Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Heyward, Stardom and Expectations

Hello from balmy Atlanta where yesterday I attended the Braves Hall of Fame induction of John Smoltz, spent too much money on souvenirs, found out the new steak sandwich at the Ted is overrated and watched the Braves beat the Jays in 10 innings sparked by Jason Heyward’s hitting and Marin Prado’s continuously improving glove work at third base. The Jays made some unforgivable mistakes – I actually felt sorry for young Chad Beck when the balk was called – the fatal one, an inexplicable attempt to throw out Jason Heyward when he was already nearly at third. All that aside I made some comments on Hey ward this morning over on David O’Brien’s blog and when I finished decided I needed to share them here as well.

The Burden of Expectations

Many of you will have read Carlos’ post on Jason Heyward and if you haven’t you should do that. In comment I made a point that in spite of selective sabermetrics being used to prove otherwise, there isn’t a boatload of difference in the play of Jason Heyward and that of Jeff Francoeur in his first three years. Yet some fans consider Heyward a flop if he gets into a slump while others consider him the next Roberto Clemente or Willie Mays when he’s hot. In reading various blogs it occurred to me that no one has said it’s okay not to be the next superstar. In that vein I posted the following (without the title of course, DoB doesn’t allow that  and edited for better grammar here ).

It’s Okay To Just Be Jason

In a DoB Blog Music seems appropriate, so with apologies to Jerry Reed:

When you’re hot you’re hot, when you’re not you’re not . . .

Thus goes Jason Heyward and most young players. Someone needs to say that it’s perfectly acceptable for him to be Jason Heyward whatever that turns out to be and not Roberto Clemente,Willie Mays or any others he’s been compared to. He has his faults as every player does and he will probably ditch some of them as he matures. His swing gets too long and has holes and he’s pull happy. If he had been ready to accept what he was given when he came up with the bases loaded and used his opposite field swing – the one he showed off so much as a rookie – we’d have scored at least two. I was looking from behind Jason and right down the left field line, their left fielder was nearly in left center and it would have gone all the way to the wall. But he was looking for something to drive middle in and passed on what looked to be a very good pitch. It happens.

Popping up in foul territory to the third baseman wasn’t great use of his talent and exposed his swing. He’s done that before or hit into double plays rolling over a pitch instead of driving it. That too happens.

Jason Heyward is young and he will get better but, the unrealistic expectations of super stardom some place on his shoulders need to be dialed back so he has the chance to grow without being expected to carry the team. One day he may, right now he’s a streaky young outfielder who now and then forgets everyone isn’t happy with a single and scared of his arm. He does run some bad routes that his athleticism and speed – and on more than one occasion his wingspan – help him recover from.
Having “expert fans” (an oxymoron to be sure) swinging from “he’s awful” when he’s slumping to “He’s the next Roberto Clement” when he’s hot is ridiculous,and shows a lack of baseball acumen. He’s got great tools, he’s young, healthy now and a great guy. Allow him to be all those things and when you decide he should be Mays, Clemente or whoever instead of Jason, remember what you were doing at 22 years old with less that 3 years in your first big job.

Jason’s career will be what Jason makes of it, not what you, I or some scout thinks it should be. And that’s perfectly okay.

That’s a Wrap

I don’t expect Heyward to be Mays or Clemente nor do I expect him to vanish like Shane Spencer. I’ve been critical of him in the past and will be again when I feel it’s appropriate.  Let me know what you think either in comments here or on Twitter @fredeowens.


Miscellaneous Stuff

(Okay it’s unwrapped… as I was getting ready to publish this I found some notes worth sharing then my battery died. Herewith a charged battery allows me to publish the post along with those items.)

I just saw that the the Phillies had once again outrighted Pete Orr to AAA. Orr should be considered as a replacement for Jack Wilson. Orr is a better hitter (now that Seattle decided not to give back Wilson’s bat), more versatile, and younger. With Andrelton Simmons established at short we need infield cover that can hit. Orr started in Atlanta and oddly enough is just now first year arbitration eligible.

The Cardinals released Scott Linebrink. Linebrink injured himself in spring training and never pitched for St Louis. Perhaps he can join his buddy Scott Proctor and several others who have recently found a home in South Korean baseball. His days of effective relief work in the majors are over.

