The Braves do the right thing for Schafer (and themselves)

The Braves had no choice. Jordan Schafer was at sea. It made no difference if the team around him was steaming or sinking. A prized young property was in danger of washing out at age 22.

There’s a reason baseball teams try not to rush kids. They don’t want them to fail. Schafer was hitting .204 with 63 strikeouts against two home runs. That’s not someone who’s in a slump. That’s the sign of a young man who has lost his vocational way.

After two months it was clear the Braves could do nothing to help Schafer at the big-league level. Chipper Jones had been designated as his mentor, and even the counsel of one of the game’s finest hitters was having no effect. I asked Frank Wren last week how much longer the Braves could go with Schafer — Wren politely declined to answer — and when finally they demoted him they acted not a day too soon.

Baseball isn’t as much about speed and strength as technique and self-assurance. Schafer’s technique had deserted him, and how confident can you be when you’re hitting .204? And nobody can ever be sure that egregious failure at a tender age will be surmounted.

There was once a young center fielder who arrived in the majors on a wave of boundless hype. He’d been hitting .477 in the minors, but he got to the big leagues and went 1-for-26. (The hit was a homer in his 23rd at-bat.) Distraught, he begged his manager to send him down, saying the pitching was just too good for him.

Should the Braves bring Jordan Schafer back up this season?

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The manager, name of Durocher, told him he was going nowhere, and the kid wound up being named the 1951 National League rookie of the year. But the point isn’t that the guy turned out OK; the point is that even Willie Mays, one of the five greatest players in the history of the sport, had cause to doubt.

Jordan Schafer is where he needs to be: In Class AAA with Gwinnett, away from the bigger ballparks and the brighter lights and the harsher critics. He has a chance to find himself down there. There was nothing else to be found in the majors this summer, maybe not this year.

He just wasn’t ready. Now he can go get ready.

116 comments Add your comment

TommyP

June 3rd, 2009
6:48 am

Been preaching this for quite awhile now. Save Schafer and send him down. Don’t ruin the career of one of your best prospects before it begins.

Michael Smith

June 3rd, 2009
7:00 am

I agree that Schafer needs to be replaced — that many strikeouts puts a huge whole in the lineup. But the best and most promising outfielder the Braves have in their entire minor league system is Gregor Blanco? That doesn’t say much for our minor league system.

Bill

June 3rd, 2009
7:09 am

I’ll keep saying this.It comes down to ownership.Liberty Media pays only lip service to winning.They care about profit only.I have no problem with that in the business world.However I want my sports ownership to care.

The Braves haven’t had that since Ted Turner,before Jane Fonda ruined him.Until the Braves get better at the very top we’ll be looking at 77-83 wins per year.

Hawkdawg

June 3rd, 2009
7:22 am

He sucks. .204 says it all.

Lee Eggert

June 3rd, 2009
7:57 am

Jordan is a winner and so are the Braves. Jordan will land on his feet and make his comeback in due time…and the Braves will be back in the playoffs. They did the kid good and the kid is good. If you want to see how its done, just watch Schafer. He’s go the right stuff ’cause he was raised right. He’ll fight back and be the better for it. Be gald he’s with the Braves instead of the Yanks, Red Sox. Please, leave Turner and Fonda out of the mix; Schafer is in a different class. He hasn’t been handed anything…he’s earned it all.

Patrick

June 3rd, 2009
8:11 am

Hey..David Justice even got sent down..look at his career..this may be the start of a good thing

The Anti-Vick

June 3rd, 2009
8:13 am

At least Jordan Schafer isn’t running an illegal interstate gambling operation while brutalizing defenseless animals , knowingly spreading STDs to unsuspecting women (or men) and/or fertilizing numerous illegitimate kidz who will never know him as a father.

Good Luck, Jordan!

McCann Fan

June 3rd, 2009
8:17 am

What a great game last night! I normally try avoid the negativity, but I can’t help but think that we would not have pulled that one off had Schafer and his strikeouts been in the game.

He is going to end up a fine player, just not right now. How many all-star players are there out there that don’t get their break until their mid to late 20’s? Tons. They learn and grow in the minors and come up when they are ready — not when they have potential to be ready.

Here’s looking at him starting center field next year or in 2011. Good luck kid!

[...] Mark Bradley | ajc.com – [...]

Mark Bradley

June 3rd, 2009
8:24 am

I’d say Jason Heyward is a tad more promising than Gregor Blanco. But the Braves really don’t want to rush him.

