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Dexter Fowler wasn’t gritty enough to be the Rockies’ center fielder

Mar 25, 2014, 1:04 PM EST

Dexter Fowler Getty Getty Images

All this time I thought they played baseball games and then I read this from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post and find out that — Jiminy Christmas! — they’re wrestling in gutters!

That’s how Kiszla puts it, anyway, after acknowledging that the Rockies have a hole in center field now that they traded away Dexter Fowler. But never fear: it’s fighting time:

The Rockies, however, are better off without Fowler.

My choice to play center: Corey Dickerson. You want the Rockies to bring a dirt-bag attitude that can wrestle with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the gutter, then Dickerson is your center fielder.

Kiszla can be forgiven, however, in that he’s merely following Walt Weiss’ lead:

“In our sport, more than any other sport, the ability to compete and grind and play with grit is extremely important, because we have to play at the highest level virtually every day for seven months. There’s no other sport like that,” Weiss said Monday. “The ability to compete through difficult circumstances and still believe you can play up here even when you get beat up by the game … The self doubt, even though it does creep in, if you can deal with that and still succeed, it’s the X factor.”

I have no doubt that attitude is a big factor in dealing with a long grind of a season. But if Dickerson couldn’t hit the cover off the ball — which he did in the minors, at least — all the grit in the world isn’t going to help him help the Rockies win baseball games. And if he can’t handle center field, as opposed to his natural position in left, he can grind all he wants. He’ll just be grinding two or three steps short of those balls in the gap which are his responsibility to track down.

Absent extreme attitude deficiencies, which Fowler has never been reported to have, what Dickerson does or Fowler could have done to help the Rockies win are functions of baseball skill and performance, not their gritty-grinding-gutter-wrestling-ways. But hey, if it helps people accept the trade of an otherwise effective player and the installation of a guy who may not be able to handle the position, well, any cliches at hand, I suppose.

  1. renaado - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    Bad Move ! Bad Move !…. I’m hoping they have an another option for this. A Better option that is.

  2. icanspeel - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    is the NL West turning into the grit and wrestling division? Padres vs Dodgers brawl, Quentin vs Greinke, then Diamondbacks and their grit with a brawl vs Dodgers and now Rockies want to jump in and have grit for a fight. This is baseball right?

    • paperlions - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Yeah, this dangerous stupidity appears to be contagious and needs to be contained before it becomes an epidemic.

      Maybe the complete lack of grit in LA will help.

      Interesting, Arizona “protected” their hitters by hitting 3 LA batters in Australia, but still lost….I guess they need to hit more guys or wrestle in more gutters or something. I mean, I would suggest hitting and pitching better, but those don’t appear to be solutions.

  3. yahmule - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Dexter had his flaws as a player, but his attitude was certainly not one of them. This is simply a case of a team trying to save face after a bad trade made for economic reasons. You can expect company shill Tracy Ringolsby to chime in with more of the same.

    This is the front office that spent the other part of its off season blocking first base from both defensive nightmare Michael Cuddyer and top hitting prospect Kyle Parker by signing the visibly disintegrating Justin Morneau to that stupid contract.

    • stex52 - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      There was an article in the Houston Chronicle that had the GM explaining that he “loved the kid” but implied very strongly that Fowler had trouble keeping his head in the game for the long grind of the season. Fowler, when asked about it, took some offense. And apparently the GM made a point of saying he was quoted out of context and calling to apologize.

      I don’t know much about Rockies’ management and I can’t really claim to know Fowler as a player yet. But the trade was panned from the Colorado side when it went down. And now it sounds like you have some front office rationalization going on now.

      I’m not expecting a superstar, but I do expect Fowler to be an improvement in the Houston outfield. And by most accounts he is a fairly classy guy, too.

  4. chacochicken - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Question: Would a dirt-bag take amphetamines? Or would a gutter-wrestler attempt to have himself diagnosed with ADD/ADHD from a prescription mill for the adderall? Would that be gritty?

    What do the players who don’t try hard consistently or play the game the “right way” have in common? I’ll have to start making a list.

  5. kingscourt25 - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    “You want the Rockies to bring a dirt-bag attitude that can wrestle with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the gutter, then Dickerson is your center fielder”

    Ummm

    • yahmule - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      Has anyone asked Corey if he knows he signed up for this? I’m pretty sure his childhood dream was to play baseball, not, you know, gutter wrestling.

  6. Bob - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    This is what happens when general columnists decide to write on baseball. And it’s what happens when you have a front office that doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing.

