A year later, Heyward’s future seems less certain

Last winter and at spring training, Braves general manager Frank Wren was asked if he’d try to sign Jason Heyward to a long-term contract, as Tampa Bay did with Evan Longoria early in his rookie season and Milwaukee did with Ryan Braun after his rookie year.

Last week, Wren was asked about a rumor that the Braves might consider trading Heyward after a disappointing, injury-plagued second season.

“We’ve never had one discussion about trading Jason Heyward,” he scoffed. “That’s the furthest thing from our mind. That’s never come up. Nobody’s contemplated it.”

The mere fact that there was even mention of the possibility – rumored or otherwise – says something of how bad a season Heyward had, and how perception of the 22-year-old  has already changed in some quarters.

Few people in baseball will be shocked if Heyward bounces back from an alarming second season – .227 average, .319 on-base percentage, 34 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs – with a performance in 2012 that more closely resembles his ‘10 season  — .277/.393/52/72 — when he was The Sporting News’ major league rookie of the year.

But at the same time, there are plenty who question whether Heyward has all that it takes, including physical and mental toughness, to become a consistent, elite player year after year in the 162-game grind of major league baseball.

Moments after quashing the trade rumor, Wren said this about Heyward in 2012: “The reality is Jason made some progress this season; he’s got to continue to make progress. And he’s going to be in a battle unless he continues to progress at a good rate.”

Almost as if to underscore what he’d just said to a few reporters still processing that information, Wren continued: “He’s going to be in a battle for a position. It’s not a given he’s our right fielder. We’re going to go into the offseason planning with it in mind that we’ve got to have offensive production from right field. And we didn’t get that.”

Heyward was slowed by thumb-ligament injury that diminished his power for part of his rookie season (he still hit for high average and OBP in that period), and then slowed by a shoulder injury early in the 2011 season that eventually landed him on the disabled list.

It was during Heyward’s DL stint in June when veteran third baseman Chipper Jones commented publicly that Heyward might need to learn to play while hurt, because he could still contribute plenty and teammates regularly played through various aches.

Heyward was back in the lineup less than a week after Jones’ comments. He hit .234 with seven homers, 28 RBIs and a .321 OBP in 83 games after returning from the DL on June 15, including a two-week period in August when he played sparingly. Hot-hitting Jose Constanza was in the regular lineup then, while Heyward did extra work in the batting cage.

After returning to the regular lineup Aug. 19, Heyward hit .253 with two homers in his last 33 games, though he did show better plate discipline and had a .340 OBP in that period – far below his rookie standard, but better than what he’d posted for most of 2011.

Last week, a day after the Braves’ season ended, manager Fredi Gonzalez was asked if Heyward’s season could just be written off as a “sophomore slump.”

“No, I don’t think you write it off,” Gonzalez said. “There’s stuff that we tried during the year to try to fix him and get him better. But he’s too good of a baseball player, too good of a hitter to just write it off as sophomore jinx or whatever.

“He’s only 22. It’s not like he’s over-the-hill and he’s never going to get it fixed. This guy is still young. He’s just a puppy…. I think this is going to be a big offseason for him, to hopefully sell out [accept everything the Braves are suggesting] and make the changes we want him to make and that he wants to make, and come back better.”

Was Wren serving notice that Heyward really would be competing for a job in spring training — Wren said offseason priorities are shortstop and outfield — or just lighting a fire beneath him to make sure Heyward does all he needs to do this winter?

“Some people are like, Jason needs to forget about this season,” said Heyward’ agent, Victor Menocal. “I had a great talk with Jason and he doesn’t want to forget about it, he wants to learn. It was good for him as far as his growth and what he wants to do to have a successful career. Getting to know his body better, what he needs to work on.”

Heyward said late in the same that he wasn’t back to feeling comfortable hitting, not the way he felt as a rookie, but that he was headed in the right direction. He said he’d take the season as a learning experience.

“I mean, that’s what it is,” he said. “Every day, whether you have a good game or an off game, or good season or not-so-good season.”

When Wren was asked if the Braves might suggest that Heyward play winter ball, the GM said he’d reserve comment for now.

In the final week of the season, Heyward was asked about his offseason plans.

“First, heal,” he said. “Figure out if there’s anything else I can do to get healthy. Then just go to work. I feel like I’ll most definitely put more time in in the cage. Not that I ever slacked off at any point, it’s just that when you have injuries and get away from your confidence level, you’ve got to work twice as hard to get it back. So most definitely do that.

“Other than that, working out and staying in shape has never been a problem. I’ve always had a good work ethic. But as far as the cage goes, just get after it, take my time and pay a lot of attention to detail.”

Heal? Did that mean something still felt wrong with the shoulder?

“I don’t know if it’s back-related, neck-related or whatever,” Heyward said. “I just feel like, get to the bottom of whatever it is. I mean, because I don’t feel like it’s better, as far as 100 percent. It still nags me. I just want to get to the root of the problem. Just take the time, because it’s my career and I owe it to myself to most definitely get that checked. I just want to know, is there anything I can do to feel better?”

“Like I said, naturally heal up and then put some work in. I enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed practice; I’ve always enjoyed working on something, whether things are going well or not for me. So that’s going to be nothing new. It’s going to be a fun challenge.”

Menocal said Heyward would be examined early this winter, but didn’t elaborate. He said Heyward would do exercises to strengthen the shoulder that gave him trouble.

When Wren was asked last week if the Braves would have Heyward examined this winter, he said, “There are no health issues.”