Bruce

June 3rd, 2009
8:31 am

This kid is a ball player. He will come around. There’s nothing wrong with keeping him in the oven another year until he is fully cooked.

I support the Braves decision to do what they did; it was the right thing to do.

Jabo

June 3rd, 2009
8:35 am

How about this .. HawkDawg .. you suck. Get a life.

shawn

June 3rd, 2009
8:38 am

I think the Braves did the right thing. It was painful to watch what Jordan has been going thru. Right now I would have been happy with A. Jones in CF but we couldnt sign him. Or Griffey. Or Dunn. Our outfield needs some help. Good to see Anderson finally helping with some clutch hits. J. Pierre of the Dodgers would be a great addition. Maybe we can trade the pitcher from Japan (he is not good).

Chris

June 3rd, 2009
8:51 am

Wow, the article didn’t even mention the sport Vick plays (played?), let alone his name, and someone still feels the need to bring him up. For Pete’s (and Skip’s) sake, let it go.

Sending Schafer down was absolutely the right thing to do. He was obviously in over his head at the plate and needs another year or so to get things right. I have full faith that he will come around and be a tremendous talent in center for the Braves when his time is right. His defense has been superb, at least from what I’ve seen, so if he can get his act together at the plate, he’ll be fine.

Mac

June 3rd, 2009
8:55 am

Hindsight is 20-20, but it’s tough to see in the dark. Wrenn must’ve had his head in his … when he shipped Josh Anderson off too soon.

gb

June 3rd, 2009
8:57 am

Let’s not forget we traded a solid major league centerfielder with speed before the season knowing only Blanco was down on the farm if Jordan failed. This was the biggest mistake Wren has made yet!

RC Cola and a Moon Pie

June 3rd, 2009
9:00 am

i posted that this move needed to be done here a month ago. not that i don’t believe JS has what it takes, he just definitely needs more time for his offensive development. I do love seeing him glide to the ball in CF – but I think the Braves can take the defensive gamble to get just a bit more pop in the lineup.

Outhouse

June 3rd, 2009
9:02 am

He’s terrible!!! Wait! One more hit in ten at bats and he’s in the running for rookie on the year and the fans are going crazy. The Braves have done the right thing, if he’s not ready let him develop and get ready.

Justafan

June 3rd, 2009
9:10 am

Blanco is just that a Blank. 7 weeks of Spring Training does not make a major leaguer. Jordon was not ready and our great mgr. and Wren should have known that. How many years are we going to have the same problems?

jim feely

June 3rd, 2009
9:13 am

now the next move is to get rid of Pendelton. Name one hitter he has helped. maybe Leo should return as well.

You are right

June 3rd, 2009
9:23 am

Schafer is not Vick. He is not black. He did not grow up in a poor neighborhood surrounded by people who pretended to be his friends and continue to give him horrible advice. There’s two sides to every person. Vick isn’t all bad. I don’t understand people who used to love him and choose now to mercilessly throw him under the bus. It’s all been said before… he’s served his time. Vick is a person, he makes mistakes. Let it go.

David

June 3rd, 2009
9:23 am

Now with Hanson tearing it up, Glavine healthy and Medlin pitching well, they have a MAJOR decision to make. Which direction to go? You can keep down Hanson for a while longer and possibly send Medlin back, but you can’t do anything with Kawakami, you have to give him time. One thing they can’t do is wait and lose too many games and not be able to catch back up.

They could trade Jo Jo (somebody will want a left handed arm, possibly out of the pen) and Kelly Johnson or Matt Diaz or even Javier for a big stick.

They could have Medlin, Jair and Hanson as the future and then Lowe and Hudson for next year. Put that with a big stick, hopefully one of the kids (Freddie or Heyward comes up next year) and Schafer becomes a better hitter and leadoff man….that is a formidable team.

BT

June 3rd, 2009
9:25 am

Man Mark, great job. How many blogs do you crank out each week.

The Braves did Schafer a disservice by bringing him up without any AAA experience and only a short success in AA. Lot of great players got sent down their first year Mantle etc. Schafer will come back a much better player.

Justafan

June 3rd, 2009
9:27 am

jim feely, add Pat Corrales to that list and Ned Yost as mgr.

Bamafan

June 3rd, 2009
9:28 am

I have been watching the Braves AAA team on CSS and they don’t have many players who could help the Atlanta Braves right know. Pitching is the only thing that the G-Braves have and Jordan really needs help with his swing. The Braves needs to trade for a center fielder and hope Blanco can hit above 204!!

