One man’s prediction: Heyward makes Opening Day roster

He hasn't played an inning, and they're already selling T-Shirts online

He hasn't played an inning, and there are already T-shirts available online

Dark Star, Fla. – Let me start by saying, I think Jason Heyward is going to be the Braves’ right fielder on opening day. There. I’m on the record.

We’ve got a night game today, first night game of the spring for the Braves, and if only Heyward could have saved that mammoth home run he hit yesterday for tonight’s televised game against the Phillies (I’m told the MLB network will pick up the CSS feed of the game – let me know if any of you hear differently.)

Heyward's going to play a lot of Sunday home games in Braves red this season.

Heyward's going to play a lot of Sunday home games in Braves red this season.

Don’t worry, he’ll be in the lineup tonight vs. the Phillies and Roy Halladay. “I’d get booed out of the ballpark if I don’t play him tomorrow,” manager Bobby Cox said after Monday’s game.

For any of you  who weren’t there — there were about 6,900 of us who bore witness — or haven’t seen the video, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there will be many more Heyward blasts in coming months and years.

(That said, I sure am glad I got back from a few days off just in time to see him hit his first homer, which was of appropriately legendary proportions, at least 450 feet and over the top of the palm trees in Lakeland.)

Anyway, about my thinking that he’s going to be on the opening day roster. It’s not so much the resounding results in a small sample size of Grapefruit League games that’s swayed my thinking. No, it’s not his .417 average, .611 OBP and .833 slugging percentage in 18 plate appearances over six games.

It has much more to do with the fact that, by all accounts, he’s a rare prospect who combines extraordinary physical tools with great instincts, maturity, intelligence and — last, not least — admirable work ethic and focus.

That, coupled with the fact that the Braves need his bat in their lineup and his glove and arm in right field, and also — big one — the manner by which team officials give every indication that he’s a special case where precedents may not apply.

You know, precedents such as certain teams keeping players in the minors until late May or early June to give them almost another full season of the player at a cheap price before he becomes eligible for arbitration. Or at least keeping them in the minors for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the season to avoid having the player accrue the full six years’ service time for free agency in his first six years in the majors – in effect giving the team almost another full season of the player’s services before free agency.

Maybe my thoughts will change in the next few weeks if I see or hear something that leads me to believe the Braves might do that. But so far, to the credit of team officials, they’ve said nothing along those lines, publicly or privately.

To me, it’s because they know that Heyward is so special — a once-in-a-generation talent — that he can help a team win right away, and they hope and plan on him being the face of the franchise for the next decade and more.

In which case, they might already have in mind making a multi-year contract offer well before he hits arbitration, much less before he’s closing in on free agency.

Keep in mind this isn’t a pitcher we’re talking about, a case where you’d be cautious offering a six-year contract to a talented arm that is only one major shoulder injury away from being an albatross deal for your organization.

A dealer out of Cincinnati is selling prints of Heyward "not signed by Mr. Heyward"

A dealer out of Cincinnati is selling prints of Heyward "not signed by Mr. Heyward"

This is a big, strong kid who’s as close to can’t-miss as you will find, the No. 1-rated prospect in baseball, a guy who doesn’t have to rely on one skill – speed, power, defense — to be a productive big-league player for a long time.

In other words, if he badly tears a hamstring, there’s no reason to believe Heyward can’t come back and still be a multi-year All-Star.

He’s got that much going for him. So many pluses — and no negatives to speak of, at least not that stand out so far.

If you’re going to offer this kid a deal that would presumably dwarf the six-year, $27.8 million contract the Braves gave Brian McCann a few springs ago, then ultimately that extra year of arbitration or free agency just isn’t important in the big picture.

I’m just speculating here, thinking aloud, but maybe the Braves offer such a long-term deal to Heyward before his second season in the majors? Considering the $10 million record arb salary that Ryan Howard got two years ago in his first time through arbitration, you can imagine how a Heyward deal would have to far surpass the deal the Braves gave McCann, which includes an additional $12 million option for 2013 in what would have been the All-Star catcher’s second free-agent year.

(Of course, it should be noted that Howard amassed an absurd 105 home runs and 285 RBIs over the previous two seasons. Heyward and no one else is going to approach that anytime soon, I dare say.)

I don’t even want to guess aloud about the amount it would take to secure Heyward for that long. I’m just suggesting, the Braves might intend to make him a multi-year offer long before arb or free agency, making the arguments about Super 2 and eventual free agency a lot less relevant.

Winning this season in Bobby Cox’s final year as manager, snapping a four-year postseason-less streak, might also be factors deemed more important than an extra potential year of affordability in the event that the sides can’t agree to a long-term deal.

If you don’t think the Braves know how disappointed their fans would be if Heyward has a great spring and is still not on the opening-day roster, then you’re not giving them enough credit. They have to know that. They do know that.

