The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years last season, but they did it without any major contributions at the plate from outfielder Jason Heyward. After signing an eight-year, $184MM deal with the Cubs last winter, the normally above-average hitter posted the worst offensive season of his career with a .230/.306/.325 line and seven home runs in 592 plate appearances. As a result, the 27-year-old has been working to restore his swing with Cubs hitting coach John Mallee and assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske this offseason, as Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com details. “It’s easier said than done trying to do it in season,” said Heyward. “The offseason allows you to slow things down and focus on all the little things.” Ideally, Heyward would like to return to the form he displayed in 2012 during a 27-homer campaign with the Braves. “He’s trying to mirror the swing he had then,” Mallee said. “Right now the path is not the same it was then. It’s not making a change. It’s getting him back to who he was.”
More from around the majors:
- While Tigers general manager Al Avila is not under orders to decrease payroll, one major league executive told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the franchise is nonetheless aiming to do that. “The Tigers are a willing trade partner because they’re trying to get rid of payroll,” the executive commented. It’s possible Detroit’s alleged motivation to cut spending will lead to a trade involving second baseman Ian Kinsler, whom the Dodgers could target. “Kinsler is still a top player and he only has two years remaining on his deal,” observed the exec. The 34-year-old is due $11MM next season and, barring a $5MM buyout, another $10MM by way of a club option in 2018.
- The 2016 season ended prematurely for Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker, who exited a Sept. 4 start after taking a line drive to the head and didn’t pitch again. The damage from that liner, which came off Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager’s bat at 105 mph, forced Shoemaker to undergo surgery to repair a small skull fracture and stop the bleeding on his brain. Fortunately, Shoemaker hasn’t felt any ill effects this offseason, he told Jason Beck of MLB.com. “The nice thing is mentally, I think I’m in a good state where I don’t think about it,” Shoemaker said. “It’s like it’s just something that happened. I’m thankful the recovery has been great, able to be back and ready to go.” To help guard against another potentially disastrous injury in the future, Shoemaker is considering wearing protective headgear in 2017. “I know a lot of stuff is being developed. For me, everybody cares about how they look a little bit, but I don’t really care how the look is as much as the feel and the comfort,” he stated. “Like, when I’m pitching, I don’t want to think about it. So if that can be achieved with something, if something works, I’m willing to try it.”
- Former major league hurlers Ryan Dempster and Eric Gagne are planning on pitching for their native Canada in this year’s World Baseball Classic, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (Twitter links). “I was putting up some really good numbers in beer-league softball,” quipped the 39-year-old Dempster, who pitched to a 4.35 ERA in 579 appearances and 351 starts from 1998-2013. Gagne, 41, has been off the radar for much longer, as his last majors action came in 2008 with the Brewers. Of course, the ex-closer is best known for his work as a member of the Dodgers, with whom he converted a record 84 straight saves from 2002-04 and won the National League Cy Young in 2003.
Wonder if the WBC might be a good chance for some non-major leaguers to showcase. Is manny playing for the DR?
I hope Larry Walker suits up for Canada too
Mariano Rivera for Panama!
Or Matt Stairs?
Or Joey Votto?
Or Rusty Staub ?
Or Fergie Jenkins
Or Rheal Cormier
Or John Kruk for Philly , that country is never properly represented.
Manny will not represent DR!!
Not a bad idea.
It’s not unusual for a hitter that has been hit in the face by a pitch to have a set back or two. Heyward looked like he was having a tough time staying on pitches as if there was a slight bit of apprehension in his hitting approach. Most of the great ML hitters have their bodies “stacked” during the swing to maximize balance and strength, with their head tilted downward towards the point of contact. Heyward’s lower half fought against his upper half all year long, he was a mess. Heyward definitely has the skill set of a perennial All Star. He just needs to strengthen his mindset to what is once was prior to his injury.
Heyward’s problem was not mental, it was mechanical. His hands were too high in his batting stance, which severely slowed his bat speed and threw off his timing.
and here is an example of why,IMO, hitting coach is the hardest coaching job,which btw also extremely underpaid.2 guys right here,albeit both unqualified,with 2 different takes on a hitter,both of which requiring different methods to fix.in a case like heyward’s,$184M man in the 2nd year of an 8 year contract, it could really mean this coach’s job on the line to fix this one player’s batting line
The cubs are one of the best offensive teams in baseball, I don’t think they’re gonna fire Mallee because heyward can’t hit
Not to mention most players are too stubborn to listen.
He can hit just fine. He had a bad year. Not a big deal. People act like that contract is the worst thing ever. He has two opt outs. So if he does great the best two years he can cash out again at age 29. If they win another world series and he does great. I doubt he opts out. I’ve seen people compare his contract to soriano and that deal was good for maybe 2 years. He refused to be traded half way through because he knew he couldn’t be lazy. Same thing with Derek lee and aramis Ramirez. They wanted to be lazy so they refused to be traded.
Anyway the point is Jason Heyward will be just fine. 2017 comeback player of the year.
