Demotion Sickness With Jason Heyward

There’s been a suggestion floated by some that the Braves should send struggling and injury-plagued future star Jason Heyward down to the minors for a brief time.

I don’t believe this to be a ludicrous idea as others do, but there are several obstacles of them making the move. They don’t have anyone to replace him nor his penchant for getting on base and the threat he poses in the lineup whether he’s hitting or not. It might work or it might send him into a funk and make things worse—that depends on the individual. And his struggles have had as much to do with injury as they have with a sophomore slump or failure to adjust.

It’s unfair to criticize the Braves developmental apparatus given the number of young players—Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann, Tommy Hanson—who’ve been homegrown, but the hype surrounding the predicted greatness for Heyward was always a portent for potential disaster.

The same thing happened with Jeff Francoeur as he was labeled a “can’t miss” superstar and was treated as such from the time he was a kid all the way up to the big leagues; the flaws in his game were conveniently glossed over as Frenchy’s “way”. That he never walked and was a Sports Illustrated coverboy after having been catered to his whole life as a multi-sport star only exacerbated the problems when he struggled and eventually was demoted.

That demotion highlighted a rift between GM Frank Wren and then-manager Bobby Cox. Francoeur was being punished for doing the same things he was feted for when they were working and he was understandably offended in a self-important and arrogant sort of way.

But that’s what they created by continually giving him passes and not correcting that which needed to be addressed.

He was in the minors for a few days and immediately recalled, rendering the maneuver pointless in both execution and practice.

Heyward’s a better player than Francoeur, but Francouer was—at the very least—durable; Heyward has been prone to injuries and it’s worrisome.

If there was a veteran solution to place in right field in his absence, sending Heyward down for a few weeks to get comfortable at the plate and to make sure he’s healthy wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but there isn’t.

Sending him to the minors now would do more harm than good to the player and the team.

I was a guest on the latest Red State Blue State podcast. It’s entertainment in its purest form.

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  1. #1 by fjrabon on July 20, 2011 - 12:39 pm

    There wasn’t a rift between Cox and Wren. I’ve never seen anywhere else that suggestion. IF anything, Wren went out of his way to appease Bobby by trading Yunel Escobar, a player that Wren liked and Bobby hated.

    Also, the sending Heyward to the minors thing was totally predicated around the Braves trading for Beltran, which has almost 0 chance of happening. It was concocted almost solely by Mark Bowman, who when doing analysis says things like Juan Pierre would be a great fit for the Braves, and when he’s doing reporting, basically just reports whatever the Braves PR execs feed him.

    During the run up to a trade deadline, the GM’s basically use their beat reporters and Buster Olney to spread misinformation. This is why we are seeing things like the Braves reported infatuation with Jordan Schafer. It might be genuine, but it’s just as likely to be posturing because they don’t want to seem desperate for a CF. Same thign with sending Heyward to the minors. It’s either Bowman just thinking out loud, which he’s not very good at, or he’s being planted misinformation because the Braves aren’t worried about lowering Heyward’s trade value, but would love to bump up the trade value of Schafer.

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