and then turn around and try to trade him after his value has taken a dive, well, that doesn’t make much sense.
It’s difficult enough to get teams to part with pitching, let alone when the piece you’re offering is trending the wrong direction. If Kiszla is wondering how much Fowler would “fetch” in a trade, the answer is probably not very much.
Second of all, the narrative that the Rockies need to rebuild their pitching staff is dead. Do they need to add pitching? Of course they do. Do they need more depth in that department? Of course they do. But they don’t have to start from scratch like we thought they did before this season began. That’s a subtle difference, but it’s enough of a difference that the Rockies don’t have to tear things down.
They need to seek upgrades, but they do not need to seek them through a drastic move like trading one of their four best position players.
In the meantime the offense has met unexpected troubles, batting .237 as a team in July and a measly .246 on the road to effectively lampoon Colorado’s season. Fowler has been streaky and he has fought injuries, but we know by now that he can provide a huge boost offensively when he’s right, the kind of boost this team could desperately use. The Rockies probably cannot afford to subtract from their lineup, even if the arc of Fowler’s career is characterized by an infuriating measure of inconsistency.
Dexter Fowler definitely needs to show improvement and he needs to be less streaky. His struggles and injuries are near the top of the list of what has gone wrong for the Rockies this year. But that doesn’t make this the time to pursue a trade for the center fielder.
With the developments this season, both for him and for the surprisingly competent pitching staff, it makes sense to hope that he turns things around and seek pitching improvements elsewhere.
What do you think, Rockies fans? Should the team look into trading Fowler?