Update: Schultz draws line in the sand on Heyward hype

Jeff Schultz delivered on his promise for a fresh Jason Heyward column. Seemingly contrite for his own contribution to the hyperbole machine, he cautions readers to temper their expectations for J-Hey.

“The expectations in the past few weeks have grown like some mutant life form. First we wondered if he could make the team in spring training. Then we wondered how many cars he would destroy in batting practice. Now there’s a thought he has first ballot Hall of Famer stamped on his forehead. And if not, what’s wrong with those crazy voters?

….All of this begs the question: Is there a danger in expecting too much too soon?”

Astoundingly, Schultz doesn’t just contradict himself, he even hyperlinks us to the very column, to serve as an example of expectations gone wild.  Are we expecting too much too soon? I don’t know. But after three separate AJC articles about the sound his bat makes during during batting practice in 72 hours, I’m leaning toward yes. If Schultz wants to find out who’s building Heyward up to an unreachable level, he needn’t look far.  The answer is just one hyperlink away.

There’s little worry that Heyward won’t be able to handle the spotlight. His demeanor and patience at the plate are far beyond most of his peers, he’s an Albert Pujols/Manny Ramirez level genius at the plate.  Don’t believe me? Compare Pujols’ minor league stats to Heyward’s, they’re remarkably similar. Heyward’s combined OPS for A, AA and AAA last season was .963, Albert’s OPS was .920 over three levels at age 20. The strikeout-to-walk ratios are nearly identical (47 SOs,46 walks for Pujols, 51 of each for Heyward) and the power and averages are similar as well. I’m not worried about Heyward failing to live up to the lofty image we’ve constructed for him, it’s very clear we’re dealing with a special talent. While it’s obvious why so many are enamored with the kid, his career will be more enjoyable if the Atlanta media stops being so annoyingly repetitive in singing his praises.

Other Braves notes-

  • Buster Olney notes the Braves players and coaches have not shied away from singing Heyward’s praises. Compared to the way most veteran players deflect attention from high profile rookies, it’s a valid point.
  • DOB says Jair Jurrjens may be close to returning. Jurrjens has been throwing pain-free for a few days and will look to throw his first bullpen session Monday.
  • Tim Hudson was inducted into the inaugural Wall of Fame at Auburn. Frank Thomas and Bo Jackson were also honored in the class.
  • Meant to discuss this earlier, but with all the Heyward hype it’s easy to forget about the other aspects of the team. With Jesse Chavez possibly emerging and Scott Proctor on track to be ready by April, the Braves patchwork bullpen just might come together. Still not sure how reliable a back end consisting of a 40 (Takashi Saito) and 38 year old (Billy Wagner) will be, but there is at least some promising depth behind them. With Moylan, Medlan, O’Flaherty, Chavez and hopefully Proctor, Cox will at least have more options than he did last season.
  • Chipper Jones spoke honestly about retirement. My take is that like Bobby Cox, I can’t picture Braves baseball without him. Until he’s not wearing a tomahawk on his chest for opening day 2011, there’s no way I believe Chip’s remotely close to hanging it up.
  • The Grapefruit league is less than a week away. I wouldn’t know it by looking outside, but it’s good to know that it’s almost spring somewhere, and Braves baseball will be here soon enough.

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