Think about this: Why wouldn’t team officials, if they had any intentions of keeping Heyward in Triple-A at the beginning of the season, at least couch all the glowing reviews of the kid? Instead of setting up those fans for potential disappointment on opening day if he’s not here, why wouldn’t team officials add caveats, by following all the kudos with something like, “Yeah, but he’s got fewer than 200 at-bats above A-ball, and there just haven’t been many kids have success in the majors after being drafted out of high school and having so little experience in the high minors.”

They wouldn’t be fibbing about that, by the way. There really haven’t been. As I’ve written here before, in the past decade, only Rocco Baldelli was drafted out of high school, made an opening-day major league roster with fewer than 200 at-bats above A-ball, and succeeded enough to stick with the big-league club.

In the 1990s, Alex Rodriguez got to the majors at 18 after only 178 at-bats above A-ball. But A-Rod’s debut came in a late-season callup, which is something else entirely from making an opening day roster and being a lineup regular.

Also, A-Rod got 214 more at-bats in Triple-A the following season before he went to the majors for good. But he was still only 19 when he got to The Show and stayed there.

Heyward is 20, and, as noted, mature beyond his years. Seriously, I’m not just parroting a line on that one. Talk to the kid for any length, and you might come away thinking what I did, something like, “Did I just talk to a 20-year-old who sounds more mature than I was at 30? Yes, I did.”

Before A-Rod got to Seattle, Ken Griffey Jr. already owned the town. And he might be a precedent worth considering. (No pressure on Heyward there, right? Just comparing him to a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer? Hey, sorry, kid.)

Anyway, Griffey started out the 1989 season in the majors in 1989 at 19, after only 61 at-bats in Double-A and no Triple-A experience to speak of.

That rookie season, the teen-aged Junior hit .264 with 16 homers, 61 RBI, 16 RBI, a .329 OBP and .420 slugging percentage (.749 OPS) in 127 games.

The following season, at 20, Griffey hit .300 with 22 homers, 80 RBI, a .366 OBP and .481 slugging percentage (.847 OPS), an American League All-Star and Gold Glove winner and 19th-place finisher in the MVP balloting.

The year after that, he was up to .327/.399/.527 (.926) with 100 RBIs as a seasoned 21-year-old, and had his first top-10 MVP finish.

Is Heyward the next Junior? Is J-Hey the next A-Rod? Who knows? It’d be crazy to put that kind of expectations on the kid.

But barring injury, I am comfortable saying he’s going to be the next Braves superstar. As I’ve said, he has the best package of all-around skills I’ve seen since Vlad Guerrero came up with the Expos.

Only here’s the thing: Heyward has the mental skills to match. I can’t say with certainty how prepared Guerrero was for stardom or handling pressure or making adjustments, etc., but from what I’ve been told by people over the years, he was lacking in some of those areas and overcame deficits with sheer, amazing skill.

Heyward is not lacking in any of those areas. At least not from anything I’ve seen or anything I’ve heard from people who’ve been around him a lot more than any reporters have been around him.

I was chatting with bullpen coach Eddie Perez about Heyward yesterday over in Lakeland, before the game and before Heyward hit his titanic homer that jolted the crowd, young and old – there were a lot of elderly — alike.

Eddie’s a savvy dude who sees everything going on around him, notices little things about players that might help or hinder them in the future.

“I know he can hit, but you see the way he’s playing right field, and he can run the bases,” Perez said. As for Heyward’s now-legendary batting practice sessions, he said, “Everybody stops what they’re doing to watch him hit.”

But Perez said there’s so much more that’s impressed him and others, so much that separates Heyward from many other young standouts — more than the dented cars and smashed sunroof that were the result of his batting-practice bombs.

“He’s a very smart guy who wants to learn,” Perez said. “He belongs here. This is it. This is where he wants to be, and I’m glad we have him.

“He works hard. Somebody asked me who’s the hardest worker on the team, and I mentioned his name. He gets to the park early, goes about his business the right way. Yesterday [Sunday] he wasn’t playing, and he went out to the bullpen to watch the game. I said, ‘Dude, you can go home if you’re not playing.’

“He said, ‘No, I want to watch the game.’ It’s hard to find that in a young guy.”