That lazy derek lee who put up 5.2 fwar in his last full season with the cubs, what a bum!
Derek Lee had one good year for the cubs. That was like 2005. After someone purposely broke his wrist he was never the same. If I remember correctly it was A-Rod that swatted at Lee’s glove and broke his wrist.
They overpaid for him. I am gonna predict .255 12hr 65rbi 15stls which is not worth even 15mil a year. I hope I am wrong and it is more like .280 20hr 85rbi 23stls but I doubt it..
It could not have been A-Fraud cause he is such a great guy and a class act.
Why would you doubt it? You’re gonna judge him off one bad year? So if Giancarlo won mvp triple crown one year then opted out and went to a winning team for 10/280 then hit .220 with 7 hrs and 50 rbi
Would you doubt he would comeback to form the next year or would he be overpaid?
I’m really hoping he’s smart enough to opt out after his 6th year. I believe isn’t for 2 more years.
I think Heyward’s problem were mental. After everyone telling him what he is doing wrong with his swing, he must have gone mentally insane.
I blame The Braves for that………
As opposed to say, “physically insane”?
Wrong before hia facial fracture he was on almost on top of the plate. He would extend his arms earlier and look to be ahead of every pitch thrown to him. He came back slowly moving further away from the plate amd starging his swing later and later. His bat speed still lets him make contact, usually not with the meat of the bat. Watch his first homerun. When he geta back to that he will be a mvp. Id take that contract on in a heartbeat. Sucking will start to hurt worse than any pitch to the head could. How about markakis and gohara for heyward. We will even take that headcase lastella back haha
Well, whatever his problem was, I’m sure Eric Hinske will fix it.
No pressure now good luck Heyward .you must do better than Fowler in 2017
Heyward has never been a great hitter. Never really understood giving a guy like that a $184 million deal.
Because prior to last year he was good at baseball, which requires a player to do more than just hit.
Welcome back Shoe. Almost got killed. Hopefully it doesn’t spook him, regardless of what he says.
And Gange’s last name still sounds like a disease or some kind of ailment.
Well it’s Gagne for one…
I hope Heyward bounces back so cardinal fans have nothing left to chirp about
Cubs are forming a dynasty. That championship edge will not be there for long
Ha, the Cardinals are winning that 11-3. Even if the Cubs manage to grab 2 more titles during this run, which is far from a given, they’re still trailing 11-5. I don’t love the idea of just comparing championships, but that “championship edge” will likely be there forever
if you’re concerned with what cardinal fans think, maybe you should rethink your own priorities.
Maybe Heyward was over analysing his swing. For any sports person, muscle memory is what you work on. When the ball is coming at you with velocity and movement you don’t have time to think you rely on muscle memory. He might not have contributed with the bat much but he stayed positive and the defence was stellar.
If my memory serves me correctly, Heyward has been asked to “tweak his swing” almost every winter. Years ago, the Braves (for some strange reason) tried to turn a young prospect who was crushing the ball, hitting towering Home Runs (and breaking windshields in the parking lots), into a leadoff hitter who was stealing bases.
And that was ALL before he got hit in the face. The Braves must have convinced him that “who he was, wasn’t good”….and it may have wrecked his mental approach permanently. Nice Job Atlanta!
Atlanta had so many problems for those few years with Wren and Fredi Gonzalez, that they could keep a steady lineup. Heyward got moved there because he had the most consistent OBP and baserunning ability. Melvin Upton’s BA dropped so suddenly that he could not fill that role and so many other things went to sh–. But agree more with posters ahead, his jaw breaking pitch screwed up his “crowd the plate” mentality.
Couldn’t keep a steady lineup
Heyward was asked to lead off due to his speed and lack of other options to lead off. He lost his power but it was because he started trying to pull everything and standing so far off the plate he was almost out of the box. At times you would see him start hitting the ball the other way and just raking so they would pitch him inside and the second he would pull a pitch he went back to trying to pull everything and back into a slump. This kept rolling on in cycles until he was dealt.
His grip on the bat is also unorthodox. He hold the bat with his top hand open and grips and regrips with a pitch on the way. I have seen him get eaten up by hard pitches inside beacause he did not get a grip on the bat before the ball was on him. He is tremendously talented though and i look for good things from him as he is a gold glove caliber defender still and a good team mate by all accounts.
Breck—I totally agree on the grip. I got so frustrated last season watching him and every time you were able to see the grip his top hand, the thumb in particular, was up the shaft as if he were holding a golf club. An there were times, though not locked, his top hand was over his bottom hand, again like a golf club. I actually took out a golf club and tried to mimic the grip and swing it like a baseball bat. Seemed very odd and hard to do. I’m not saying this was the issue as I have little baseball knowledge (none) compared to Mallee or anyone else with him, but I totally agree that the re-grip or movement he had in the grip during the pitch has to be a contributor.
