Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dexter Fowler Makes The Big League Team; Move Shows Rockies Commitment To Winning


It was officially announced today that Dexter Fowler has made the big league roster for the Colorado Rockies.

Fowler has continued to grow throughout the spring, crediting his success to the pointers that new hitting coach Don Baylor has been giving to him. Fowler has been taking extra batting practice both before and after every game of late.

The Denver Post has a great quote from Fowler about his excitement to make the jump from Double-A to the Major Leagues. Fowler says
"When they called me into the office, I didn't know what was going on," Fowler said. "And when they told me, I almost started crying."

Fowler has the speed that the Rockies are desperate for. He represents the ability to get on base and be a constant threat not only to steal a base, but be able to score on a ball in the gap, or take an extra base where a normal base runner would not be able to.

The spring that Fowler had was impressive enough to supplant the Abby Greer award winner, given to the best spring training performer, Ryan Spilborghs, from his role as center fielder and leadoff hitter. That alone suggests that Fowler has opened the eyes of the Rockies front office and given them confidence that he is the best option.

If Fowler can continue to hit well this is a good move for the Rockies. He represents the best talent on the field. The move puts Spilborghs in left field and moves Seth Smith to the bench. If Fowler struggles, it may spell early trouble for a squad looking for its first quick start in three years.

Putting Smith on the bench is a difficult decision to make. He has hit over .300 for the spring and shown that he too is ready for an everyday job in the big leagues. He came to camp in far better shape, clearly making his offseason workout program a priority and gaining the agililty to be an everyday player in the outfield.

Smith has the ability to play all three outfield positions, one reason that the move may have been an easier decision. If the Rockies are facing a tough right hander, Fowler, who switch hits but is stronger from the right side, could slide to the bench, putting Spilborghs in center field and Smith in left.

One thing that can be determined about the move is that it was a clear sign from the front office that they are looking to win now.

Fowler, who got a late season call-up, will now qualify to be in the category of "super-2" which means that he will be eligible for arbitration after the 2010 season. If the Rockies were to have left Fowler in the minors for only two months, they would go an extra year before he could claim a much bigger pay day through the arbitration process.

While ownership could have chosen to groom Fowler in the minors for just two more months and save quite possibly millions of dollars, they have decided that it is imperative to have the absolute best talent on the field, regardless of the long term ramifications.

This spits in the face of many of the critics of this team. The much heard cry from angry fans after the departure of star outfielder Matt Holliday is that this team does not care about winning and refuses to pay for great players. This move shows that Holliday may have just come up one year too early and hit his stride in the big leagues before the Rockies could find a way to lock him down.

It should be interesting to see how it plays out with Fowler starting on a consistant basis and leading off for the Rockies. Clint Hurdle made it very clear that a trip to Colorado Springs was not out of the question if it is determined that Fowler could use some more consistant at-bats.


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