Braves line ‘em up tonight vs. Phillies:

1. McLouth CF

2. Prado 2B

3. Jones 3B

4. Glaus 1B

5. McCann C

6. Escobar SS

7. Heyward RF

8. Cabrera LF

9. Kawakami RHP

Yes,  it looks like it could be the opening day lineup, sans KK.

son-volt

“WINDFALL” by Jay Farrar (Son Volt)

Now and then it keeps you runnin’

Never seems to die

Trails spin with fear

And not enough livin’ on the outside

Never seem to get far enough

Stayin’ in between the lines

Hold on to what you can

Waitin’ for the end

Not knowin’ when

May the wind take your troubles away

May the wind take your troubles away

Both feet on the floor

Two hands on the wheel

May the wind take your troubles away

Tryin’ to make it far enough

To the next time zone

Few and far between past the midnight hour

You never feel alone

You’re really not alone

Switchin’ it over to am

Searchin’ for a truer sound

Can’t recall the call letters

Steel guitar and settle down

Catchin’ an all night station

Somewhere in louisiana

It sounds like 1963

But for now it sounds like heaven

May the wind take your troubles away

May the wind take your troubles away

Both feet on the floor

Two hands on the wheel

May the wind take your troubles away

May the wind take your troubles away

May the wind

Take your troubles away

1,116 comments Add your comment

Nelson S.

March 9th, 2010
2:16 pm

I’ll ask again. Any idea on how they’ll split the team up for two Sunday’s games? Thanks

joerochester

March 9th, 2010
2:17 pm

Smack

March 9th, 2010
2:19 pm

Bold prediction DOB (not really)….

Venice Jim

March 9th, 2010
2:20 pm

If anyone cares, Frank Wren rescheduled 680 interview for tomorrow…

sidslidkid

March 9th, 2010
2:21 pm

That aint just one man’s prediction…

Michael in England

March 9th, 2010
2:21 pm

chuck

March 9th, 2010
2:22 pm

The only thing that would have ended this blog more perfectly would have been a nod to Porch Song by Widespread Panic…havin a good time, here today, watchin the sun shine, etc….

Up here in DC we are finally out of the snowbanks and into the 60s…

Glad to see all my points regarding sensibly approaching a future with a megastar made here DOB….

Isenberg

March 9th, 2010
2:22 pm

CB

March 9th, 2010
2:24 pm

Let’s just sit back and enjoy.

chuck

March 9th, 2010
2:25 pm

And DOB, I am in agreement with recognizing ARod’s 5 tool abilities and potential HOFness at 20, but what about one Junior Griffey?

I drafted him in 1989 and he hit a couple bombs in the first week of his career…if not for falling in the shower, he would have done better in the power dept….but he was all that and a bag of Utz

Rob from SC

March 9th, 2010
2:26 pm

It is hard to listen to Rob Dibble

And Roodge Owns

March 9th, 2010
2:26 pm

DOB, when you posted that youtube of Jay doing “Methamphetamine” a while back, I went crazy over it and called a buddy asking if he knew him or Son Volt. He said yeah, and that there was this one song about the wind taking your troubles away that had “knocked his **** in the dirt driving down the road listening to a progressive radio station” one night. Cool to see it pop here.

bigchiefrg

March 9th, 2010
2:27 pm

Awesome…I made the same argument with a post right after you said NEW BLOGGAGE. Well sort of. Since DOB is a much better writer than me (like comparing Chuck James to Randy Johnson), he made the points way better than I did. The only point I would add–I think Heyward is intelligent enough to see through it all and I think the Braves realize that. Another reason they would work something out very soon and quickly.

Falcons need more jive talking players.

March 9th, 2010
2:28 pm

He’ll be a huge bust. If he does make the roster, he will be down to Gwinnett by July.

David Keller

March 9th, 2010
2:29 pm

Thanks, DOB for all the work you do. I don’t post often, but come here daily to see what you have to say. Please keep up the good work!

DAP

March 9th, 2010
2:31 pm

floridas state motto: ask us about our grandkids.

Harold from Huntsville

March 9th, 2010
2:31 pm

I believe Jason said in an interview that he had rather start at AAA and come up than start with the Braves and have to go back to AAA. That issue will probably settle itself on the field by the time Spring Training ends. I am a little surprised how much Braves management has talked up his making the team out of spring training if they do not believe there is a good chance of signing him to a long term contract. He does have the potential to bring a lot of people to the ball park in Atlanta.

DHD

March 9th, 2010
2:31 pm

Are there any other players in camp for the Braves?

gobravez

March 9th, 2010
2:32 pm

awesome blog DOB!

bravesgrl4life

March 9th, 2010
2:33 pm

Yeah, Florida’s population is pretty gray. I grew up right in the middle of the state and it was that way 30 years ago. Even worse now.

jim

March 9th, 2010
2:34 pm

sounds like the second coming of Jeff Francoeur and we all know how that one turned out…

Mark

March 9th, 2010
2:35 pm

You don’t find too many players who are 5 tooled. Unfortunately unless the kid hits .285/20/80 people are going to consider it a disappointing season. The major league season is a long one. How will he deal with his first major league slump? His first injury? How will he adjust when major league pitchers see the film on him and his tendencies? There are alot of factors that people aren’t taking into account.