The Red Sox designated Marlon Byrd for assignment. I mention this because many wanted the Braves to trade for him; thank goodness we didn’t. Byrd is a mediocre to poor outfielder these days and seems to have lost most of his bat savvy too. For the Sox his line was .273/.288/.333, for the Cubs 070/.149/.070. Against right handers this year he’s .149/.188/.160/.348. He makes Matt Diaz look like a slugger. Maybe the Phillies could use him. . .

Our old friend Kevin Millwood threw six shutout innings last night for Seattle before leaving with an injury. Five other pitchers finished the Mariners’ first shut out in a dogs age. Congrats Kevin, I didn’t know you still had it in you.

Andruw Jones hit the third of  back to back to back homers off Johan Santana last night proving once again he’s still got a good bat and that even when he’s in the American League he loves to beat the Mets. Andruw could talk expectations with Heyward. I wish him well.

Now I’m off to return the wrong sizes and and attempt to get to the Ted in time for a Sid Slid Bobblehead.

Tags: Jason Heyward

  • BCinAlabama

    I thought “expert fans” were called bloggers. ;-)

  • FredOwens

     @BCinAlabama Usually they’re the ones who comment on Blogs like AJC where there are so many comments flying in at once no one holds them accountable. When I make an incorrect assumption – Durbin since May 1 for example – I say sorry but at least I have reason for my conclusions most of the “experts” I’m talking about are just bomb throwers who would as my dad would have said, complain if they were hung with a new rope. :-)

  • FredOwens

     @BCinAlabama I just checked back at my original post on AJC. Completely ignored by everyone. They’re all busy arguing whether they would trade Jason for Harper and id our bench is good enough. Just ignore the man in the corner talking common sense, they’d rather trade Francisco for Wright and get the Mets to pay for it. Much more informed readers here, both of them :-)

  • BCinAlabama

    True about the AJC commentators.I avoid that section. most of those folks weaken the nation every time they speak.I was surprised to see you considering dumping Wilson. I have no issue with Wilson, but maybe it is time to look for maybe a more offensive option as backup, if they can find one.We shall see,

  • FredOwens

     @BCinAlabama I like Jack but somehow Seattle sucks the offense out of every free agent that signs there, Beltre, Wilson, Figgins; it’s amazing. The difference is that Beltre regained his stroke and Jack didn’t. The reason for backing up Rev wit Wilson was in case Reve couldn’t defend. I think Simmons has answered that question and s so the backup guy really needs to be someone who plays anywhere well and Orr does that.  They won’t do such a thing and I mistakenly thought Pete was 31, he’s 33 so there isn’t that big a difference after all. Franciscio really needs to play everyday if he’s going to hit. Prado’s shown that he’s now our best third baseman period. Since Chipper’s coming back and will play third and Prado will move in when Chipper’s off, we need to get a right handed left field bat of some kind. I’ve danced this dance before so I won’t mention Quentin. I think there’s a package of something like Minor Francisco and maybe JJ who we’ll nontender for Garza. Garza is exactly what the rotation needs with Huddy’s ankles, Beachy’s hiccups, tommy’s erratic start – though his last two have looked more the old Tommy – and Delgado’s youth. He’s an affordable #1 with big game chops. Once on board the rest can exhale and just pitch. But then, what do I know..:-)

  • Maestro_Mike

    I’ll admit, that I too went crazy last year preferring Constanza over Heyward last year during his struggles. Some of my criticism I think was fair, even though he (Heyward) was dealing with injury. I thought until Constanza hurt himself he provided what Jason wasn’t- OBP,speed and runs.
    With that being said, once you look at Heyward without the expectations of a home made bacon egg and cheese sandwich(the analogy isnt great- and it’s Sunday morning and IM HUNGRY-I know it’s a reach) you’ll realize that he NOT a bad player especially since he’s 22 and still has the potential to be MUCH better.
    Besides, it’s like guys who are unhappy with their wife after 10 years of marriage- who are you going to find better under your current circumstances?

    Also, I must just be evil- but I enjoy seeing our former mediocre bullpen guys g et creamed elsewhere. It’s like the ultimate screw you for me. No wait- it would be awesome to see them get clobbered in Japan too :)

  • FredOwens

     @Maestro_Mike When Jason was hurt and Georgie was hot I wanted him playing too. That’s not wrong. People who think there’s no such thing as a “hot hand” live in another world and have no experience in real world sports.  I like seeing the worn out Wren “must have veteran experience guys” having their ass handed to them. Proving we should never have signed them in the first place. You got one of those sandwiches going spare?