I also believe that in the game after Schwarber got hurt, Heyward made a diving catch in right field and bent back his glove hand. I’m not convinced that there was a minor thumb injury there that threw off the mechanics and sent him into a spiral that he couldn’t get out of.
All that said, in nine less games, he had three less hits than Addison Russell on the season. Sometimes perception (and a huge contract) make things seems a little different than they are. And, David Ross was the greatest .230 hitter in the history of baseball this past season.
russel slugged 417 heyward 325. .179 iso to .094. It’s not just number of hits it’s quality of hits.
You’re also comparing a short stop to a rf, which just doesn’t really make a ton of sense, different expectations from those positions
Although the Tigers want to trade, they don’t have many trade partners. Most teams are trying to lose cost and there’s too much competition for the players that the Tiger want to pedal .
Furthermore, I believe we are witnessing the next stage of the effects that excessive “run away” player salaries are causing to the business of MLB. Teams demand community funded stadiums then continue to “shake down” those communities before those stadiums are paid for. $10M for water is a huge investment, $10M for a mediocre player to play a sport only a fraction of that community cares to watch is not only acceptable, but is expected. The Media is losing so much money on those enormous contracts that they are now demanding that tax payers subsidize their losses.
“Most teams are trying to lose cost”. Nope. Average payrolls and salaries are going up.
“Community Funded Stadiums” are not correlated with player salaries. Detroit has a great stadium which is centrally located and actually does add to the community along with other venues.
Detroit will have all 4 sports downtown, each team playing within 3 blocks of each other and directly off of Woodward. Once the Red Wings and Pistons move later this year, there will be no place in America like it. At least 200 events per year with at least 10,000 people attending each event, all within a very small area..
Housing values are through the roof in that neighborhood. $100K Condos 8-10 years ago are now at $300K. Literally dozens of restaurants have opened in the area in the last 18 months. Population going up, tax revenue going up. The urban core is being restored.
And the Tigers did not try to get huge dollars out of the community to start this domino effect.
Its still the worst big city in America by a long shot.
How do you know.? Have you been there anytime recently.?
I grew up outside of Boston. I love Detroit. I love that is a real city, not just a tourist filled duck boat infested “McMall” with all the same stores I can get to in the suburbs, just in buildings downtown.
NO CITY in America will have what Detroit has with all four teams, plus the Fox Theater, The Filmore, the Opera House, and Masonic Temple and the Gem Theater all in the same neighborhood.
If you’re playing fantasy, buy buy buy on Heyward. Big bounceback year is coming, maybe .280/16 HRs/22 SBs.
He should bat 9th in front of Swanee he will score a lot no ego will make the difference is only offensive number that was good was a great rookie year
Really glad that Shoemaker is okay and hope he can pitch without fear next year. That’s the kind of thing that makes you timid on the mound, ever fearful that the next ball to come off the bat could gun straight towards you.
I am not planning on moving.
However, if someone wants to give me 25% more than my house is worth to move, I will consider it.
The Tigers could easily trade Kinsler and JD Martinez if they wanted, but no one wants to overpay to get them. That is OK. Move on.
No need to settle. They were one good weekend away from a playoff spot. They have 3 very young starters. Keep them and lets see what happens.
I would also add that between now an Opening Day, every team is one injury or poor performance away to looking at Sanchez or Pelfrey as a necessary addition to their rotation.
No they aren’t. Those two are bad and kind of expensive. Teams have spot starters in their pen, AAA pitchers, or trades for pitchers who aren’t as negative value as those guys.
Yes they are. The Tigers, of course, would be paying part/most of the salary to move them, so tagging them as expensive is likely inaccurate. If you look at just Sanchez’ totals from last year, I agree, they do not look pretty. However, he is not that old, and is not that far from being quite productive. He also had several starts that were reminiscent of what he is capable of. There is hope there for better things. If either he or Pelfrey allow a young talent to continue to develop at their own pace, instead of being rushed out of necessity, than it is quite the win. If Sanchez returns to form, even better. ( I do admit I didn’t like the Pelfrey signing when they did it.)
If you are responding to me, then perhaps you need to revisit the definition of “necessary” because none of what you said changes the fact that those two pitchers are not necessary for teams.
I love shoe, I think me and pretty much every angels fan is super grateful he didn’t get a serious head injury. He is still super young and has so much potential. I wish he wasn’t so underrated. I mean he was a former ROY and the only reason he’s been struggling is because he didn’t have any offense support.
ROY runner up
RyÅn W Krol
When Shoe was struggling it was actually because for some reason he couldn’t keep his splitter down for a time, and when that happens the pitcher in question can give up a lot of HR’s. Which is what happened with Shoe. If you look at his peripherals, he doesn’t walk hitters at all. He puts up Maddux-like walk rates (or Phil Hughes-like if you don’t want him in the same sentence as Greg). And when he keeps his splitter down, the hits and HR’s go down and he becomes ace-like. And that’s where he bounced back down the stretch in both 2015 and 2016. Shoe will be an important piece in the Angels’ rotation as long as he keeps that splitter down.