PopeVanIII

March 9th, 2010
2:35 pm

FJR

March 9th, 2010
2:35 pm

Now, you can make the argument that he should be there on opening day, however, I don’t understand the point that signing a long term deal makes whether or not he’s an arbitration player in 2016 or a FA in 2016 irrelevant. It doesn’t make it irrelevant, in the least. It is more expensive to buy out a player’s arbitration years than it is his free agency years. You need look no further than McCann’s contract.

07:$0.5M, 08:$0.8M, 09:$3.5M, 10:$5.5M, 11:$6.5M, 12:$8.5M, 13:$12M club option ($0.5M buyout)

You can clearly see that even though this was a long term contract signed, the years we would have had him under club control completely (before the long term deal was signed) he’s making less than a mill. The years he would have been an arbitration player he gets a big initial jump and slow steady raises. Then his first year of potential free agency he gets a big jump to 13 mill.

Whether or not Heyward is an arb player or a FA player in 2016 makes a HUGE difference, regardless of whether we sign him to a long term contract or not. If he lives up to even half the hype, it will likely be a $5 mill difference. Even if we sign him to a long term contract.

chuck

March 9th, 2010
2:35 pm

Interesting point, and I’ve discussed here….

10K extra asses a night = 810K extra asses in the seats for the year….does that push us above 3MM?

At an avg ticket cost of lets say 20 bucks, that = $16MM and change…there’s your payroll bump…the MFer pays for himself (sorry Jason, got excited)

18 Wheels of Love

March 9th, 2010
2:40 pm

Great blog. And what a great song. Perfect for the kind of sh*t day I am having. But looking forward to the game at 7, that’s for sure.

FJR

March 9th, 2010
2:40 pm

You can see the same thing with Longoria. His FA years are club options, but very expensive club options: 08:$0.5M, 09:$0.55M, 10:$0.95M, 11:$2M, 12:$4.5M, 13:$6M, 14:$7.5M club option ($3M buyout), 15:$11M club option, 16:$11.5M club option

Again, the argument that a long term contract makes whether he starts on opening day irrelevant is nonsense.

Bobby's Belly

March 9th, 2010
2:40 pm

new nickname: Jesus Christ

flange1

March 9th, 2010
2:40 pm

Thanks for the new blog DOB.

Interesting perspective on Heyward. We will soon see if you are right!

FJR

March 9th, 2010
2:41 pm

Chuck, nobody is talking about putting Heyward in the minors all season. Just for the first 9 games, 6 of which are on the road. To get him over that 170 service days hump.

DAP

March 9th, 2010
2:42 pm

jim sounds like the second coming of Jeff Francoeur

hm…let me think…nope. no it doesnt.

Puma

March 9th, 2010
2:42 pm

I still worry. Andruws numbers were phenomenal in the minors, not to say he was a failure in the big leagues. Although I do recall some issues with Andruw, similar to Escobar, which I do not foresee with Heyward.

Can we just start the real games already???

FJR

March 9th, 2010
2:44 pm

what about 5 walks in 18 PA’s sounds like the second coming of Francouer?

Bobby's Belly

March 9th, 2010
2:44 pm

Let’s not forget the guy has not been the healthiest. Let’s keep hotdogs under $10 a few more yrs.

Mark

March 9th, 2010
2:44 pm

Bob’s belly- inappropriate.

Snotboogie

March 9th, 2010
2:44 pm

Are there any other players in camp for the Braves? DHD

Yes, ones who can give glowing interviews about Heyward.

By the way what is DHD Is it like RHR (Run Heap Run)- D—- Heyward D—- ?

itcouldbeworse

March 9th, 2010
2:45 pm

I agree with FJR…if heyward could be held onto for one more year at the cost of 9 or 10 games that seems like a easy and smart business decision. Just look at the numbers junior put up his first full year in the majors. If heyward put up those type of numbers would Diaz or Cabrrera be that much of a drop off for 10 games?

sidslidkid

March 9th, 2010
2:46 pm

“sounds like the second coming of Jeff Francoeur and we all know how that one turned out…” – Jim

I get jokes… funny stuff man…. wait, you are joking, right?

chuck

March 9th, 2010
2:46 pm

And I am saying FJR…you are trading an immense amount of goodwill for one year of savings that would probably be mitigated anyway by just paying him what he’s worth when he starts being worth it.

If you don’t think he’s gonna be worth double digit millions in 3 years at 23, then i disagree…that is when we’d offer the extension.

He knows he belongs in the lineup NOW…everybody does…and sending him down means we are only doing it to be cheap. This WILL come back to bite us when it’s time to make nice and get a deal done.