Wren’s comments regarding Heyward’s status for 2012 were heretofore unheard of in Braves circles, at least publicly. Ever since he made former manager Bobby Cox’s opening-day lineup as a 20-year-old in 2010 – and hit a tape-measure homer in his first at-bat – the consensus was that the “J-Hey Kid” would become a franchise institution, a superstar to inherit the Golden Boy label from Chipper Jones.

Even last spring and early in the season, new manager Gonzalez made it clear Heyward was a full-time starter who’d face right-handed and left-handed pitchers, not any sort of platoon player. That was, of course, before Heyward struggled mightily against lefties this season and eventually had a seat on the bench when facing some lefties, and then when facing some righties, too.

He hitt .192 with a .270 OBP against lefties this season, compared to .249 with a .356 OBP in 2010. Heyward also hit .218 with runners in scoring position this season, after ranking second among Braves regulars with a .306 average in 2010.

“He’s a young guy with a lot of potential,” Wren said last week. “And at the major league level, managers and general managers will tell you, potential is great, but we need production. That’s kind of where we are. We have to see production.”

221 comments Add your comment

DHD

October 4th, 2011
6:30 pm

Winter ball could help. We really need him to step up in 2012. I believe he will. Now is not the time to trade him. His value is low.

Frediot

October 4th, 2011
6:33 pm

Heywurd is just not good enough. Should of plays Constanza mores. All about teh speedz!!

tomo hawk

October 4th, 2011
6:38 pm

Good to see Wren speak candidly. No just sweep it under the rug and forget about it. Heyward needs to feel a little pressure.

Brandon

October 4th, 2011
6:45 pm

I’ve said all along, dude was not healthy and rushed back because Chipper basically gave him no choice. Would you speak up and say something was still bothering you after you got killed in the media because of what the franchise icon said? He toughed it out, and now isn’t even gonna make the excuse. Gotta respect him…I hope he comes back blazing and healthy!

LAG

October 4th, 2011
6:50 pm

DHD – Agree, some form of winter ball would help tremendously.

Brownie

October 4th, 2011
6:56 pm

Fans and media are always too quick to judge or label an athlete, either as the “next whomever” or as a bust. With today’s technology and 24/7 focus on everything, we just don’t have enough patience to see how things play out.

Heyward is only 22 yrs old, and has played in under 300 MLB games – had some success and some failure. With rare exception, every player has struggled at one time or another in his career, and usually early on (or very late). He’s got too much talent and promise to give up on him now.

But I do think the candid talk from Fredi and Wren is very helpful, because IF Heyward is the type to feel intitlement because of his early success he now knows it will take maximum effort to reach his potential.

It’s pretty simple: he’s got too much talent to end up being just average. He’ll probably either be a star or a Francouer. We’ll likely know by the end of the 2012 season.

smyrnabob

October 4th, 2011
6:56 pm

Shafer taught me that a lid is a felony in Florida.

Thinking about that Teixera trade again while watching the Rangers win today.
Elvis is the SS the Braves could use. Harrison with his 15th win, Felix with his 35 save, and Saltalamacchia solid in Boston. No playoffs that year either, I believe.

Bobby Bobby

October 4th, 2011
7:00 pm

No one said first. JeyHey will be fine. He just needs attention and a decent hitting coach

Rowsdower

October 4th, 2011
7:00 pm

He doesn’t need to be playing winter ball if he isn’t 100%. Take the time to figure out what is physically hindering his swing and get ready for spring training. He needs to be completely healthy and ready to go when the bell rings.

Brownie

October 4th, 2011
7:05 pm

Smyrnabob – I’ve pointed to that trade many times as a watershed (bad) moment for the Braves. For all the great moves Schuerholz made in the 90’s (with a big budget), that one was horrible. Tex played well for us, but didn’t make enough impact to get us into the playoffs. That team was on the down-slide, and it was JS’s final attempt to get another WS chance for Bobby – understand the intent, but poor execution on the trade.

Wren catches a lot of flack, but I feel he’s doing a great job on a very limited budget. Time for Liberty Media to realize their tax break and sell the team to someone who cares. Braves have a very good foundation – commitment from new owners will give Wren the ability to get to the big dance.

Kimbrel rocks

October 4th, 2011
7:10 pm

buckhead benny

October 4th, 2011
7:18 pm

Dude is a sell out- Well quit going out to the clubs in Buckhead and Atlanta then dude- It is a known fact I have seen him out partying till the wee hours- Ask anyone at Tongue and Groove if they ever see Heyward they late at night? Answer is yes- I just lost all respect what little I had for him-

Dude aint no more hurt- He doesn’t even get close to the ball swinging- You know how many doctors and physical therapists the Braves have on their team- It would be documented per league policy.

In my opinion might want to drug check the dude- He may or may not be hanging with his boy Shaefer-

You don’t just drop off productivity and hitting the club scene…. like that- then blaming shoulder problems- dude couldn’t even take a walk man.. that has nothing to do with your shoulder- thats your freaking eyes dude.

Dennis Reynolds

October 4th, 2011
7:22 pm

BUUSSSTTTTT. We passed on Mike Stanton for Heyward. Ok? Mike Stanton.

Hesalive

October 4th, 2011
7:25 pm

Apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).

Reality Check

October 4th, 2011
7:41 pm

Mike Stanton is nothing but the new Rob Deer or Adam Dunn. Anyone who think Constanza has a better long term future than Heyward needs their head examined.

What If...

October 4th, 2011
7:41 pm

I hate agents and the players union. let teams offer production based contracts with escape clauses for players who just quit performing. it’s too bad the Braves can’t just release players like KK or Lowe or McClouth after their numbers hit certain lows without having to finish paying their salaries. if I quit performing at work, I wouldn’t get paid millions to just show up and fill a spot. …. I’d be collecting my unemployment.

