While serving as the Rockies' primary leadoff hitter last season, Dexter Fowler whiffed 105 times in 492 plate appearances. That's a strikeout rate of 21.3 percent -- only a little bit higher than the league-average rate of 19.9 percent, but still more than you want from your leadoff guy.
Carlos Gonzalez, who has spent some time in that spot himself in previous years, took notice.
"Dexter was good for us," Gonzalez recently told Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "But he struck out a lot too."
I like it when players are candid. It gives me something to write about and react to. But for whatever reason, people in baseball clubhouses and others firmly entrenched in the game are not fans of this sort of stuff -- this "public airing of dirty laundry," if you will. Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd hasn't really been one to abide by that unwritten rule, as evidenced by his trashing of Fowler shortly before dealing him to the Houston Astros, and it appears it's something he's passed onto his players.
Ubaldo Jimenez took exception to comments made by Troy Tulowitzki prior to the 2012 season and promptly pelted him with a fastball when his Indians faced Tulo's Rockies in spring training that year. Will Fowler and the Astros feel the same about CarGo's comments? Who knows.
I don't necessarily feel that what CarGo said is that big of a deal, nor do I think he's wrong, because he's not. The proof is there. However, the inner circle of baseball historically eats this stuff up, so that is what elevates situations like this into the "notable things to keep an eye on" category.
As for the Rockies' leadoff conundrum heading into 2014, I'm of the opinion it would be best settled by putting Gonzalez in that spot. Yes, he struck out at a career-high rate (27.1 percent) last season and was among the league leaders in that category before the finger injury, but he's still going to get on base at a higher clip than any of the other options, and that's really what it's all about. Plus, he's a threat to leave the yard every single time he steps in the batter's box, and there's certainly nothing wrong with getting that from your No. 1 hitter.