Please spare me the Hanson comparison, Tommy needed the innings anyway…

rammerjammer

March 9th, 2010
2:47 pm

The way that dude in Iran talks, there won’t even be a planet in 2016.

I say we win now.

Bobby's Belly

March 9th, 2010
2:48 pm

bkk

March 9th, 2010
2:49 pm

Nelson S – I chose tickets for Houston on Sunday. Reason being that Houston is much closer to Braves camp. The main regulars that play would likely be given the Houston game. The radio broadcast is also from the Houston game. Hope that helps.

chuck

March 9th, 2010
2:50 pm

If I was Heyward I would be in severe eff you mode when it came time to get a deal done pre-Super 2. I’d go get Boras in fact…

You are essentially telling him that you aren’t family, you are a product that we pay for, and we are going to optimize you as we see fit…

It should be about the baseball in this UNIQUE circumstance, not the $$…he’s gonna get paid whether you like it or not…why take an Opening Day occasion away from him? He deserves it, it’s special for a guy that young and talented, and he will always remember it. Tremendous goodwill there, and it should not be discounted.

PiersonBrave

March 9th, 2010
2:52 pm

Jeff Francoeure, J-Hay is not. Hayward is more of a baseball player!

chuck

March 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

From what I hear Frenchy is sweet on David Wright in a Talented Mr Ripley kinda way….

FJR

March 9th, 2010
2:55 pm

Chuck, it’s the same exact situation the Rays had with Longoria. Everybody knew Longoria should be in the lineup from day 1. Everybody knew they were going to work out a long term contract. Sending Heyward to the minors for the first 9 games will only affect Heyward’s decision if he’s a spiteful idiot, and I have a little higher opinion of him than that.

It’s not about being cheap. It’s about the fact that the Braves do not have infinity billion dollars. In 2016 I’m assuming that they will be operating on a budget. $5mill extra dollars might buy a useful player in 2016. Think of how this free agent period might have been different if we had 5 mill extra. Vazquez would likely still be a brave. Or we would have a basher at 1B without health issues. Or any other number of things.

It’s not like the team would just pocket that extra $5 mill. They’d spend it on other players that could help Jason, Tommy, Freddie, JJJ, Julio, B-Mac, etc win a championship that year.

The other thing you HAVE to know is that baseball players never get paid “what they’re worth.” They get paid less than they’re worth up front and way more than they’re worth on the back end. It’s a business, the rules are written the way they are.

You think Chipper is worth more than Evan Longoria? 15 times more? That’s how much more he’s making this year.

Finally, I’m not even saying don’t start him from day one. I’m saying you better realize that you are paying $5 mill or so in 2016 for him to start from day 1. If that’s a price you’re willing to pay, fine. Just don’t pretend like its irrelevant because we are going to sign him to a long term deal.

FJR

March 9th, 2010
2:57 pm

Chuck, so your opinion of Jason is that he’s a spiteful idiot who doesn’t understand the business of baseball? That Evan Longoria had enough sense to understand what was going on last year and Jason doesn’t? That he’s going to throw a silly temper tantrum if he misses the first 9 games? 6 of which are on the road?

Brian from SC

March 9th, 2010
2:58 pm

Heyward definitely doesn’t compare to Francoeur…very, very different players on different paths. Heyward is already a more polished hitter than Andruw ever was or will be (albeit he probably isn’t at Andruw’s power peak yet), but Andruw was a couple of good years away from a HOF career because of his defense. So that’s not bad company, but still not a good comparison.

Heyward’s best Braves comparable is probably Chipper Jones. Obviously, that kind of career path would be wonderful for him.

And I agree that, although I’m not sure it’s the most sound decision, the Braves probably have no other choice than to have him on the Opening Day roster. But that’s perfectly fine with me. Let’s enjoy it, folks. This roster is really shaping up nicely. The Braves are now probably the consensus 2nd best team in the East, and with a stroke of good health and good luck, should be the wild card favorites.

Ima Doosh

March 9th, 2010
2:59 pm

Mark- named after a writer of fiction

The Official Skip Caray T-Shirt

March 9th, 2010
3:00 pm

Just so everyone knows…that fantastic looking J-HEY KID T-Shirt featured above is available from my friends at http://www.sportscrack.com

And as always, the Official Skip Caray T-Shirt is also available online at http://www.skipshirt.com

Load up for the season!

Chris

March 9th, 2010
3:01 pm

Got this link from ESPN…http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=300308106 It has the Homer if someone has not seen it. He is a man child.

