It’s hard to imagine the week Dexter Fowler has had. On the heels of a terrible start to the season and seeing his playing time dwindle, Fowler left the Cardinals to have a wonderful moment with his family and welcome the birth of his second child. While he was gone, his own team president went on the radio and questioned Fowler’s effort, energy, and hustle, and how those things were impacting his performance. And now he has to return to the team and face questions about what his own organization said about him.
To his credit, Fowler was not shy about saying what was on his mind, and he wasn’t going to pull on any fake rah-rah team levers just to cover over the shameful way he was treated:
Dexter Fowler was quite open in his comments. Said he spoke with Mo and Bill DeWitt. He wants to play. Paused for a long time when asked if he enjoys being a St. Louis Cardinal and admitted it has been up and down.
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) July 5, 2018
“My effort has always been there,” says Dexter Fowler, reacting to John Mozeliak’s comments publicly for the first time. “That’s out of the question. These guys in here know. They’re the ones texting me, saying it’s bull****. I’m playing as hard as I can.” #STLCards
— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) July 5, 2018
The troubles, it seems, go deeper than just what Mozeliak said, and it sure seems like the two sides are going to part eventually:
A strained relationship, to say the least. Can it be rebuilt? Doubtful. https://t.co/qlgiqbbnP6
— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) July 6, 2018
In that article, Saxon reports, per sources, that Mozeliak was actually a Fowler supporter for a long time, and it is manager Mike Matheny with whom Fowler does not speak, and apparently hasn’t for months. It makes you wonder just how much of the rift going on starts there with the manager.
It’s not hard to imagine Fowler’s style clashing with Matheny’s (and flourishing in a Joe Maddon-led clubhouse (just sayin’)), and we all said as much when the pair married up last year. What works for Fowler and Maddon – fun-loving, laid back, just play – seems a tough fit for a Matheny clubhouse. I won’t pretend to be an obsessive observer of all things Cardinal, but Matheny is now in his 7th year as manager of the team. You get a sense in that time.
Meanwhile, this is the kind of thing being written about Fowler in St. Louis today:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 6, 2018
There is something fundamentally bothersome about the way that reads, and it lays against a backdrop that has seen the Fowlers treated inconsistently, at best, by both the fans and the organization that they joined last year.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I continue to be (1) glad Fowler got paid, and (2) sad that it’s been a completely awful experience ever since. Other free agents will take note. Hopefully Fowler is let go sooner rather than later, finds a better fit out there, and succeeds again, smiling in the general direction of St. Louis the entire way.
(The obligatory response to the question you want to ask: were he outright released by the Cardinals, and thus could be signed for the pro-rated minimum, do I think he’d fit with the Cubs? Well, assuming he can be him again, it’s hard not to say you’d find a way. At worst, he’s a quality bench option (assuming he’s OK with that in Chicago), and depth to prevent against injury. The rub is that the roster is tight, and Fowler is going to know there isn’t much starting time to be had with the Cubs right now. So there would probably be much better options out there for him.)