Michael, The Abbreviation

October 4th, 2011
7:47 pm

Reality Check – um dude, ill give u a reality check Stanton 2011 – .260 , 34HR, 87 RBI
Heyward 2011 – .227, 14HR, 32 RBI

l jones

October 4th, 2011
8:00 pm

Isn’t there an obvious problem when the GM is saying “There are no health problems” while the player is saying the injury still nags him, and he wants to get to the root of the problem? Isn’t one of them a liar?

smallmouth6

October 4th, 2011
8:00 pm

Reality Check Constanza was better this year, and this year that’s all that mattered.

George Stein

October 4th, 2011
8:02 pm

Frank and Fredi are dumping on Heyward to cover themselves. He didn’t perform well, but he was better than several others in the lineup and they aren’t getting dumped on like he is. That just reeks as two guys who are worried for themselves and trying to deflect blame.

If Heyward is/was hurt, he needs to get well.

George Stein

October 4th, 2011
8:04 pm

No, he was not, smallmouth6.

The market is preventing non-guaranteed contracts, What if. Nothing is keeping anyone from offering Pujols a one year deal this winter. They just won’t get his services because someone else will give him more. It’s not his problem some team is going to give him eight years and the last few might not be worth it.

RHR

October 4th, 2011
8:23 pm

20 years later and we’re still looking for the “next” Chipper. Says more about how special Chipper is than anything else.

RHR

October 4th, 2011
8:24 pm

Reality Check Constanza was better this year for a month, and this year that’s all that mattered.

Fixed it for ya.

since1966 fan

October 4th, 2011
8:28 pm

If J-who was hurt he should have said so. Don’t blame Chipper thats just another excuse. Remember when Schaler the ,druggie, played hurt and had to stay out over half a year. J-who should’ remember that and not played. Constanza should have been playing and with a good mgr he would have . We Might have made the play-off.
Fire Fredi and McDowell. I will not spend another penny on any Braves games are caps, shirts etc till his as@ is gone. 44 years of waiting till next year with only one WS..not very good odds

M10

October 4th, 2011
8:38 pm

If I was Heyward I would’nt mind getting traded away from these losers.If chipper would’ve kept his mouth shut about his injury when he does’t play enough himself.Cox telling him to be more agressive was the mistake.Heyward shoud’nt listen to anyone and go back to what made him sucessful.Get far away from these losers as you can.

billy

October 4th, 2011
8:45 pm

How many times are the Braves going to bring someone up and claim he is going to be the next Aaron..Hitting cars in spring training and all that BS and he falls on his face. Frenchy, Schafer, Brad K, Heyward and many more. That crap gets old. Save the Ice Cream till he proves himself. Heyward should have been in AAA this year after injury.

Tough Decisions

October 4th, 2011
8:45 pm


What If…

October 4th, 2011
7:41 pm

I hate agents and the players union. let teams offer production based contracts with escape clauses for players who just quit performing. it’s too bad the Braves can’t just release players like KK or Lowe or McClouth after their numbers hit certain lows without having to finish paying their salaries. if I quit performing at work, I wouldn’t get paid millions to just show up and fill a spot. …. I’d be collecting my unemployment.”

“Disgraced HP CEO To Get About 28 Million in Cash and Stock”

HP said Friday that it ousted Hurd after its investigation of a sexual harassment complaint found he had falsified expense reports and other documents to conceal a relationship with a contractor. Hurd also allegedly helped the woman get paid for work she didn’t do.

Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/business-finance-investing/1052375-golden-parachutes-hp-ceo-given-28-a.html#ixzz1ZrbQo3Fc

So if it’s the CEO that gets a golden parachute for screwing up it’s ok but not a ballplayer?

tdc

October 4th, 2011
8:49 pm

Jason Heyward THE GREAT BLACK HOPE!

billy

October 4th, 2011
8:50 pm

“If chipper would have kept his mouth shut”…lol…. Chipper didn’t made him do a damn thing, Chipper don’t make out the line-up. Fredi does that. I wish J-Hey would get away and Fredi too.

billy

October 4th, 2011
8:56 pm

@8:45 Both CEO and Players should go to jail..A city clerk steals $570,000 and get 5 month probation in my little town.

billy

October 4th, 2011
8:56 pm

Octavius

October 4th, 2011
8:58 pm

Hey Wren! I read where you are talking about Jason and how he needs to improve. How about you? Speaking for a lot of us fans are, you ain’t exactly been tearing things up during your tenure. To name a few of your screw ups so far:
K.K., McOut, Lowe, Fredi

Astro Joe

October 4th, 2011
9:06 pm

Obviously, Hayward had a very disappointing season and my comments aren’t to suggest that his performance was acceptable. It feels, however, that Wren is still looking to place blame/fault on the non-playoff berth. If Hayward’s issues were so pronounced that he enters Spring Training in the Ryan Langerhans territory, then why didn’t the Braves send him to AAA during the season? And his .340 OBP during that last stretch is fairly strong. It is comparable to what Freeman and McCann did during the entire season. Again, something was clearly wrong and the notion that the player seems to believe that his body isn’t right while the front office is quick to dismiss that possibility is very, very problematic. I hope the Braves aren’t expecting the 22 year-old to respond to his first bout of athletic adversity with the same maturity of a 28 year-old. And I hope that they allow Heyward to rest his body this off-season and start anew in spring training.

Boo

October 4th, 2011
9:15 pm

Personally, I say give him the off season to reach a point where HE feels comfortable with any of his injuries/ailments. I’m with him. It’s his career, and HE knows his body. Give the kid a chance.

concern

October 4th, 2011
9:15 pm

Lots of players share in the meltdown. When Jones said Braves would beat Philles in the division playoffs knew something was amiss. The great one do more than talk.