Heath

March 9th, 2010
3:02 pm

DAP -

Thanks for the info from the last blog… Sounds to me like it would be a no-brainer decision if it is only a hand full of games.

civilized white trash

March 9th, 2010
3:03 pm

has anyone see frenchy’s batting average this spring….. ya not so good

David O'Brien

March 9th, 2010
3:03 pm

Braves line ‘em up:

1. McLouth CF
2. Prado 2B
3. Jones 3B
4. Glaus 1B
5. McCann C
6. Escobar SS
7. Heyward RF
8. Cabrera LF
9. Kawakami RHP

FEAR

March 9th, 2010
3:04 pm

…………………….still haven’t got by Raphael Belliard shirt

Heath

March 9th, 2010
3:04 pm

VJ -

I’ll still root for the Tribe in the NIT…and here’s an early start on them breaking the drought next year! :)

As for supporting my team…no biggie. Hard for Duke fan to do that. I can support your Tribe, but not your Blue Devils…so, I understand your dilemma. ;)

GD from NZ

March 9th, 2010
3:04 pm

Well Jason Heyward may have all the skills to be a superstar, but what he is lacking is a decent nickname.

J-Hey – c’mon surely he can’t have a nickname like that…

daren in Utah

March 9th, 2010
3:05 pm

I’m a Jason Heyward believer, and wish nothing but the best for him.

But it will be interesting to see how he pans out this year. The season is a long campaign. Each night is facing a starter 2-3 times in the first five innings (making adjustments, all the while he’s making adjustments on you), followed by a setup man or two, each of whom has different stuff and locations, potentially followed by a closer who wouldn’t be in the position of being a closer if he didn’t get guys out. Then going out the next day, and doing it again regardless of what happened the night before. Repeat for six months. I have confidence he will do well.

Brian from SC

March 9th, 2010
3:05 pm

Interesting…if the season started today, that would probably be my opening day lineup.

And Roodge Owns

March 9th, 2010
3:06 pm

Walk up song for J-Hey?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSZKefwIWQs&feature=related

Or would that be too…

In any case, it HAS to be used for a Heyward tribute vid.

David O'Brien

March 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

Saw Jurrjens hitting in the batting cage on my walk in from lot. He’s supposed to throw BP any time now.

RC

March 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

Bowman just put up the starting lineup…aside from pitcher, looks like a pretty good shot at the opening day lineup:

McLouth – CF
Prado – 2b
Chipper – 3b
Glaus – 1b
McCann – C
Escobar – SS
Heyward – RF
Cabrera – LF
Kawakami – P

VP

March 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

Does anybody have a video of the HR against the Tigers?

Renegator

March 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

This is probably the line up Bobby will be using most of the year. Swap Diaz for Cabrera against leftys.

18 Wheels of Love

March 9th, 2010
3:08 pm

Grant Paulson from XM’s Majors and Minors has been calling Heyward ‘The Blueprint’. Personally I think that stinks…and I am not a fan of ‘Jhey’. His nickname will evolve….you can’t force these things, gawd knows I’ve tried. I still like ‘Hybrid’ as his nickname.

RC

March 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

Sorry DOB, didn’t refresh to see that you had already posted lineup….thanks!

Wren Hater

March 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

One thing is for sure:

If Frank “Wrong Again” Wren make the decision, it will probably be a mistake.

Heath

March 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

DOB -

Wouldn’t surprise me if we saw that lineup a lot this season.

Mikeyc588

March 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

Yeah, that looks like an opening day line-up to me. Maybe Diaz in place of Cabrera, depending on the pitcher.

jt

March 9th, 2010
3:09 pm

New nickname- “Big Baby Jesus.”

Brian from SC

March 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

.280/.350/.450 with 15-20 HR and 70 RBI would be a great start for his career, and from what I’ve seen, within reach for him. I hope fans aren’t expecting him to hit .300 with 30 HR and 100 RBI right from the start.

Wren Hater

March 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

MAKES the decision

FJR

March 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

Since I’ve spent so much time giving the reasons why J-Hey possibly should start in AAA, I’ll also give what I think are the reasons for starting now and the reasons why I actually think he will start immediately.

1) Bobby Cox: he’s not going to be here in 2016, he won’t have a roster that is minus $5mill from what it likely would have. He wants J-Hey now, and its obvious. He’s leveraging all the power he has to have him on day one.

2) Schuerholz: I doubt he’s here in 2016, he wants to show off a player he oversaw the drafting and development of as much as possible.

3) Wren: Also, the shelf lives of GMs is such that its 50/50 at best he’ll be here in 2016 and he’s under tremendous pressure to win RIGHT NOW. 9-12 games of J-Hey in a year it really, really matters might be more important to him than 6 years down the road.

4) ROY: an extra 9-12 games could make a difference. it’s hard to quantify how much a ROY is worth, but its not something to ignore either.

