The Braves' Matt Diaz is no fool; praises Jason Heyward's ascension

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Mat Diaz.jpgIf there’s anyone who has a right to be bummed by Jason Heyward winning the Braves’ starting right field job it’s Matt Diaz who is basically losing his starting job to Heyward. But part of what makes Diaz a useful player is that he’s pretty smart, and his brains were on full display today when he was asked about Heyward:

“I’m sure the fans are pleased, but I know this
locker room’s very, very pleased. We’re all pumped. We know he can help
us. He’s going to make pitchers pitch differently . . .I have no idea how it’s going to work. I just know we have
four really good outfielders, and Bobby always finds a
way to find people playing time. I’m sure if he feels I have the hot
hand, I’ll get to play. I don’t know what position, I don’t know when.
I’m sure the other guys are the same way.”

I’m sure Diaz is aware that Heyward, for all of his promise, is being overhyped to some degree. I’m also sure that if you asked him to be totally honest he’d say that in 2010 he could probably outhit Heyward, certainly against lefties, and very likely overall (indeed; if Heyward puts up a 120-130 OPS+ like Diaz is capable of he’d exceed his already high expectations).

But Diaz is no fool. He knows who the future is in Atlanta, and it certainly isn’t a 32 year-old platoon guy.  Maybe it’s not appropriate to praise Diaz for acknowledging what seems manifest, but worse players than him have reacted far more poorly upon losing their jobs in the past, and it’s nice to see that any potential headaches in this situation are being avoided.

But wouldn’t it be great to see Melky Cabrera lose his head over all of this?

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.