GT23

October 4th, 2011
9:17 pm

I read the first paragraph and that’s all. Jason has played just about enough major league baseball for teams to get a good scouting report on him. This whole report stinks! Jason is not any different than any other player that made waves as a rookie. Teams study them during the off season and they look for ways to pitch them. Players make adjustments and come back stronger or they take time to learn their way. We gave up on Frenchy too early, because we needed him to produce as a young player. Do we do the same with Jason? If we do, we will be regressed when he hits for average and leads the league in doubles and hits 20 HR’s per year. Jason will be fine if he gets AB’s. I’m most concerned that he didn’t get the AB’s when he needed them most this year. He is a dynamic player that can be great or he can be a bust if we don’t give him the AB’s required to learn his way after the “league” has adjusted to him. Play him and play him everyday and let him hit. He has the talent, but we have to allow for him to learn how to be successful at the MLB level! Rookie year bust outs are not the answer. Jason will be great, if we give him the time needed to be great.

Doc

October 4th, 2011
9:30 pm

He will be traded before the start of the season!! In other words, stick a fork in him, He’s Done!!!

Old Jax Braves Fan

October 4th, 2011
9:31 pm

The jusy may be out on this young lad but let’s remember the debacle with another phenom, Jeff Francouer. He went through the sophomore slump but went into another season where he virtually died at the plate (comparatively speaking) and was traded. He’s doing great in KC (or, rather much better than with the Bravos) and, I suspect, if Jason is traded, watch out. He sure as hell will haunt us if he’s still in the NL.
Of course, had the Braves had a hitting coach, Heyward may have had a much better year. We’ll never know.

JF McNamara

October 4th, 2011
9:31 pm

They rushed him through the minors. He never struggled, and then he was expected to make a major adjustment against major league pitching. They knew he had a hole in his swing. They should have fixed it before they promoted him.

He and Freeman could’ve both been called up this year, but they desperately needed and OF last year. If this is the approach they are taking, I wish they would trade him now. He’ll be a better player somewhere else.

BobT

October 4th, 2011
9:35 pm

Heward and Francouer were both supposed to be the next Chipper. Other than that, they are complete opposites. One swings at everything and one takes everything. One mopes around and one is the life of the party. One is always hurt and the other never missed a game. Maybe the bottom line is that nobody is going to be the next Chipper and just accept our RFs for what they are. At this point, Francouer is the more productive player, but he isn’t and never will be in Chipper’s league. Likely that Heward won’t either.

BobT

October 4th, 2011
9:37 pm

I actually know how to spell Heyward…as opposed to what I wrote earlier (Heward).

GT23

October 4th, 2011
9:38 pm

I would have loved having JF and JH on the corners this year! Fact is, we are not at the level of Philly this year. Should we shop the farm for next season? NO! We should get better with our young talent. Let’s give them the time that we gave Glavine, Smoltz, Avery, Chipper, and others such as Justice, Ron Gant, and others to work on their skills. We can add to what we need in additions like we did with Crime Dog! We can’t expect draft picks to come on the scene be like Chipper or Murphy. These guys are far and few! They are HOF material and they still needed time to adjust. We gave these other guys time, because we didn’t have great expectations. We do have expectations for JH, but it doesn’t make the learning curve any different.

TP

October 4th, 2011
9:41 pm

He needs to get the hell out of the ATL, ASAP.
Somehow, I hear the words of Marvin Freeman……….

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
9:45 pm

Hey Brownie. Got some numbers for you from the 2011 regular season. How would you like to have had a right fielder who played in 153 games, had a .285 avg., .329 obp, .476 slg. 171 hits, scored 77 runs, 87 RBI’s, 20 HR, 47 doubles, 4 triples, and 22 stolen bases? That would be the guy you dumped on in one of your earlier comments. I can only hope that Heyward becomes another Francouer. And as far as Schueholz goes, that Texeira trade was emblematic of the way the old “genius” went about his business. Ever hear of Jermaine Dye? We traded him for MIchael Tucker, got J. D. Drew as a rent a player for Adam Wainwright. The 6 player trade for Tex was just the icing on the cake. Take away the years that Cox was GM and laid the foundation for the braves of the 90’s and Schuerholz would have been managing another KC franchise like the one he left in shambles. And payroll is not the issue here. 2 of the 6 playoff teams had payrolls under 54 million. Heck, Wren spent more on McLouth, Lowe, Chipper, Kawakami, and McCann than the Rays spent on their entire team. But the only guy you’ll ever in the front office admit to making a mistake used to own the team. Ted Turner is the only one I’ve ever heard say that he screwed up when he fired Cox the first time around. You’ll never hear Wren or Schuerholz say they made a mistake. It’s always somebody else’s fault.

Gimme a Break

October 4th, 2011
9:48 pm

All you have to do is watch the division series and see all the former Braves players excelling on other teams. The Braves no longer have any swagger and teams don’t fear them like they used to. Fredi Gonzalez is a nice enough guy, but the Braves had the chance to shake it up and bring in some fire. Frankly, I am not sure what McDowell does. He seems to be working crossword puzzles in the dugout.

The only time the Braves had some spark this year was when Constanza and Bourn were lighting up the bases, creating runs. Well, that didn’t last long. Back to swinging for the fences. Braves need to learn how to play small ball when needed and manufacture runs.

I won’t watch a game next year until they clinch a playoff spot.