Ultimately, I think point 1 alone is enough to get J-Hey there on opening day. In his last year bobby has more than enough sway to make it happen, even if Wren is taking a long view and is against it, especially if Schuerholz is also backing the decision (and he’s been known to make a short sided move when he’s about to leave *cough* tex trade *cough*). I don’t think its a smart baseball management decision, but hey, neither is doing that last shot of tequila either. But I enjoyed it at the time and I’ll enjoy this at the time.

chuck

March 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

FJR, never ignored the price…and am TOTALLY willing to pay it…

Like I said in a prior post, the guy is gonna put the extra asses in the seats to cover his own draw…

This is a UNIQUE circumstance. I am fine with the system slotting the way it normally does. For a guy like this who is in the 99th percentile, i am willing to adapt to a different way of thinking.

And yes, if i hit .400 didn’t strike out, ran the bases like a gazelle, and demonstrated all 5 tools the way this guy is….yeah I’d be spiteful if i had to make my debut 15 days in instead of on opening day just because The Grim Reaper, Terry McGuirk has his designs on selling the team with another year of control of me…when if handled right, I’d be happy to be there for perpetuity….

FEAR

March 9th, 2010
3:10 pm

Good lineup except Mclouth at the lead spot.

abwright

March 9th, 2010
3:11 pm

If Jason Heyward is the best option in RF for the Braves come opening day by a significant margin, I want to see him on the team.

If the Braves sit him in AAA, just to delay his free agency, it would be a crime shame.

It would say, “J-Hey, we’re not giving the best man the job. We’re giving the second best man the job for 9 days, so that we can ‘own’ you for one more year at a cut rate salary.”

This is a flaw in the CBA that is almost as unAmerican as the “reserve clause.”

I hope the Braves organization gives the best man the job and lets the future take care of itself. Heyward has done the work. Hopefully, he gets the reward.

northbeach Scott

March 9th, 2010
3:11 pm

What I want to know is how to translate our Class A catcher Jesus Sucre’s name. Is he “Sweet Jesus” or “Sugar Jesus?” and more importantly can he hit the curveball? &-)

chuck

March 9th, 2010
3:12 pm

Furthermore, FJR, please don’t compare Longoria’s situation.

He is with a franchise that this rule is built for….Tampa has no hope of retaining but 1 or 2 guys out of every 10 that show promise…even that is a stretch…

Read Will Leitch’s piece on Deadspin about Tampa and how they deal with those expectations and still have achieved some success…

Heyward is just gonna jump right into Chip’s money in a couple years, with a couple extra mil coming from someplace else.

northbeach Scott

March 9th, 2010
3:13 pm

Francoeur is dumb or has a learning disability, poor running speed, and no recognition of the strike zone, nor plate discipline. The opposite of Heyward.

flange1

March 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

I have a feeling we might be seeing this lineup very often when RH pitchers are throwing…..

DAP

March 9th, 2010
3:14 pm

that would be my opening day lineup as well. this will be fun to watch.

FEAR

March 9th, 2010
3:15 pm

northbeach Scott – like night and day

rammerjammer

March 9th, 2010
3:15 pm

abwright, well said.

Ignatius J. Reilly

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

that’ll be your starting lineup for the season (save when diaz takes over against lefties)

like how bobby is putting together a linup that he’ll prolly use in the regseason against the phills and their best pitcher

Glen W

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

Answering a question from the previous blog:

tiger297 – Glen W: in your numbers what % of RH vs. LH batted over .300?

In the NL last year, 103 batters had 400+ plate appearances. 31 of those batters were left handed. .. so about a third.
- 3 of the top 10 in batting average were left-handed (on par)
- 6 of the top 20 were left-handed (on par)
- 10 of the top 30 (still on par)

But a deeper analysis shows an interesting trend. If we look at the NL players who hit .290 or better, out of 25 players, 18 bat both or right… 7 bat left. (Still on par for our number.)
But if you compare slugging pct stats across that group, you will find that only 1 player that bats right or switch that hit .290 or better had a slugging pct below .425 (Luis Castillo). 1 out of 18.
3 of the 7 left-handed batters in this group had a slugging percentage below .425.

If we are projecting Heyward to hit .290-ish, are we expecting a lower HR output? It is hard for a left-handed batter to play regularly versus lefties and hit for a high average and drive the ball on a consistent basis.

Let’s look at some examples (from some comparisons thrown out here):

As a rookie at age 19 Ken Griffey, Jr. hit .264 and slugged .420. he went 282/448 vs right-handers, 212/339 versus left-handers. The following season he went 300/481 overall, improving to 306/447 against left-handers.

As a rookie at age 22, Dave Parker went 288/453 overall (54 games)… he only had 10 plate appearances against left-handers. The next year in 73 games, he went 282/409, playing a little more regularly against left-handers (244/293). In his third year (first full season of playing every day) he went 308/541 including 265/452 against LHPs.