  7. tysonpunchinguterus - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    They still have miles to go before they catch up to the Diamondbacks’ grit. The food spread in the Arizona locker room consists of one thing: grits. And don’t go trying to fancy them up with trendy foods or anything like that. They’ll trade your ass first chance they get.

  8. sportsdrenched - Mar 25, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Watch for the new advanced stat developed in Arizona call fGRIT to measure a players grittiness.

    • Patrick R. - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      Baseball-Reference must still be working on their formula for rGRIT.

    • Jeremy Fox - Mar 25, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      It was done years ago:

      http://www.flotsam-media.com/2007/12/flotsam-data-special-tangiblizing.html

      Always glad to have an excuse to link to this, it’s possibly the best thing in the history of things. :-)

      • sportsdrenched - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        That is outstanding!

  9. unclemosesgreen - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Too bad the Rockies got rid of a face when all they had to replace him was a jabroni.

  10. steveohho - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    Yeah, just look at Corey Dickerson. That sure is a gritty looking guy. One knows true grit when they see it.

    • doctornature - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      Maybe some know ‘true grit’ when they see it, but is it the TRUE True Grit, with John Wayne, or the Fake True Grit with Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges?

  11. jrob23 - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Fowler is average at best and they have Barnes, Dickerson, or Wheelers to step in. Those shoes will not be hard to fill. Good move Rockies, ignore the morons

    • bolweevils2 - Mar 26, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      I don’t think the ridicule generally has to do with the move per se. So they decided to go for more offense at the expense of defense, fine. It’s the ridiculous claiming it had something to do with grit that everyone is mocking.

  12. Patrick R. - Mar 25, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    What’s so odd is the sort of night and day divide between the NL West and AL West. It’s as if it embodies some sort of larger conflict within the culture of the American West. You have some of baseball’s most brilliant minds in the AL West in Billy Beane, Jon Daniels, Jeff Luhnow, and (so I thought) Jack Z; but then in the NL West you have some of the game’s worst GMs in Ned Colletti, Brian Sabean, Kevin Towers, and whomever or whatever is running the Rockies’ organization. It’s weird out here, folks. I won’t speculate as to what this could be representative of in the culture of the American west, but I suppose it could symbolize something…

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      I think it’s because the sun sets later in the West, and they’re just getting the east coast’s used-up sun at that point. Fresh sunlight is important, you have to pick it at the peak to get really good sun.

      • Patrick R. - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:28 PM

        This is a valid point; although, even though it may be used up, we certainly get more of it than those on the east coast, as evidenced by our record droughts. Perhaps you can attribute this strange dichotomy to the lack of water.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        Well, the lack of water has been a problem ever since before Jake Gittes investigated the Water Wars. It’s not getting less problematic.

        Humans, huh? We’re an earth destroying viral pandemic that wears loafers.

      • Patrick R. - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        Forget it Moses; it’s Chinatown.

    • kingscourt25 - Mar 25, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      Get off your high horse. I hate the Giants, but Brian Sabean is the same guy that won 2 championships in 4 years and Ned Colletti Dodgers’ teams have been a success outside the McCourt bankrupt years.

      Kevin Towers is an idiot, but that’s about it. If anything, the American League Central have the worse GMs, maybe the NL East as well.

      • Patrick R. - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        Not sure if you know what high horse means, as I’m not on any high horse. I’m just making observations that most baseball pundits and insiders would agree with.

      • kingscourt25 - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        Well you deserve criticism when you make crappy comments.

      • Patrick R. - Mar 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        “Crappy”? What are you, 12?

    • Patrick R. - Mar 25, 2014 at 6:36 PM

      Surprised this was such an inflammatory comment. Wasn’t meant to offend or even insinuate anything negative about anyone’s favorite teams, just a general observation. I found it to be pretty uncontroversial. Two of my favorite teams are in the NL West.

  13. JP - Mar 25, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    The Rockies are a mess, and I’d never side with their front office… But Dexter is a bit aloof. He goes cold for very long stretches at the plate and is injury prone. He’s the worst base stealer you’ll ever see for a guy that fast. In short – he is a little bit “soft.”

    That said – he’d still be Colorado’s best option in CF if he was still on the team.

  14. dillongeeescapeplan - Mar 25, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    If he wasn’t gritty enough to be the Rockies CF, then surely he wasn’t gritty enough to start for the D-Backs’ AAA affiliate (Reno Aces).

  15. sfm073 - Mar 26, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    I would love to hear your own personal options craig. You focus way too much on what other writers have to say.

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