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
9:48 pm

Chipper is like the 2nd or 3rd best switch hitter in the history of the game…….that’s over 100 years of baseball. Not many are going to be in his league offensively. Why burden someone with the comparison. Just let players be who they were made to be and we might be surprised what they can do. The Braves tinkered with Francouer and messed with his swing until he wasn’t sure what he was doing anymore. That’s why he went outside the organization for some coaching and that’s why he was traded for basically nothing in return. Where did Ryan Church play this year?

GT23

October 4th, 2011
9:51 pm

MLB = The best baseball players on planet earth! Pitchers…The best! IF… the best! OF… the best. These organizations are the best of the best! Hitters must adjust! Pitchers must adjust! Coaches must adjust! Managers must adjust and make the hardest decisions! This is why they make Millions$!
It’s very easy for us as fans to be next day critics!

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
9:52 pm

I’ve said for some time that when the braves care more about winning than projecting a “professional demeanor” we will finally be onto something. When we see some passion out of this bunch instead of the businesslike attitude then maybe we will win some championships. This was a much better team this year than the one Cox took to the playoffs with last year giving the eventual champs all they could handle. But the team followed the leader last year. Cox was always talking up the players and thought nothing of going out there and fighting for the guys and getting thrown out of the game. I don’t know why Gonzalez even left the dugout this year when an ump screwed up. It looked like he trotted out there, the ump said “go sit down Fredi” and that’s what he would do.

TomTomClub

October 4th, 2011
9:52 pm

Trade Heyward to the Chisox for Carlos Quentin. We need a RH power bat to balance our lineup and they need a left handed power source. Would be a great move for both teams!!

Jack Fate

October 4th, 2011
9:52 pm

Maybe I’m reading into the tone of Wren’s comments, but he sounds like a dude that just walked in on his wife cheating on him, and without getting a chance to take a few days to rest, people are asking him about it.

I think both he and Heyward could visit a head doctor.

Biff Pocoroba

October 4th, 2011
9:54 pm

Who the heck is Marvin Freeman, and what did he say?

Bravos

October 4th, 2011
9:55 pm

Wren tryna lite a fire under his butt…its all a psycological ploy to motivate a lazy,conceited,overhyped,bad defensive right fielder. It should work!

Line Drive

October 4th, 2011
9:57 pm

My 2 Cents…..that’s about what Heyward is worth

Bravos

October 4th, 2011
9:57 pm

Should we sign furcal this year? Fucal,bourn and constanza together..beep!beep!

Bravos

October 4th, 2011
9:57 pm

Marvin freeman…lol

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
9:57 pm

Freeman was a pitcher who had a 10 year big league career pitching for the phillies, braves, and rockies as a starter and reliever. But I don’t remember what he said.

bravo bravos

October 4th, 2011
9:58 pm

Heyward says that something physically is not right regardless of what Wren says. He needs to get checked out thoroughly and do so now. Don’t wait 2 or 3 months. If something is wrong that requires surgery then get it done. If it can heal through rest, therapy or both then do so. He should rest the body as much as needed to heal, then begin work on his swing/approach with some help. Heyward has way too much potential and has already shown what he can do to give up on. The Braves gave up on Frenchy too soon. His approach last year was solid. He was patient and had good pitch selection as indicated by the high OBP. He arrived to the Show with good idea of what he wanted to do at the plate and Pendleton help reinforce the patient approach. This yea,r be it the injuries, the hitting coach or whatever, he did not have the same approach as last year and seemed not to have an idea about what he wanted to do at the plate.
Also, the comment from Hoss calling out Heyward publicly was out of line. If the vet had issues with the kid he should have pulled him aside and talked with him about it. In the past if the Braves had issues it was handled in the clubhouse not in the press. It is especially ironic considering the number of times through the years Chipper has been out of the lineup with injuries both great and small.

extremus

October 4th, 2011
9:58 pm

The Braves have no one but themselves to blame for Jason Heyward wasting an entire dismal season at the big league level; contrary to Chipper Jones’ statement, 80 percent of Jason Heyward is NOT better than the majority of Major League outfielders right now; he should have been in Gwinnett back in May. Unfortunately, once the Braves decided to bring him north with them after Spring Training and literally handed him the keys to the city, there was no going back where the front office was concerned. And they owe Heyward an apology for that.

I don’t say this because I hate Heyward or wish him ill; on the contrary, I still feel he COULD someday be the superstar we all hope he can be. But yet another year under an inept batting coach combined with the pressure of producing at the MLB level robbed him and the fans of Atlanta of at least one more season of promise. Now it’s no longer a matter of “adjusting” or a “overcoming a slow start”; Heyward is facing the very real possibility of seeing his entire career go up in smoke pending what happens in the next one or two seasons.

The worst thing I think that could have happened to Jason Heyward was catching that first pitch from Hank Aaron and hitting that home run last season; it was wonderful in the moment, but in retrospect it’s been a benchmark he just cannot consistently match. And let’s be honest here, a lot of folks expected him to. No young and untested player should ever have the level of hopes pinned on him that Heyward did; it’s a recipe for disaster. I think when all is said and done the Washington Nationals will benefit much more from giving Bryce Harper time in the minors to fully develop than the Braves will by having rushed Heyward based on the great performance of a single Spring Training.

Winter ball is a must for Heyward; he must do everything within his power to prove he still belongs in a Major League uniform; forget for the moment about any aspirations of greatness. Let him have to win a job once again and see if he rises to the occasion. If not, concede that at the very least he needs more time where he CAN become ready.