At age 23, Kirk Gibson played 51 games as a rookie and went 263/440 including 153/254 versus LHPs. The next year he went 328/479 including 366/512 versus LHPs.

At age 23, Fred McGriff played in 107 games and went 247/505 including 241/346 versus LHPs. The following season he jumped to 282/552 overall 234/368 versus LHPs (not much better). Two years later he finally hit .300 when he improved to 257/411 versus LHPs.

At age 23, Larry Walker went 241/434 overall including 207/414 vs LHPs. The next year he jumped to 290/458 overall when he improved to 2892/417 vs LHPs.

Ate age 20, Ted Williams played a full season going 327/609 (ridiculous). I don’t have the splits.

FACT: the toughest adjustment for any player going to the major leagues is for a left-handed power hitter to play regularly against lefties. It is not easy. You don’t face that kind of specialization in the minor leagues… you just don’t. So if we are projecting a .290 batting average then maybe we are not expecting him to have a slugging percentage of .400+? or maybe we are comparing him to Ted Williams… who was a lifetime .344 hitter. I don’t think we are comparing him to Ted Williams.

And if you don’t like my sample size… name any 5 right-handed batters and any 5 left-handed batters that you think is comparable and I’ll do the research and show you more evidence of this.

The kid is good, but he is 20 years old with little experience above A ball. If we think he can go 290/450 over the season, then he is either a Ted Williams kind of player or he will not be playing regularly versus LHPs. Maybe .260/415 is more realistic.

chuck

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

Everyone on here is not opening their minds to the possibilities this guy brings…

The payroll sux right now because you natives can’t get your asses out of traffic and into the ballpark enough to suit me or the numbers crunchers in the front office…

An extra 500K asses in the seats because of this guy is conservative estimate…

“They will come, Ray, oh people will come…”

DAP

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

Francoeur is dumb or has a learning disability

now was that necessary?

FJR

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

Chuck, my point is, I think you do Jason a great disservice when Evan handled the situation with such class and you’re projecting Jason will throw a temper tantrum about a business decision. It’s 9 games, maybe 12 if the Braves don’t want to risk pushing the rules to their limits.

And Jason isn’t going to make a $2mill difference in attendance, let alone $5mill, in the 3 home games he would miss. Especially when one is opening day.

thinbreakness

March 9th, 2010
3:16 pm

Wren Hater- Well, you’re just a dumba$$.

FJR- Since the Braves were in Milwaukee, they’ve only had 7 General Managers. Wren stays as long as he wants to stay. He is a very good Baseball man. Look what he’s done in 2 years as GM.

goldenglove002

March 9th, 2010
3:17 pm

Bobby Cox introducing the Braves to Halladay early. Nice to see that lineup. Is it on CSS locally or just MLB network?

Nilo Silvan

March 9th, 2010
3:17 pm

GTI in Chicago

March 9th, 2010
3:19 pm

ESPN’s got the Heyward Homer Vid. Found it with an easy search on their site. Here’s the link for those of you who need more immediate gratification:

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=4977685

FJR

March 9th, 2010
3:19 pm

THinbreakness, I think he’ll be here for a while, that’s why it was point 4, but we’re in the minority on here. Most think he’s an idiot.

Fish Bisch

March 9th, 2010
3:20 pm

Go Haywood Go!

Tom Chaump

March 9th, 2010
3:20 pm

I support Bradley’s idea to keep Heyward down for the first two weeks like how the Rays did with Longoria so that the Braves can have him an extra year. Because WE ALL KNOW that if the kid is really this good – Frank Wren will trade him to the Yankees for some mid-level middle relievers when his contract is up.

submariner

March 9th, 2010
3:20 pm

This cat’s going to be in Gwinnett come opening day. Tell him to talk to Tommy Hanson. It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby!

joerochester

March 9th, 2010
3:20 pm

I’m guessing the Braves would be batting Heyward in the 7/8 slot in his rookie year? Does anyone know what slot Griffey and Vlad batted in their rookie years?

Heath

March 9th, 2010
3:21 pm

While McLouth is not ideal for the lead-off position…I guess we could have a worse lineup than that one. Like maybe last year’s? ;)

Macon Braves (RIP)

March 9th, 2010
3:22 pm

That would be my pick for the regular season lineup too.

ncscoots

March 9th, 2010
3:23 pm

I think some on the last blog might have gotten the wrong idea when I mentioned Chipper’s first full season performance in the context of Heyward. I wasn’t denigrating Chipper’s season, far from it. I was pointing out that, no matter your skill set, no matter how advanced, the step up to the bigs is HARD, man. HARD. Heyward may indeed be another Pujolsian exception that proves the merely-human rule, but that’s just a little much to plan on, ain’t it? And we seem ready to see him win ROY, MVP, and get a lifetime mega-deal before pitchers go three innings. :-)

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