Yesterday, the Cubs picked up one of the best fits for their needs in Dexter Fowler, and the addition might be the capper on a really successful few months.
Those are my takes on the addition, but let’s see what folks elsewhere are saying about the trade …
- Well, the man, himself, is excited about it. Dexter Fowler told MLB.com: “I envisioned myself when I first went to the Astros to help the young guys and see what comes. It’s tough leaving my teammates and relationships I’ve built, but going to a young team like that is awesome.” If it sounds like Fowler could be a good influence, check out this read from the Houston Chronicle about the bond between Fowler and young star George Springer, or this read from the Chronicle about the mentoring Fowler provided to Jonathan Singleton.
- The ZiPS projection was already released for the Astros, so Fowler is on there. Obviously this is in Houston and pre-trade, but, in case you were wondering: .258/.359/.394. I’d take it.
- Eno Sarris at FanGraphs looks at the deal as each of the Cubs and Astros putting themselves in a little better position in 2015 to compete – because why not? – and dealing from positions of depth on the big league roster to address positions of weakness on the big league roster. Sarris is a little higher on Dan Straily than most, for which I won’t bag on him, but I will point out that, absent about three pitching trades and three other injuries, Straily had no shot of making the Cubs out of Spring Training. From there, he becomes depth at Iowa – something the Cubs have in spades – and you hope his velocity returns (which it did not last year). I’m not going to say Straily was of absolutely no value to the Cubs, but he makes much more sense as an inclusion in a deal like this than as a guy the Cubs try to find innings for at the big league level. The picked him up as a flyer last year, saw what he could do, but also saw Tsuyoshi Wada, grabbed Jacob Turner and Felix Doubront because they became available, and also saw more of Eric Jokisch and Dallas Beeler.
- A great read from Tommy Cooks at Cubs Insider about the (probable) fallibility of defensive metrics when evaluating Fowler’s D in center field – the advanced metrics presently say Fowler has been, for his career, something between bad and historically awful. Tommy takes a different angle to evaluating Fowler’s defense, and comes away with the impression that it’s probably league average or better. I think we’re going to find that Fowler’s defensive track record is the subject of extensive debate until we get a couple months into the season and have a better sense for ourselves. Based on how much the Cubs gave up to get him, and how the outfield configuration shakes out with him in the fold, I’m pretty sure the Cubs, at least, believe he’s fully capable of playing center. If not, the days when he’s in center and Chris Coghlan is in left could be adventurous.
- (For my part, I wonder what the impact has been of playing in two very large, difficult outfields so far in his career at Coors Field and then Minute Maid Park. Contrast with Wrigley Field, which, because of the short alleys, is a fairly easy center field. We’ll see.)
- More on the defensive angle over at Cubs Den. These are all good reads if you really like digging in.
- The FanGraphs standings projections were updated this morning, and the Cubs bumped up to 84 wins from 83. That’s actually tied for the 8th highest win total in baseball. Projections. Are. Conservative.
- Fowler’s hitting coach in Houston last year, by the way, was John Mallee – the Cubs’ new hitting coach. I’m sure it will be nice for Fowler to have that familiarity and prior working relationship.
- Baseball Prospectus has a comprehensive take on the deal from both sides.
- Although this is from last April, it is relevant here: one analysis concluded that Fowler has the best batting eye in all of baseball. Sure, he’s got some swing and miss, but, generally speaking, he knows which pitches to swing at and which ones to take.
- Curious to see what Astros fans/bloggers are saying about the deal? You get can a flavor here. From where I sit, they’re really underestimating Valbuena, and focusing way too much on Straily. But, hey, maybe that’s my own bias sliding in.
- Perhaps the most important item of all:
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) January 19, 2015