CoachOnTheGo

October 4th, 2011
9:58 pm

I really don’t think Jason was ever physically healthy after the shoulder injury. He came back…tried to play through the pain…and suffered. He just missed pitches he’d normally hit. When you’re hurt…that’s what happens. Also, looks like he’s got a little “hitch” in his swing which makes it tough to hit the hard stuff on the inner half of the plate. If the Braves need a hitting coach…I am available. Just say’n…

Bravos

October 4th, 2011
10:00 pm

Hey buck whats the tongue n groove like?

BRAVESFAN

October 4th, 2011
10:02 pm

I’ll be wearing my Heyward jersey and cheering him on in 2012.

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
10:09 pm

I’m not sure even the thumb ever healed completely. That kind of injury can be very problematic. I was at Turner Field in Feb. before the season and some braves’ employees were talking about Heyward and his thumb still giving him trouble. If he doesn’t make it here, he’ll make it somewhere. I’ll never forget what Francouer said after leaving here and arriving in New York. The manager told him they didn’t care if he hit for average or not, just drive in runs and that’s what he did. He’s done it everywhere he’s played. The braves apparently are satisfied to have a guy hit .230 and drive in runs if his name is Uggla and they just paid him about $60 million, but it was never enough with Francouer.

Truenobleman

October 4th, 2011
10:10 pm

Perhaps He could be taught to S Hit, like Chipper in winter ball, sometimes swinging from the other side let’s one time their swing better. hope I’am wrong about J-Hay and he is not bust,BUT THE INJURY bug he us’es sounds bogas. Braves fan since 1965. Might give up on this team, early next seson, sad to admitt, but cannot take much more also ran’s.

chemprof

October 4th, 2011
10:12 pm

I hope the Braves don’t give up on Jason too soon. Both Melkie Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur had very solid seasons for Kansas City this past year, both much better full seasons than any Braves’ outfielder in 2011 with BA of .285+, 40+ doubles, 18+ HR, 20+ SB, 75+ runs and 87 RBI. Just think what the Braves’ season would look like if we had some production like that this past season!

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
10:17 pm

Royals just hired the braves’ former bench coach, Cadahia. Don’t know who the hitting coach is, but anyone that could help Melky get untracked is a miracle worker. I think Melky’s problem was the pre and post game buffets while he was here in Atlanta. By the end of 2010, when Melky ran the bases my TV jiggled. I think that is McCann’s problem, too.

Coach B

October 4th, 2011
10:25 pm

Heyward needs to work hard in the weight room. He doesn’t look strong in his chest, arms, and shoulders. He almost looks disproportionate for his height. His build looks more like a basketball player than a baseball player. The hands are there, get stronger, and come back raking next year. I want him to be the force in RF I thought we farmed. Don’t hit 250 balls a day in a cage. Build some muscle and take 100 swings a day.

alan dorfman

October 4th, 2011
10:29 pm

Braves could have sent Heyward to the Astros for Hunter Pence then we could have had Bourn and Pence together in our outfield

Jo Bling

October 4th, 2011
10:30 pm

I thought this statement from Fredi was the most important line of the whole (excellent) column:

“I think this is going to be a big offseason for him, to hopefully sell out [accept everything the Braves are suggesting] and make the changes we want him to make and that he wants to make, and come back better.”

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
10:31 pm

I agree, coach. When I hear one of these major leaguers talk about “getting in the cage” I know they are not talking about serious off season training. I’m sure that’s what Brian Jordan was talking about when he made the comments about Chipper last year. After Chipper’s injury in 2010, he probably had to train harder than he ever had in the off season and I think that is why he had as good a year as he did. This off season, I predict Chipper will get a lot of time in the cage and lots of that strenuous conditioning called getting into and out of a deer stand and, consequently, I believe Chipper’s 2012 will look a lot more like his 2010 season.

Jo Bling

October 4th, 2011
10:33 pm

Hey, Dorfman, what the hell do you know? Are you Frank Wren’s pseudonym? If not, then quit posting stupid comments about things you know nothing about.

athdog

October 4th, 2011
10:34 pm

I’m not saying the Constanza has a brighter future than Heyward, even though he hit .320 in AAA, I don’t think Heyward has hit that well since high school. What I notice is that Heyward, through his struggles this year, lost his hustle. How many times did you see him jog down the first base line after yet another ground ball to short/second? Constanza NEVER jogged, and caused defenses to make throwing errors or fielding errors because they had to rush to try to throw him out. He got on base because of his hustle. I saw it last year with Heyward, not so much this year, however. It’s like the old high school coach said, and it’s true at every level. ‘Hustle makes good things happen’. Hopefully he remembers that next season.

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
10:38 pm

I agree with that comment about hustle, too. I think it was the next to last game against the Phils that a ball was hit to Heyward and he just loafed on it when if he had hustled and thrown to the plate he would have probably thrown out Victorino. But his throws were off base this year, too. Sometimes I think our guys just aren’t that bright. They tend to struggle with concentration.

athdog

October 4th, 2011
10:38 pm

I don’t think it was the fans ‘annointing’ JHey, Frenchy, Komminsk, etc..as the next ‘Aaron’, ‘Mays’, or Chipper. I think, at least with Frenchy and JHey, I know, it was the media. Of course, we jumped on the wagon, but our friends of the inky fingers can’t wait to name someone ‘best since…’ especially in this sports starved town

Steve

October 4th, 2011
10:39 pm

Blame his shoulder all you want, I could stomach the absence of offense if he was anywhere near as good defensively as the hype. He doesn’t cover nearly as much area as he should, and his arm isn’t anywhere near as good as advertised (he made one or two good throws as a rookie, but he was garbage in the field this year).

I am starting to believe that he and JJ are the same. Instead of the injuries causing the slumps, the slumps are causing the injuries. As in, every time they go thru a tough stretch they come up with some sort of injury. They are beginning to remind me of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack.

