And now, Dexter Fowler is the latest victim.
What on earth am I blabbering on about? This. The candid comments made by Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd to 850 KOA's Dave Krieger about the team's starting center fielder. In addition to mentioning that the Rockies are "more willing to listen to calls about Dexter" than they were before, which is pretty big news in itself, O'Dowd went on to express his dissatisfaction with Fowler's intangibles:
"I think he's got to get tougher. No doubt. He's got to show up and play with an edge every day, not just when he thinks he has to. It's got to be that edge that he brings every day. He's got to be a passionate competitor in the game. He has to love the game. He's got to compete because he loves the game and he loves his teammates and he wants to win. It can't be for anything the game provides. It's got to be for those reasons."
Sigh. So, how will this one play out? Jimenez was traded a few months after pissing off O'Dowd by pouting and performing poorly following an offseason that saw the Rockies offer large contract extensions to Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, but not to the star pitcher. Iannetta, Smith and Stewart were dealt in a massive attempt to overhaul a team that O'Dowd described as, for lack of a better word, selfish.
Chacin and Tulowitzki seemed to be motivated by O'Dowd and the Rockies' public berating. Chacin, whose effort came into question prior to the 2012 season, came back from an injury he suffered early that year a new man and has posted a 3.38 ERA over his last 40 starts. Tulowitzki, by O'Dowd's admission, became more of a team player in 2013 after ownership described him as "being all about Tulo." He was on track for an MVP-level season before suffering yet another injury, but he seems to be on the right path again.
Christian Friedrich broke through and became a somewhat serviceable big-league starter after O'Dowd told our own Andrew Martin that the former first-round pick needed to care about baseball a little more. Maybe similar improvement will happen for Drew Pomeranz, whose toughness was also questioned, albeit to a lesser degree, by O'Dowd in the Krieger interview.
Ideally, O'Dowd should stop publicly outing his players. They probably don't appreciate it, but perhaps more importantly, agents and other players who might otherwise be interesting in playing for the Rockies might not think too highly of it. But, I digress.
Here's what I think happens with Fowler: the Rockies find themselves unable to get the value they seek in return, partially due to O'Dowd's comments scaring away potential suitors. However, not all is bad; Fowler will use the ammunition to put together his best -- and fullest -- season as a big-leaguer, leaving the Rockies with a big decision on their hands heading into 2015, which is Dex's final year under team control.
Or, it'll all backfire on O'Dowd. Fowler gets pissed, tries too hard, scuffles at the beginning of the season and drags the rest of the team down with him. That's just as likely of a scenario, and it's one that might spell the end of O'Dowd's tenure.
(That last part was a lie. He'll be here forever.)
In a story that's definitely on-topic, former Rockie Gabe Kapler writes about the catch-22 that is playing through pain.