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Monday Rockpile: Can Improvements From Stewart And Fowler Turn 2011 Around?

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Rockies' Tracy and Fowler are "on the same page" - The Denver Post

Another day, another meeting with the Manager. At least this wasn't another entire-team, closed-door meeting, I'm sick of hearing about those. Dexter Fowler, this time, met with the skipper of this battle-worn ship to discuss his future with the Rockies.

Since his promotion, Fowler hasn't really impressed much with the bat, still striking out too much, not getting good contact, things like that. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, as he's been in all of 3 games, but there's improvements that Fowler still needs to make before we're comfortable with him starting.

As has been the problem the past 2 seasons for Fowler, his switch-hitting splits aren't very good. From the right side, Fowler's been roughly a league-average bat (right around .750 OPS), but has been downright poor from the left side. A .333 OBP from the left isn't COMPLETELY terrible, but the low batting average and general lack of power from the left in 2011 have seriously hampered his overall offensive production. The upside is that with some decent fielding in CF (which surprisingly, UZR and TZ both agree on), he's not totally without value.

Having a solid Dexter Fowler in the lineup would likely improve the outfield situation in general. Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith aren't really going to be affected by this much (Carlos Gonzalez moving from LF to CF would be the only difference as far as they go), but Fowler deserving to be in the starting lineup would mean less of Ryan Spilborghs and Ty Wigginton in the starting lineup.

I've been high on Wigginton this season, but his past 2 weeks of play have been less than stellar, and moving him back to his forecasted super-utility role would come highly advised.

Of course, moving Wigginton back to a super-utility role would mean that Ian Stewart would have to pick up his game in a very real way, and since his promotion, we've seen just that. Excluding Sunday's 0-for-2, 2K game, Stewart has batted .290/.371/.452 since being called up, .417/.462/.750 in the past week. He's struck out in 7 of his 35 PA (again, excluding Sunday's numbers), which is obviously not great, but he's also hit 3 doubles and a triple while walking 4 times.

ZiPS projects Stewart as being a .237/.324/.434 bat the rest of the season. Obviously, this line won't fly if we want to even pretend that the Rockies have a shot at making the postseason. Stewart's going to have to post something like his line since being called up, and boost those power numbers a bit. A .290/.371/.490 line would still probably not be enough to really hail the guy as the salvation of the 2011 season, but it would at least give something for Stewart supporters to be happy about.

I refuse to put a fork in 2011 at this point. We have yet to see the best from Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, and a potential surge from these two along with any kinds of improvement from Stewart and Fowler would go a long way to aiding this team's October aspirations. I know the potential is there, but if reality doesn't start matching potential soon...well, the trade deadline is coming up on us quickly.

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