Columbus

October 4th, 2011
10:41 pm

Francoeur II? Hope its only a sophomore slump. Maybe its adjusting to Bobby not being there.

From my many years of experience playing baseball, when you suck one year, you come out mentally tough and focused the next season and have a helluva year and grow on that the next couple years also. We will see if that is what happens with Heyward or if it is indeed Fracouer II.

No mentions of the striking similarities between him and Frenchy have been made that I have seen.

Poorbrave

October 4th, 2011
10:42 pm

HIRE GREG WALKER and I’ll bet my wife he turns the Braves hitting around. The Man is good and can produce results. Just ask Konerko, Beckham and Lillibridge who credits Walker with resurrecting their offensive game in 2011.. He is ready and waiting for the call.

Wren Make the Call..

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
10:49 pm

Hey Columbus, I invite you to go check out Francouer’s career stats. Even the year the braves traded him, he drove in 76 runs for Atlanta and New York. And the next year in 139 games for New York and Texas he drove in 65. If Francoeur plays he drives in runs, period.

Brave New World

October 4th, 2011
10:52 pm

I hope Heyward turns things around in 2012. He has a ton of talent, but looked lost most of this past year. Larry Parrish obviously was not the person to work with Brave hitters. I don’t understand the hate for Heyward. A true Braves fan would want him to do well so it would help the team.

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
10:53 pm

Does your wife know you’re placing bets with her as the winnings? Reminds me of that Nicholas Cage movie with Sarah Jessica Parker and James Caan.

Maria

October 4th, 2011
10:54 pm

While Mike Stanton’s numbers are better than Heyward’s, take a look at who had a winning record and who didn’t. Stanton’s numbers did nothing to make Florida have a winning season.

I still think Heyward can be something special but it is awfully hard to do anything with a sore shoulder. I have trouble with mine from hurting it when I was a kid. There are days when I can’t stand to move my arm because it hurts so bad. Hopefully, he’ll be sent to a specialist who will take care of the problem. I still see him and Freddie Freeman as being the future of this ball team and Freeman is about to enter his second year. Is everybody gonna say if he has a bad second year to get rid of him too like they are saying about Heyward right now?

tdmorgan

October 4th, 2011
11:00 pm

since1966 fan, if you really think Constanza was the missing link for us making the playoffs then you may want to go back and look at the way he played after the ankle injury.

UKUGA

October 4th, 2011
11:05 pm

I love how Heyward indicates he has a physical problem, while Wren, who is not Heyward, says, “There are no health issues.”

Wookie Ninja

October 4th, 2011
11:15 pm

Damn!It is utterly amazing how many people have no damn clue! Constanza? really? dude had a hot little streak, but is no more a major league ball player than Greg Norton!

Pastornicky???? How many have seen this kid play? I have! this dude is the next Jordan Schafer, without the defense, has brick glove, poor recognition on defense, and range leaves a lot to be desired!
Good grief, you guys stop hugging every damn prospect that Wren and co. decide to feed the masses ignorant fodder about!
This kid is never going to be the starting SS for the Braves! He is TRADE FODDER!

now to Heyward, Too Much Too Soon! that is all that is wrong with this kid, Pushed at 20-21, fell on his ass this year, I say give him time, and everyone will be happy, now if he continues to regress, and becomes Francouer II then deal him before his stock plummets!

The one player I would get gone from here pretty quickly is Martin Prado! Prado is no more than a .278 hitter without power! nothing more , nothing less! He has high trade value, and should be traded, very poor defense, adequate hitter, Call Cashman, Wren and peddle Prado, and Varvaro for Brandon Laird, and Eduardo Nunez! You will be glad you did! Remember Chippah is an old ass man with crippled knees!

Wookie Ninja

October 4th, 2011
11:28 pm

no that I have Cantstandya out of my system, Here are some moves Wren should enquire on.
1. call the cubs, give em 7.5 mil Derek Lowe& a prospect lower level for Marlon Byrd.
2.Prado/Varvaro to Yanks for Nunez/Laird if Cash will do it.
3.Jurrjens to KC for L.Cain/Moustaskas( again Chipper is an old ass man with crippled knees)
4.Call Oakland, time for a blockbuster here Hanson/Cain/Constanza/Hoover for Gio Gonzalez/Willingham./Wuertz
5. sign Ty Wigginton, and bring back Gonzo only as a backup.
6.if Adam Wainwright is available sign him up!
7. The Dodgers (in Bankruptcy and facing an ultimatum) they cannot fork out the buck for Kemp, I wuld offer Heyward, Pastornicky,Bethancourt for Kemp/Guerrier, but only if he will play RF, and sign an Uggla type extension.
this would give you a lineup as follows.

cf.Bourn
ss.Nunez
1B Freeman
rf.Kemp
3b Jones
2b Uggla
c McCann
lf Willngham

starters
Hudson
Gonzalez
Wainwright
Minor
Delgado/Beachy/Teheran
Bench:
Hinske
Ross
Byrd
Gonzalez
Wigginton

Pen
Medlen
Guerrier
Wuertz
Martinez
OFlaherty
Venters
Kimbrel

I know wishful thinking, but no more preosterous than Constanza/Conrad/Diaz/Wilson/and even remotely thinking that Prado will ever be a productive full time 3B