David

June 3rd, 2009
9:28 am

I thought I was the only one to figure out the slide of the Braves.
Bill, there is someone in Atlanta that knows more than me. Me and you might be the only 2 guys that know why the Braves have crashed for the last 4 years. Nice job of stating it in a short paragraph. Now let’s let Bobby Cox, Frank Wren, and John tell us this is not true.

PMC

June 3rd, 2009
9:33 am

It is a good thing, he will find his stroke back in Triple A without being so much in the limelight. It’s what he needs a break… even if he’s upset about being sent down. He’s a better hitter than he’s shown. Major League pitching is tough. Unfortunately they chose not to do this with Francouer last year when he suffered similarly.

Deadelvis

June 3rd, 2009
9:34 am

Why does Chipper have to be the player coach? Why do we keep Terry Pendleton???
Even when Frenchie was hitting this year it was at the start of the season after sending the summer with the Texas Rangers hitting coach. That right there says so much no one is saying. I always hear Chipper’s helping B-Mac – Chipper’s mentoring so and so. What the hell does Terry do or is he that bad that they don’t want him helping anyone. Sometimes the change needs to happen at the top and it is time for Terry to go – Team has no offense – get rid of the pitching coach- seems simple. If it is just that he is the future coach of the Braves let him coach in the minors until Bobby’s done but get him out of the dugout.

Justice for all

June 3rd, 2009
9:38 am

Yes Schafer needs AAA Gwinnett but Blanco is not the answer. Go out and find a good centerfielder who can hit. We need that one big bat and we need a centerfielder. Get one and lets move on. Schafer can come up again in a coupld of years when hes really ready. Right now we need that one player and its not Blanco.

All I'm Saying Is...

June 3rd, 2009
9:39 am

Let’s see, Schafer’s lack of success is the fault of Frank Wren? No, wait its Bobby Cox? No, it has to be Terry Pendleton? No, no, silly, it’s Chipper Jones’ fault…How about this? The kid was given a chance and he wasn’t ready. Not the first rook to struggle and won’t be the last.

The two things Wren did wrong was hoping Francoeur would bounce back and not signing another proven outfielder (like Garrett Anderson) to get us through this year until the kids are ready.

Say what you want but I’ve yet to hear of a hitting coach getting credit for anything — even the great Rod Carew was not immune to criticsm as a hitting coach with the then California Angels. You can get rid of Pendleton and find somebody else but won’t make a bit of difference if a player doesn’t translate the batting cage to the batters box (see Brad Komminsk) or is not a student of the game to begin with (see Jeff Francoeur).

o-me

June 3rd, 2009
9:43 am

all I’m saying is…..open your eyes and clean your ears.

MiltonDawg

June 3rd, 2009
9:46 am

It was way overdue, glad to see Wren give the guy a shot, but now is not the time for Schafer. Hope he can find his swing in Gwinnett. On a side note, maybe we should change his # to 50. 50 games susp last year, 50 game tryout in the bigs before being sent down.

JD

June 3rd, 2009
9:46 am

Schafer will get things figured out and be back in Atlanta before the end of the season. Bigger concern, is our hitting coach. As a player thought the world of TP, but as a coach not so much. We have players working in the off season with Rudy Jaramillo and anyone else that can help them, just not their own coach. That speaks volumes!!!

David

June 3rd, 2009
9:47 am

Josh Anderson is NOT the answer and we didn’t ship him off too soon. He is a decent, not great hitter and we needed to trade him for Vaz. He is not a future big time player like Schafer. Schafer hasn’t been good and was brought up too soon but he is the future.

longtimefan

June 3rd, 2009
9:49 am

At least he went down swinging!!!! Hey, didn’t the Braves trade away Mark Texiria not long ago??

Bob Horner

June 3rd, 2009
9:50 am

Don’t forget, they brought him up from AA, without really doing any time in AAA — Give the kid a little time. And no Hawkdawg Doofus, he doesn’t suck. He has a killer swing, and once he starts making contact you’ll be singing his praise like everyone else… moron.

Deadelvis

June 3rd, 2009
9:53 am

Tex was traded because he was not going to sign with the Braves at year end and it better to get something for him rather then nothing before he left.

Baba O'Riley

June 3rd, 2009
9:58 am

Anderson got traded for Vaz? Anderson is servicable and would have been a better option that JS or GB.

Supes

June 3rd, 2009
9:59 am

Mark,

Schafer should have started the season at AAA to begin with. That was the problem all along. Josh Anderson should have been the starting CF (just how much stock can you put into Spring Training?)

