St. Louis Cardinals: Right field should start as a platoon
I respect the principle behind starting Dexter Fowler as a sign of loyalty, but he hasn’t shown the production for me to be comfortable for him to start out right to open the 2019 season for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Players in the later stages of their careers like Dexter Fowler normally don’t have to worry about Spring Training, but this was a different situation. Coming off of an awful 2018 season, most St. Louis Cardinals fans were not happy with the announcement that Fowler was going to be the starting right fielder, and Spring Training is the only chance he has to show that he has gotten over last year’s struggles.
Unfortunately, going 2 for 16 in 6 games is not exactly encouraging to that end. I know it is early to judge, but there is nothing that gives any credence to the assumption that Fowler will be able to rebound.
That isn’t saying that there is no chance that he will, but with the team seemingly making moves that gear the team for a one year push this season, the St. Louis Cardinals have to consider putting the team in the best situation to win each and every day from the get-go.
Right now, that means leaving Fowler on the bench. But I know the Cardinals aren’t going to do that, so here’s my compromise: platoon right field and allow things to pan out naturally. There is no clear answer based on Spring Training performance as to the immediate answer in right field, so allowing players to demonstrate their worth in the regular season is the team’s best bet
I’m not saying to switch them out every game and see who gets the most hits or anything like that. Give each guy a few games where they take 3 at-bats while giving the other two the other one over the course of the game.
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Whether its by starting one for the first inning and ceding the later game to the primary right fielder that day or by starting the primary right fielder and pinch hitting him late in the game, spreading out at-bats while not condemning players to the bench while other players get their chance to shine.
This will allow a player to stay steady mentally through struggles, knowing that they will get their chances in bunches even if they spend a few games on the bench following some struggles at the plate.
Of course, this plan comes with the purpose of selecting the most ideal starting right fielder, so at-bats will eventually be streamlined to one player as the season progresses. However, it will be because that player earned it through solid play, and not because other teammates struggled or because they were arbitrarily chosen.
Of course, I do hope that Dexter Fowler can put his game back together and perform for the St. Louis Cardinals, but it is counterproductive to the team and disrespectful to the fans who pay their hard earned money to support to start Fowler over someone who has earned the starting role (Jose Martinez), and someone who has great potential and could produce even more than either of his right field peers if given the room to grow (Tyler O’Neill).
The St. Louis Cardinals need to win this year, and they need to win as much as they can in this incredibly talented NL Central division. I know the Cardinals want to start Dexter Fowler, but he hasn’t shown that he has what it takes, and a slow start could doom this season’s chances. This arrangement is what I believe to be the fairest way to give all three potential right fielders the at-bats they deserve.