Porter calls Fowler 'great acquisition' for Astros
Manager pleased with young outfielder's character, may bat him leadoff
HOUSTON -- Before the Astros pulled the trigger to acquire center fielder Dexter Fowler from the Rockies earlier this week, manager Bo Porter made sure he had done his homework on the player to determine whether he would be a good fit.
Houston got Fowler and a player to be named from Colorado on Tuesday in exchange for starting pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes. Porter said it was a big price to pay, but he believes Fowler will be a great addition to the lineup in 2014.
"You're adding a three-way guy to the mix of your ballclub, and you're looking at a guy who's been highly productive at the Major League level," Porter said. "He's a switch-hitter, he can really go get them in the outfield. He can steal a base and hit for power, hit for average. The on-base [percentage] is around .370. It adds a dynamic to our ballclub that will fit in quite well with the young core pieces that have established themselves."
Fowler, 27, hit .263 with 18 doubles, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, 65 walks and a .369 on-base percentage in 119 games with Colorado last season, starting 106 games in center. In 2012, he hit .300 in 143 games, with a .389 on-base percentage.
Porter said he called some people he knew in the game about Fowler to find out more about him. One of those was former Major League outfielder Glenallen Hill, who's a close friend of Porter's and manages in the Rockies' system.
"We know a lot of common people, and I took the time to do my research beyond just what I knew about him on the surface, and the people I crossed paths with, they absolutely raved about not only Dexter the baseball player, but the man and the person," Porter said. "He's a grounded young man, very astute at what it is he would like to accomplish. He's a great teammate. It's a great acquisition for our ballclub, and I believe he's going to pay huge dividends."
Porter hinted -- not surprisingly -- Fowler would likely lead off next season, which should be a big improvement from 2013. The Astros' leadoff hitters -- a group that included Jose Altuve, Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Villar -- had a combined on-base percentage of .310 last season. Fowler's on-base percentage last season was .369.
"You look at the overall body of work, he's definitely a guy who profiles at the top of the lineup," Porter said. "It's an area of our ballclub we had our struggles at trying to find a consistent leadoff bat in front of Altuve. Dexter gives us great options to have, but it all depends on what else happens this offseason. He is definitely one of the guys we would give serious consideration to occupying the leadoff spot and giving us stability at the top of the lineup."
Porter said the Astros are in the market to upgrade their bullpen and add a veteran starting pitcher. They would also like to add another bat to the lineup through a trade or free agency. Both general manager Jeff Luhnow and Porter talk like men who believe another deal is imminent.
"We still have some other options in which we are looking at, and over the next week or so, we're going to see acquisitions join our ballclub that really start to push us in that direction of really competing each and every day and having the players that give us a great opportunity to go out and win," Porter said.
The Winter Meetings begin Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., so expect the Astros to make some more news.