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not-understanding-why-heyward-should-start | January | 2010 Articles

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Not understanding why Heyward should start

Written by Joe Lucia on .

I'm the one not understanding, just to clarify things. If you're a Braves fan, you should know who Jason Heyward is. Top prospect in all of baseball, 20 year old phenom kicking ass and taking names through the minors, and so on and so forth. Many people are clamoring that he should start in Atlanta in 2010. I'm not so sure thats the best idea in the world. Last season, Heyward didn't even play in 100 games. He got 13 plate appearances at Gwinnett. Rushing him to the majors now could lead to a catastrophic meltdown. Heyward is obviously an extremely talented and special player, and you don't want to rush him to the majors and possibly fracture his confidence if he doesn't succeed. If you do, and he struggles right off the bat like Jordan Schafer did last season (spare me the wrist drama, Schafer was rushed and wasn't ready, and anyone who denies it doesn't know what the hell they're talking about), you run the risk of possibly damaging his future. Many fans are optimistic about Heyward starting in 2010 and putting up a .850 OPS while unanimously winning the rookie of the year award. Heyward has proven nothing in his career thusfar except for the fact that he oozes potential. He hasn't faced a major league caliber pitcher his entire career. If you give him time in Gwinnett, you will let him at least get his feet wet against 4A players like John Halama, who have at least pitched in the majors before and will give him a taste of what to expect on a daily basis while in Atlanta. You also need to look at things from an economic point of view. You can have Heyward now for the league minimum, but in 2 years, you'll be paying him millions of dollars through arbitration for 4 years (because he'd be a super 2 if he started the year in Atlanta). Or...you can have a stopgap for a year like a Johnny Damon or Xavier Nady and pay a little more now to pay a lot less later. The 3 to 5 million or so a player like that would command would be much more efficient than having to pay Heyward an extra year of somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 to 10 million that he'd earn in his fourth year of arbitration. This isn't like the Garret Anderson situation last year, where everyone and their mother knew he didn't have antyhing left in the tank and couldn't produce. Nady and Damon still have plenty to offer teams, and would be extremely valuable additions to a club that still needs some talent in the outfield. If you start the season with Heyward and he struggles...what in the name of god is the team supposed to do? You don't want to send him down and destroy his confidence. Benching him would only make things worse. Meanwhile, if you sign a veteran, you can always shift them to the bench later in the year if Heyward is thriving in AAA and the veteran is middling along with his mid-.700 OPS. It's not rocket science. I know everyone is excited for the Jason Heyward era...but lets just calm down for a little bit and think rationally folks.

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