Jason Heyward Newsbeat
Monday, August 22, 2016
If I were Joe Maddon, I would have made Jason Heyward take advantage of it while the Cubs were there. A day hike among a riot of wildflowers. A whitewater rafting trip. Some time atop a mountain that no hitting guru could scale. Maybe a tour of the state’s burgeoning herbal industry.
Instead, the manager kept his struggling hitter in the dugout for the three-game series against the Rockies in Denver. Actually, describing Heyward as “struggling’’ might imply that he has known something besides struggle this season, that there have been hills to go with the valleys. But his season started out at rock bottom and has hugged the ground ever since. The guy with the eight-year, $184 million contract is hitting .225, which works out to about $10 million each time he has had success at the plate. Or something like that.
It’s why Maddon finally acknowledged the obvious and gave Heyward some rest starting Thursday against Milwaukee, “rest” being a euphemism for a benching. But I wonder why Maddon didn’t take it a step further in typical out-of-the-box fashion. Not a trip to the bench but a vacation in the mountains.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon were all supposed to be All-Star caliber outfielders; instead, they’ve all lost their power and are hitting like backup catchers. Between them, they’ve been worth less than +1 WAR this year, but they’ll be paid a combined $55 million this season anyway, and that’s even with the Royals backloading Gordon’s deal. Heyward and Upton are young enough that it’s still reasonable to think they can bounce back from this, but given the disastrous 2016 seasons now on their resume, it’s pretty clear that neither player would get anything close to the contracts they signed last winter if they were forced back onto the free agent market at this point.
And while I was a big fan of the Gordon contract for the Royals, I can’t imagine they’re all that happy to have a 32 year old who looks like a league average hitter under contract for $60 million over the next three years; even with high-level outfield defense, the bat needed to hold up better than this to make it a good deal for the Royals, and one year in, it looks like he might not be an impact hitter anymore.
And those outfielders might actually be doing better than the other expensive starting pitchers.
Zack Greinke’s success was largely built on a .229 BABIP last year, and to the surprise of no one outside of Arizona, that hasn’t carried over. And with his strikeout rate dropping back down to league average, a lack of weak contact is a problem for a guy being paid at ace-levels. Greinke is still a good pitcher, and he might still give the Diamondbacks some good years, but like most of what happened in Arizona this year, the expectations and the realities were simply not the same.
for his generous support.
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