Did you notice Blanco’s best attempt to simulate Jordan being there last night? Didn’t get a hit and K’d a couple of times to boot. You basically swapped one struggling player for another.

Unless Anderson and Jeff F. start to hit in the clutch and with power (like last night), this current Braves team is doomed to fail.

Meanwhile…Adam Dunn and his 16HR await in D.C.

Kentavo

June 3rd, 2009
10:01 am

Jason Heyward got sent down to Danville – what’s the story there, Mark?

MLH

June 3rd, 2009
10:05 am

jim feely –

I can name two. Escobar and McCann

bali

June 3rd, 2009
10:06 am

thanks for a good article of the schafer situation. I hope he makes it back.I wish the Braves had not rushed him to the majors. It seems that every year there is a player who cant miss making it to the big show misses. Hate it.

61 year Braves Fan

June 3rd, 2009
10:06 am

SHOULD HAVE SENT SHAFER TO DOUBLE A MISSISSIPPI. A FULL SEASON THERE WOULD
BE BETTER THAN AT GWINNETT.

CoastalDawg

June 3rd, 2009
10:12 am

Francoeur isn’t a student of the game? Where in the world did you get THAT? He’s probably more of a student than anyone else on the team because he realizes his struggle and problems at the plate. On his “day off” (translated into let’s try someone else today) he spent the morning in the BATTING CAGE. He HAS the potential but for some reason seems to get desperate when he goes a few at bats and doesn’t get a hit; he has to establish within his own mind and spirit that he CAN do it, he HAS done it, and “it” hasn’t gone away. Aside from that though, Texiera was a great hope for the Braves but guess what, Wren traded him for a first baseman that has moments but has been inconsistent the whole times he’s been in Atlanta. Although Kelly Johnson has hit moments at the plate how many games has he probably cost the Braves with his lack of attention and miscues as a second baseman? Same with Escobar, he plays his position way too casually often and doesn’t make plays that a little leaguer might make. I don’t think Frank Wren has proven himself at all in his short tenure with the Braves, missing out on some big name players that could have helped the team and letting others get away while he was dallying with the big names. Even his send down of Francoeur last season was ill timed and not handled well –also have to fault Francoeur with the way he reacted. Bottom line is this: the Braves have the players but do they have the coaches and managers that can “think” through the game with the best players in the field each game. By the way, who KNOWS if Texiera would have signed with the Braves again? My feeling is that he would have and supposedly money isn’t a problem with the new owners – that’s another deal in which Wren jumped the gun and sold him off too cheaply. Back to the question at hand: Schafer is a good player that should do well @ Gwinnett and find his way back down the road to Atlanta soon.

steve

June 3rd, 2009
10:15 am

Blanco is a good player who has did not have a good spring or start of the AAA season. But his numbers have climbed. Blanco may never be an all-star, but he is a good player. He is good in the field, has an excellent eye at the plate, and usually puts the ball in play. On top of all of that, he has something that the Braves severely lack – speed. Let’s give him a chance.

Rontavious Jefferson Bradleys

June 3rd, 2009
10:18 am

What about Frechy? One good game in 30 dos not make him any better than Schafrer. I say hire Julio Franco to teach hitting. Let him spend some time with Frechy and with Schafer and get them ready for the playoffs. Of course Bobby will probably have Lockhart back for the playoffs. Need to get him a few starts at the beginning of the series.

MightyQuinn

June 3rd, 2009
10:20 am

Been out of the loop for about 10 days while on the road with a dead computer. I was wondering if the Braves might have been showcasing Medlin for trade possibilities. Any news/rumors regarding that that I missed while computer-less?

o-me

June 3rd, 2009
10:21 am

Steve..he had a chance last year and failed.

Ryno

June 3rd, 2009
10:26 am

Mr. Bradley – It would be interesting to hear if the Schafer situation impacts how Bobby and Frank Wren deal with younger players that have phenominal stats at Spring Traning.

I think there is something to be said for players earning a spot on the team but it simply hasn’t translated yet.

GT81

June 3rd, 2009
10:27 am

Schafer has one swing speed for all counts and all situations–100% swing as hard as he can. Yet, he isn’t even a power hitter–what’s wrong with this picture? I don’t see how going to AAA is going to change that. The major league pitchers have got his number, as they have Frenchy’s, and he’s human out-making machine. RISP, 2 outs, late and tight–swing as hard as you can and miss the ball by a foot. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see this guy as a major league hitter.