Larry30

October 4th, 2011
11:55 pm

The people who show they know nothing about the players who come through here are the ones who continue to make a reference to someone who gets worse and worse as Francouer II. Here are the facts: 2005: 45 rbi’s and 41 runs in 70 games. 2006: 103 rbi’s and 83 runs in 162 games. 2007: 105 rbi’s and 84 runs in 162 games. 2008: (when the tinkering began) 71 rbi’s and 70 runs scored in 155 games. 2009: 35 rbi’s and 32 runs in 82 games for the braves; 41 rbi’s and 40 runs in 75 games for the Mets for a total of 76 rbi’s and 72 runs in 157 games. All Francoeur has done is drive in runs and show up for work for every team he has played for.

captguitarman

October 5th, 2011
12:14 am

Squirrels running wild in his head. Begin therapy ASAP. A new batting coach is a futile gesture for Heyward and for all of them — but someone’s head had to roll. They all had the skills, the ability, the talent, the drive. August was not a fluke. They kicked butt and came back from behind to win more than a few times. Where in the heck did those guys go? They all just need a dark and quiet room, a comfortable sofa, a gentle, calm, and understanding voice, and a box of tissue. They should talk about their childhoods, their little league struggles, the constant pressure to perform, and then the huge disgrace of the 2011 division race collapse, and then just cry it all out. Then it will all be better.

BIG DOG

October 5th, 2011
12:36 am

You guys don’t tell me that Heyward be hangin out with Schaffer.

BIG DOG IN THE HOUSE

BIG DOG

October 5th, 2011
12:38 am

Heyward get your self together brother and stay out of streets of ATL it’s to much drama.

BIG DOG IN THE HOUSE

BIG DOG

October 5th, 2011
12:45 am

Constanza is the man, a blind man can see that the guy started for the braves and it was the most exciting baseball i have seen, then he get hurt and for some reason Fredi never play him again, then baseball in Atlanta was the most boring offense i have seen avg 2 runs a game.

BIG DOG IN THE HOUSE

bravesfaninNashville

October 5th, 2011
2:23 am

Jason if you’re reading this blog I hope you are taking to heart the people on here who see how talented you really are. I also hope that you’ll return to what got you to the big leagues so young. Plate discipline and pitch recognition. You used to be so patient and let the game come to you. You didn’t jump at pitches out of the zone. It seemed you were on course to be a left handed Albert Pujols and I personally believe that’s how high your ceiling is. I for one hope that you will just enjoy the game and let your natural ability take over and that includes your intellect for the game of baseball. Best of luck to you… and a healthy offseason…

20 out

October 5th, 2011
2:40 am

I think this is just Wren’s way of lighting a fire under J-Hey. But, the most disconcerting part of this is that shoulder problem, or non-problem according to Wren. What’s the deal with that?

Hugo

October 5th, 2011
3:32 am

Am I missing something or did most of the Braves struggle at the plate. Why are others getting a pass but the concentration on Heyward. Every other day Chipper is hurt and he has the audacity to complain when someone else is hurt. Heyward is a young kid and will have growing pains but when it comes to certain players the learning curve is extremely short.
With the addition of Broun maybe the Braves have reached their African American quota.

bring back blauser

October 5th, 2011
3:58 am

you need to give credit where credit is deserved……..heyward was well scouted and they saw his flaws and milked it…..heyward never adjusted….adjust and things will be fine, but till then they will pitch to his weakness

59bulldawg

October 5th, 2011
4:49 am

Wow! There seems to be an underlying tone to comments by the Braves that attitude and a willingness to go “all out” may be a problem with Heyward. Hope that’s not the case!

Bill M.

October 5th, 2011
6:13 am

Constanza is not the answer, he’s a career minor leaguer. I to think Greg Walker would be a good batting coach. There will be alot of new faces come spring training. They should not even think about trading JH. Give him time.

BravesFan

October 5th, 2011
6:25 am

Giving up on a dude after one bad injury plague season is ludicrous. He obivously has the tools to be successful. Just look at his rookie year. If you gave up on everyone that had one bad year there would be really no one left in the MLB. A couple of bad years is a different story. As mentioned before, the kid’s only 22 yrs. old. Look at all you guys that gave up on Francour. Look what he did this past year. Give him the beneift of doubt and one more year to adjust and get healthy. Then we’ll talk.

Dub366

October 5th, 2011
7:37 am

THE GREAT CHIPPER IS THE CANCER OF THIS TEAM. UNTIL HE LEAVES THE BRAVES WILL BE JUST WHAT THEY ARE LOSER.

Do not give up on Heyward--be forewarned

October 5th, 2011
7:46 am

sophmore slump—mark my words—HE WILL BUST OUT A BIG 3RD SEASON—do not trade him

Arkie

October 5th, 2011
8:10 am

Jason, we all want you to succeed. You remind me of Granderson – Yankees. Their hitting coach help him redo his swing to a shorter more compact one. It will take some time but you can make adjustments. You are young, still learning and can make necessary hitting changes. Do it the right way with a coach that you believe in. It is your career. We want it to be a GREAT one. You are not the next Chipper, Frenchy 11, etc. Be Jason and you will do well.

Aaron

October 5th, 2011
8:12 am

Jason’s the reason I got back into baseball last year after my interest gradually deteriorated to the point that I’d check to see if the Braves won or lost and that was it. Watching the interviews and stuff with him, seemed like a good Christian young man with a level head that you couldn’t help but like. So I listened to Opening Day, have Jim Powell’s call of his home run burned into my memory. Ended up that I’m back to being the same big Braves fan and lover of baseball I was in the mid-late ’90s when I was a kid. Owe it all to the J-Hey Kid.

I know patience is a forgotten virtue, it seems, but I wish folks had more patience. Yes, if Jason had produced last year, there is a pretty good chance we would be following our team’s battle with the Brewers right about now. But for a second-year player, who’s just 22, I wish folks would give him at least till the All-Star break next season before they write him off.

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