There’s very little in the way of good news coming out of Cardinals camp to start off the week, as the Braves just finished a thorough three-game drubbing of the Birds at Busch Stadium…Headlines aren’t going to glow anytime you surrender 22 runs over a weekend, but the most troublesome recent tidbits deal with the still-struggling Dexter Fowler.
During his weekly interview with Dan McLaughlin, club president John Mozeliak stated he’s “had a lot of people” question Fowler’s “effort and his energy level,” which isn’t great to hear while discussing a player with a $82.5 million salary over five years.
Danny Mac discussed the topic further on Monday’s Bernie Show, saying he can sense team frustration regarding Fowler’s numbers, but calling Mo’s comments on the effort “glaring.”
“I think [Mozeliak’s] frustrated, clearly. He gave the guy five years and $82.5 million and year two has been, I don’t think there’s any other way to describe it; it just hasn’t been a good year, and they have tried to give him opportunity to work himself out of it,” McLaughlin said. “But I thought Mo’s comments about the hustle part were glaring, and I think that’s the part that stands out for everybody. And it’s been talked about on talk-shows; it’s been talked about among the media.
“Sometimes, I think, when you watch him play…and this is not to make excuses…I used to say this last year, and I don’t necessarily feel it all the time this year, so understand what I’m about to say,” he went on.
“He’s a big guy. He’s tall, he’s thin, and he’s got those long strides. And sometimes when I would watch him, I’d say, ‘Is the effort there?’ Just in my own mind, I would say that. Then I’d watch him and say, ‘Man, he got from first to third in the blink of an eye and it didn’t even look like he was trying.’ He glides. I don’t feel that way this year sometimes.”
No one knows exactly what’s going on with Fowler except Fowler and those closer to the situation, but it sounds like the right fielder and Mozeliak will share a down-to-brass-tax conversation in the near future if they haven’t already.
“If you say a pro athlete doesn’t care, that’s just not good,” Danny Mac added. “I didn’t hear Mo say that, but the lack of hustle thing; I think when you watch [Harrison] Bader go out there and play compared to Dexter at times, it’s glaring.
“There’s a lot to unpack there and it’s my understanding Mo is going to talk to him face to face. Now, whether or not that happened yesterday before the game or after the game, or at some point here this week, but they’re going to have a very serious heart-to-heart conversation to find out what’s going on.”
You can read McLaughlin’s thoughts on how the Cards will handle Fowler’s situation below, following by his entire 101 ESPN chat:
“I think if Dexter’s honest, you’ve got to look at the numbers and say, ‘Look, it just hasn’t been going well.’ And Bader has played at a remarkable level defensively. He’s outplaying him. So take money out of the equation and [Bader’s] been the better player. That’s just the way it is. This is survival of the fittest and if you take money out of the equation, the best players play.”
“There are multiple options, but there is also a reset chance for him. He’s going to be on the paternity list beginning tonight. You get away from baseball, get away from the club; you’ve got the All-Star Break coming up, a chance to get away again. You hit the reset button and say, ‘Look, this is what we’re expecting out of you. I know your expectations are high, too. Let’s go for it. Let’s get it going.’ That’s the way, maybe, that you approach it because you have a lot invested in him.”